Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI brings prohibition to Poland


No adverts for sexy underwear, no naughty films, and hide your condoms when the Pope is in town! Why are the Polish authorities so afraid of the masses?

Pope Benedict will be in Poland in the last week of May. He will visit Krakow, Warsaw, Jasna Gora and Auschwitz. It’s a high profile tour for the obvious reason that it’s the first visit by the new pontiff since the death of John Paul II last year.

So, to make sure that Poles behave themselves while he is in the country, a whole series of restrictions will be in place in the media and in bars and pubs.

And a group of Catholic journalists (?) will be scouring the airwaves for ‘adult content’ on public TV. UPI reports:

‘There will be no sexy ads, no raunchy soap operas and no commercials for condoms on the state TVP network. Even ads for underwear will be scratched when in-house Catholic censors get to work next week.‘

No frilly undies? Surly the Vatican can’t have anything against frilly underwear? I don’t remember reading anything in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s frilly knickers’!

An ad for the FIFA World Cup in June, in which a man and woman are seen having sexual intercourse, has already been taken off the air.

Shock, horror!

The TV network's list of unacceptable ads also includes those for 'intimate hygiene products' (??) and `explosives and flammable materials (???).'

Blimey!

And some areas of the country – the measure is being left to the discretion of the local authorities – will ban alcohol over 4 percent in strength.

When Pope John Paul II was here, many times, the bars and clubs were only allowed to sell very weak beer… One from the Czech Republic was the favourite. JP II was in Warsaw for three days once and that meant all the bars were dry for a whole weekend! Thousands of us tried to find places that were breaking the ban. After scouring the city for a bar that would give me a drink I finally found one right next door to where I live. The nice barmaid, who recogised me, took pity and gave me a nice vodka and orange. And then another one, and another...

But it all begs the question: what are the authorities so afraid of? That the Pope might discover Poles like drinking lots of alcohol? Or that Poles like to watch the occasional soft-porn flick? Or that Poles like to wear frilly knickers and use condoms?

I am sure our new German Pope knows all that already. The prohibitions are merely the equivalent of cleaning up the front room before your mother arrives at your place for tea and cakes. It might fool her that you keep the place that clean all the time, even when she is not there...

...but don’t underestimate your mother. Or Pope Benedict 16.

The bans are just treating Poles like a bunch of naughty kids. But it's the authorities who are the infantile ones.

45 comments:

DBN said...

Beatroot,

Check out the new Poland survey in The Economist. It's very good.

DBN

beatroot said...

In fact, I have the new Economist right here in front of me...

Cheers DBN!

roman said...

Great picture of the Pope. Was he responding to a casting call for the Phantom of the Opera?
More on point, I don't really see a problem here.
When we invite friends and relatives over for dinner, we (my wife and me) clean up as I suspect most of us do. It's just a way to insure your guests get the appropriate respect they deserve.

DBN said...

Beetroot,

Were you at the press conference today?

beatroot said...

No, that was my twin brother, Angus.

beatroot said...

I see what you mean, Roman.

What I think I was trying to say is that do you really think that The Pope believes that Poles do not drink alcohol and wear condoms?

Of course he doesn't.

And ya Ma ain't that stupid either.

Basically, the alcohol ban is becuase they are acared of people getting pissed and turning up to mass thinking that its a football match.

And the definition of 'adult content' on public television is ridiculous.

Eugene said...

Beatroot, you are missing the point completely. The pope is a sacred guest in Poland and for Roman Catholic Poles, and out of pure moral respect and etiquette, they are banning alchohol and other undesirable content. No person, religion, or ethnic group is 100% perfect. Every society in this world has its good and bad apples. Also, this isn't the first time the Polish government has implemented such a ban. It was done previously in June, 1999 with the popes visit. Poles aren't trying to show anyone they don't drink alcohol or view porn. That is an insane assumption. So why bring it up now and criticize this policy as if the ban was for the first time? It's nothing new. This 'ban' is the same as you cleaning up your apartment for some important guests. Eventually, your apartment gets dirty again.

beatroot said...

Eugene: it's you who is missing the point, maybe.

Poles aren't trying to show anyone they don't drink alcohol or view porn. That is an insane assumption.

Yes, I know...it's called 'irony'.

The pope is a sacred guest in Poland and for Roman Catholic Poles, and out of pure moral respect and etiquette, they are banning alchohol and other undesirable content.

Who is telling who, exactly, what is 'undesirable content'? Why are you asuming that everyone in Poland thinks that the Pope is a 'sacred guest'? Sacred can only to apply to the religious. Not everyone is religious in Poland.

Who are these 'Catholic journlaists' and how are they qualified to tell non catholics (and those who are not bothered, one way or another) what is, or is not 'desirable'?

Many other countries have hosted the Pope without this 'gesture'.

And why stop at public television? Why not be authoritarian to private TV as well? Why stop there? How about the press?

Why don't they let individuals express their faith as they think fit...and leave the rest alone?

If Poles really think that the Pope is a sacred guest then they would treat him like one. They don't need the authorities to decide for them how they should express that respect.

Or are they scared that many Poles wouldn't be that respectful?

DBN said...

If you want to read some of Wildstein's (new public TV boss) "golden ideas", here's the link:

http://www.wprost.pl/ar/?O=86452

beatroot said...

I had better explain that Wildstein is a very controversial, right wing journo here, who you can read all about (with a bit of help from me) at wikipedia...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronislaw_Wildstein

After you read that - and you take into account the conservative government's social and political cleansing agenda (it's a new Sanacja regime!) - you will understand why the guy is an interesting choice for public television (previously accused of being a hotbead of commies and liberals...the very people this government hates.

Michael Farris said...

Slightly off-topic: It never ceases to amaze me how certain people (who supposedly have some understanding of how communist Poland worked) will take the files of the secret police completely seriously at face value.

Like every other enteprise by the communists, I'm sure there's lots of inaccuracies and outright fabrications in them (I'm sure agents had quotas and if they were having a hard time meeting them they just made crap up). Ihave a hard time taking the contents completely seriously, which is one of the main reasons I'm against lustracja (in Wildstein's universe equivalent with "getting even").

Romerican said...

Is it just me or does Ratzinger look like Satan incarnate in each and every single one of his photos? They just has the appearance of evil. It's uncanny.

I must have missed some posts or the subtlties therein where I should have understood that Poland is a theocracy.

Roman, I don't just find this piece to be interesting or disturbing, personally I find it downright disgusting. This is the sort of behavior I'd expect from the stereotype of an extremist islamist theocracy like the Taliban (but not, surprisingly, from Iran)... not a nation like Poland which should be educated enough to not let random men in pointy hats and dresses (who give themselves king-like titles such as "Pope Ananias XVIII" when it's not even their name) cause an upheaval of normal, daily life. It's good to maintain some security for his arrival and visit. It's good to make sure that there aren't 900 drunk people in a street fight. But to change everything and anything in a radical theology-driven denial of life? That's laughable. And the people are being treated like children.

I do hope some group of people finds some pretense under which to protest the arrival of "the Pope" (which is like saying TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsPrince, Esther, or The Donald). Pretense shouldn't be difficult as there's much to complain about the Catholic church.

beatroot said...

Do I get the impression, romerican, that you are not too impressed by the Catholic church?

I think that Ratzinger (the zinger of rats!) should see Poland as it really is, not as some in authority want to believe it is like.

So let the drunks come to the feet of the man in a pointy hat...we are all children under God (they say), even the one's who have drunk too much vodka and fall over quite a lot in the street...

And will they be turning off the 'adult channel' in the hotels?

roman said...

romerican,
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about the Pope.
Calm down and take a stress pill.
Seriously, though, the Pope has more clout and more respect in Poland than most other visiting dignitaries.
It may not be the person himself, but the concept he symbolizes. Don't forget that it is the workings of the office of the Pope, as much as JP II, that freed Poland from the grasp of the Soviets. I venture to say that he is as important to Poland as is Simon Bolivar to most of South America.
Again, a little clean up will not make Poland a theocracy overnight.
It's a tempest in a teapot, not a Cat5 Hurricane.

gumish said...

Michael - your impression of how would Polish communist secret police - or whatever you call these guys - work, may be just it - an impression. My opinion is, the system would fall much quicker if they were so crap. Even if everything was crap in communism something must have been there to hold it in place or the whole thing would just flow down the drain. On how possibly could intelligence be run, look up Anatoliy Golitsyn. I have only read excerpts available on the internet but they are intriguing enough. This is about KGB - which I believe you agree never was crap. Another interesting thing is the KGB is still there, a most probably so are their agents.

Michael Farris said...

"Even if everything was crap in communism something must have been there to hold it in place or the whole thing would just flow down the drain."

Excuse me, isn't that exactly what happened?

Okay, I think the files are largely accurate (for the sake of argument, let's say 90%) but there's probably too much inaccurate/manufactured information (and not much way of knowing which information is inaccurate/manufactured) for them to be actually be used as serious evidence.

I'm in favor of going after those guilty of serious crimes, but I think a purge of public life based on possibly corrupted sources is ... not a good idea and will do _nothing_ to solve the real problems that Poland faces (and which are mostly being ignored or exacerbated by the present government.

beatroot said...

I agree Mike.

Serious crimes are ...serious...so let's get the bastards. But the whole thing has turned into a witchhunt. The preseent day ex-commies, although lots of them got their sticky fingers of the post-communist pie and are doing very nicely (which is the thing that really winds up the PiS-ites0 their policies are normal, European social democrat. Many, many Polea are looking to vore for something like that, the only problem is...they are ex-commies.

Problem. It means that there is a big hole where the left should be in Poland.

beatroot said...

Gumish: Even if everything was crap in communism something must have been there to hold it in place or the whole thing would just flow down the drain.

That 'something' was called the Soviet army and the tanks on the border. I hate those old commie fools as much as you. I used to be an active socialist, but it was very hard to make the case when you had those kinds of people running places like Poland. And the only thing that kept the whole sorry show on the road was the threat of invasion, like in Czech or Hungary.

Any regime that has to lock its people in the country is a failure from the start...

Eugene said...

beatroot said...

"Serious crimes are ...serious...so let's get the bastards. But the whole thing has turned into a witchhunt. The preseent day ex-commies, although lots of them got their sticky fingers of the post-communist pie and are doing very nicely (which is the thing that really winds up the PiS-ites)..."

Beatroot, both the Nazis along with their henchmen, and the Communists, have committed excessive crimes against the Polish nation and people of all religions. The Simon Weisenthal Center with ardent support of the Polish government seeks and prosecutes all known Nazi war criminals. This isn't considered to be a 'witchhunt' at all. Why shouldn't the same type of investigation be conducted by the Polish government in punishing Communists and former communists. You don't consider crimes committed by communists against Poles and the nation worthy enough of such probe? Using the term 'witchhunt' only discredits such a moral duty and minimizes its significance. The fact that many former communists illegally enriched themselves doesn't only anger PiS-ites, but anyone else with ethical standards. This is a case of fairnes, and not one of sour grapes in who became wealthy. The Nazis also unfairly enriched themselves at the expense of innocent victims. That doesn't anger you?


From an earlier post:
"Who is telling who, exactly, what is 'undesirable content'?"

Majority world public opinion, the Bible, Torah, Koran, common sense. The grey area isn't too ambiguous regarding this topic of what is 'generally' acceptable and not.

"Why are you asuming that everyone in Poland thinks that the Pope is a 'sacred guest'? Sacred can only to apply to the religious."

Would the terms 'distinctive' or 'noteworthy' suit you?

"Not everyone is religious in Poland."

Agreed, however 'most' people in Poland 'are' practicing Catholics, the highest percentage in Europe. That makes quite a difference.

"Many other countries have hosted the Pope without this 'gesture'."

That's because every country has unique traditions, culture, and etiquette. Poland included.

"Why don't they let individuals express their faith as they think fit...and leave the rest alone?"

'Faith' meaning religion? Everyone is Poland has the freedom of religion. You know this.

So, what is so detrimental about this ban anway? Again, it has occurred before in Poland. If it truly does bother anyone, simply go out tonight to the nearest mall, stock up on your favorite beer, porn, sexual toys...then smile and indulge yourself in orgasmic pleasure during the ban.

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