Freedom campaign at university ‘offends many’.
Freedom of speech and expression is now hot news in Poland. Yet another story on the subject. When word got out that the organization Foundation for Freedom was taking their T-shirt for Freedom (Tiszert dla Wolnosci) campaign to Lublin University, the Archbishop of the city called on the Rector of the university to ban the exhibition.
So he did.
Why? Well, some of the slogans on the t-shirts might upset vulnerable people, apparently. Slogans written on the black shirts include: I am gay; I am a lesbian; I masturbate (are you offended yet?); I am an Arab (scary!); I don’t go to church; I had an abortion (you can't say that!); I am having a period (eeek!!!); and, I never cried when the Pope died…
OK, you can come out from under the table now.
“The texts printed on the T-shirts could have offended the feelings and beliefs of many people," Wieslaw Kaminski, president of the student union at the University of Lublin, told Rzeczpospolita.
“To write ‘I’ve got Aids’ or ‘I’ve had an abortion’ on a T-shirt, you would have to be devoid of all human feelings,” added Lublin bishop Jozef Zycinski.
Still, a campaign that had, so far, not made much impression in the media – the originator of the idea, Antoni Adamowicz, has been trying to provoke the authorities with his T-shirts, to my knowledge, since at least last November - is now splashed all over the front page and being talked about in the news programmes.
The show, which would have included celebrities modeling the offending garb, was partly sponsored by the human rights NGO Helsinki Foundation, but they cancelled the stall they were going to have alongside the offending T-shirts after the campaign was banned from campus.
But it’s another indication that the ‘don’t be offensive’ mentality is spreading in Poland, as it is in the rest of Europe.
It's also good to see that academic freedom and independence is alive and well and studying in Poland.
But it’s also doing no end of good for human rights campaigners here and keeps the issue very much in the news.
A poll by PBS pollsters today found that 48% of Poles think that freedom of speech is under attack from the new PiS government. The feeling is that religious groups, outside of the Established Church, are having an unhealthy influence in the governing of the country.
You can see the T-shirts at the Foundation for Freedom web site if you click down the righthand sidebar.