LIMITS OF POLITICAL OPINION January 22, 2007Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
I posted a comment on John Quiggin’s Monday Message Board:
A similar issue of political expression concerns the British passenger who was refused from boarding a Qantas plane because he was wearing a T-shirt declaring George Walker Bush was a terrorist.To me this seems no more than a factual statement, or at least a political one.
I suppose that every political statement will be offensive to someone. On that basis Qantas should not carry newspapers and magazines that have political content, on the basis that somebody may be offended by a headline. Would the T-shirt have been considered potentially offensive if it posed a question, rather than made a statement? What is offensive in this matter, is that a person is being stopped from expressing an political opinion in what in essence is a public space.
I think that Qantas would have been wiser to wait until the offence was caused, which probably would not happen, and then deal with the situation. As it is, it is the company that looks foolish, not the passenger.
There is no doubt a counter-argument. It is just that I cannot quite see what it might be. What are the limits to political expression? For example, public servants should not be political, but that does not mean that they should not allow the expression of political opinions from the public. I certainly think that racist comments are unacceptable and offensive in public sphere despite any weasel words about “political correctness”.
I am puzzled and open to suggestions. Past experience suggests contrary opinions will not be forthcoming.
This effort probably belongs in the same category as my rebuke of the spammers.