Wear a Che T-shirt, Go to Jail

In a proposal that has already caused a stir in the media and some vocal public debates, Polish Minister of Equality Elżbieta Radziszewska has called for a ban on items that promote fascist and totalitarian systems. The minister’s proposal threatens those who “produce and disseminate materials to promote fascism or other totalitarian systems,” according to TVP Info. While the proposed legislation largely aims at large-scale manufactures producing t-shirts and other merchandise with fascist or totalitarian imagery, critics worry that it could extend to punish teenagers ironically wearing Che Guevara t-shirts or CCCP (USSR) jackets. Those caught with such imagery could face up to two years in jail. At present, Article 256 of the Polish Penal Code allows up to two years in prison, but only for the active promotion of totalitarian regimes, or incitement of hatred on the grounds of race, nationality, or religion. In practice, this law is not enforced for those using totalitarian imagery. Perhaps the most interesting point brought up by Polish media has been whether Mrs. Radziszewska’s proposal is not a bit ironic – after all, the regimes she’s trying to eliminate from public display were very adamant about eliminating some symbols from public display themselves.

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