Age of reason it's not

Warning! This article contains images that may offend people and that Qantas Airlines has determined are a threat to aircraft security.

The war on terror has become a war on common sense.

When historians look back on our times there is no danger whatsoever of them calling this an Age of Reason. Terrorphobia has set in.

The latest example of how the constant drumbeat about terrorism has warped judgment and driven common sense to extinction comes from Down Under, a place not usually given to hysterical over-reaction. An Australian IT expert was barred from boarding a Qantas flight from Melbourne to London because he was wearing a T-shirt that the airline deemed might "offend other customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft."

Allen Jasson wearing a T-shirt banned by Qantas airlines Allen Jasson wearing a T-shirt banned by Qantas airlines

Presumably Qantas justifies its actions under the Right to Refuse Carriage clause of its Terms and Conditions:

11. Right to Refuse Carriage

Qantas reserves the right to refuse carriage to any person who seeks to travel in violation of applicable law, tariffs or the General Conditions of Carriage, or is otherwise in breach of these Terms and Conditions, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or it is necessary for the safety or comfort of other passengers or for the protection of property.

If ever there was a slippery slope, this is it!

• Can Jasson's T-shirt do physical damage to Qantas' property, i.e., the aircraft? Obviously not.

• Does the shirt affect other passengers' safety? Not unless it is laced with explosives or anthrax spores or other harmful or toxic substance, and nothing of the sort is alleged.

• What, precisely, is the scenario that Qantas' envisions might develop that would present a danger to passengers' safety? That a fist-fight will break out between pro-Bush and anti-Bush factions on the flight? That objects may be hurled at Jasson and strike others? Not bloody likely. If these things didn't happen in the airport, they are hardly likely to happen in the air. Besides, it's hard to find even Republicans who will still support Bush.

• Or was it the particular design of the shirt that was offensive? Would this shirt have passed muster?


• Would Qantas have made the same decision if the picture on the shirt had been anybody else, say Osama bin Laden? We'll never know, but it seems doubtful.

heart gwb

• What if the shirt had expressed adoration of George Bush? Might that not have been equally offensive to some other passengers? Would that shirt have been banned? I think not.

(Okay. I confess I had to fabricate a t-shirt expressing love of GWB, because even Google couldn't find a picture of such a thing!)

• Just how offensive does something have to be to warrant barring another passenger? For example, would Qantas bar an overweight young woman with a bare roll of midriff fat or a young man with jeans hanging below his butt exposing his underwear because I find it offensive?



Who knew that the spirit of Australia had been lost?