Friday, August 3, 2007

Beating Around the Bush

Everyone's favourite world leader came up in unlikely circumstances in May this year when a passenger boarding a Qantas flight (incidentally the name Qantas originates from the first days of the airline as a tiny operation going under the snappy title 'Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service') was denied boarding and threatened with legal action for wearing a t-shirt depicting the leader of the free world.

Hapless Allen Jasson was sporting a shirt bearing an image of George Dubya with the slogan "Worlds Number One Terrorist" below it. This was beyond the pale in Qantas' view as it might offend other passengers. Mr Jasson, a 55 year old computer specialist who lives in London, had experienced trouble with the t-shirt before on Qantas flights, but on this occasion was not initially challenged. He was pleased with Qantas' new, tolerant, policy and went to the gate manager at Meblorne airport to compliment the airline on this. At this point he was told his garment was a security threat and ordered to remove it.

Qantas offered him the choice to continue on the flight with a different shirt, but MR. Jasson refused. It was a point of principle for him; as Mr Jasson said to Aussie media "I am not prepared to go without the t-shirt. I might forefit the fare, but I have made up my mind that I would rather stand up for the principle of free speech."

A Qantas representative defended the airline's position, saying "Whether made verbally or on a t-shirt, comments with the potential to offend customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft will not be tolerated."

There. So think before you dress before you fly.

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