Rude to a tee

P A R E N T A L   W A R N I N G   A D V I C E

The following story includes a naughty word, the sort of word young Tristan or Chelsea probably hears every day in the playground, or catches on TV where it’s said with gleeful abandon. But just in case you’re prone to faint when seeing naughty words in print, we thought we’d better warn you. Think of the children!

POLICE have clarified that it is not an offence to wear a t-shirt saying “Fuck Tony Abbott”.

At Sunday’s March in March protest a police officer ordered a protestor to remove his t-shirt.

Witness Sam Cavallaro, co-convenor of Equal Love WA, says “they told him he needed to take his shirt off and turn it inside out, and that it was a criminal offence to be wearing the shirt”.

“I think [the charge] was along the lines of disorderly behaviour. They were saying that by wearing the shirt he was acting disorderly in public.

“He put up a bit of a protest, there was a bit of to and fro I think… he was talking about free speech, that he has a right to protest and have political opinions on his shirt.

“He ended up taking his shirt off after a while.”

It’s not an isolated incident, with Mr Cavallaro running into similar problems at an Equal Love protest. Socialist Alliance senate candidate Chris Jenkins told the Voice that at a protest in Forrest Place last year he was wearing a shirt that said “unfuck the world”. A police officer told him kids could see it and be offended and he should buy a new shirt from Myer.

“I said, ‘what, a shirt made by kids?’” Mr Jenkins says.

Police media acting senior sergeant Naomi Smith says a swear word on a shirt is “not actually an offence”.

“It doesn’t constitute a disorderly conduct under the act.”

She says the word wouldn’t constitute obscene material either, “so technically someone wearing ‘Fuck Tony Abbot” on their t-shirt is not an offence”.

She said an officer could ask someone to remove the t-shirt, but couldn’t force them or threaten a charge.

“It’s one of those things as a copper, you’d hopefully use a bit of discretion, a bit of tact.”

by DAVID BELL

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