Are students at Kungsholmens Gymnasium being denied their freedom of expression?

By on December 17, 2013 in Columns
This picture has been digitally altered (more than once)

This picture has been digitally altered (more than once)

I had been looking forward to my third year spex photo since I started Kungsholmens Gymnasium back in 2011. As usual, I had a million ideas abut what my class could do for the spex but when the day finally arrived to decide what to do, my mind was blank, along with most of my fellow classmates. A few politically correct democratic voting procedures later we had an idea. It might not have been the best spex idea ever but it had a personal touch to it as it revolved around quotes, incidents and jokes that been said or done during our years here at KG.

With a bit of stripping, baking certain disguised goods, collecting of empty liquor bottles, acquiring various odd props and printing out large letters on stray pieces of A4 paper we were ready. (Or at least as ready as you can be at 8 am in the morning with a few latecomers…)

We had been forewarned by friends at other schools that our theme “Party at Sarah’s” might not be allowed by the school and Svenskt Skolfoto but we decided to stick with the idea anyway. Therefore, when the photographer refused to include our various Absolut and Jack Daniels bottles in the photo, we accepted her censorship. But just how much she would censor our photo we could never have imagined…

Besides the alcohol, along with the cigarettes being abolished from the photo, certain items of clothing, props, symbols, acting and even our sign “Party at Sarah’s” were altered to become somewhat politically correct. Apparently the name Sarah objectified people called Sarah so instead in the most censored version of our photo (which happened to be the one which was published) most of the class point to Sarah in our class as the sign bearing her name was not allowed despite her approval. How pointing viguorously at a person does not objectify a person more than a sign bearing five letters I have a hard time comprehending.

Now looking at our censored photo, it does not showcase our original idea. It does not live up to all the fun, internal jokes we share as a class which was meant to be caught on camera so the legacy of them could live on until we turn old and grey. I find that kind of sad.

After getting the school catalogue three months after the photo shoot, I understood why it took such a long time to receive it. If you look at the spex photos they have all been photoshopped, which also implies that many of them have been censored. Some of the other classes’ spex have been censored to such an extreme that the whole point of their photo has been diminished. For example, S3A’s photo shows a bunch of 18 year olds dressed up as rabbits holding a plain, white sign with nothing on it together with a blurred picture of what looks like a face. I stared intently at the photo and tried to understand why on earth this class had decided to dress up as rabbits of all things whilst holding a sign which was blank. It was only until I remembered a conversation I had had a few weeks earlier about the spex photos that I put two and two together. S3A must’ve been the class that had a sign saying “GY11 killed us” (Jan Björklund’s gymnasium reforms are considered very tough by students) which was completely edited out of the picture, leaving an empty sign. They were dressed as försökskaniner – i.e. Jan Björklund’s guinea pigs. I realised that their brilliant joke had been censored to such an extent that the whole point of the picture was lost and now just looked ridiculous and incoherent.

Apparently, making a simple, light-hearted joke about a politician is not allowed anymore, at least not at Kungsholmens Gymnasium. Where is our freedom of expression? Why does everything have to be so politically correct all the time? Has society lost the whole concept of irony? Are we meant to live on badly formulated puns like typical “naturskämt” for the rest of our lives? I guess so, because all good jokes have been censored and Argon.

The censored photo published in the school catalogue

The censored photo published in the school catalogue

This article was edited on 18.12.13. Initially it was thought that the sign bore the text “Björklunds försökskaniner” (Björklund’s guinea pigs), but it was later verified that the text was actually “GY11 killed us” before it was censored.