Friday, April 24, 2009

I hate the lionization of Che, but it's wrong to ban his image

Whenever I see the iconic image of Che Guevara displayed on some t-shirt I always feel a bit of anger which is usually overwhelmed by a wave of pity for the wearer. Anger because of the fact they are carrying a symbol of genocidal authoritarianism on their chest and pity because they are obviously too dumb to realise it.

But even though it makes me ever so slightly angry and is clearly something which no right minded person would want to associate themselves with, I don't agree with the idea of banning it - or any other symbols related to authoritarianism.

The iconic image of Che Guevara found adorning students' walls and t-shirts across the world could be banned in Poland under a government proposal to outlaw materials that incite "fascism and totalitarian systems".

As someone who believes in real freedom of speech I believe it is wrong to suppress anybody from holding or expressing freely held beliefs and views - regardless of how repugnant they may be to others. Of course it should not be permissible for someone to openly advocate violence or, indeed incite others to violence - and there are laws to prevent that* - but that is not the same as this.

One of the benefits of living in a liberal (traditional - not progressive) democracy is also one of its biggest drawbacks - the right to say and think things which others might find objectionable. We've already seen moves in this country to curtail that such as restrictions on what you can and can not say about people of a different race or sexual orientation - that is the path that leads to authoritarianism and should be resisted by all people who genuinely believe in true liberal democracy and genuine freedom of thought and expression.

It is generally the reflex of the very systems that these moves seek to ban that are being applied here - Nazism was built on crushing any view which did not fit its own particular narrow world view and communism was the same.

So even though I find the sight of Che Guevara splashed across the chest of some dumb idiot objectionable, I will defend their right to wear it.

* Laws which seem to be ignored or rarely applied when it comes to Islam.

1 comment:

phantom menace said...

AGREE 100%, it is something I have often got annoyed about when you see someone wearing an "iconic" image or something and they have no idea what it actally means, they just wear it cos they think its "cool" I feel the same way when I see a 12 yr old wondering rond with a pictre of kurt cobain, (and I am a fan of their work) but how can a 12 year old know what kurt stood for?! same thing with Che...just random kids wearing it to make themselves look intelligent or caring or cos he was a "revolutionary" yeah basically what I am saying is...I agree with wht ur saying! #
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