Posti has decided not to publish Freedom of speech stamps describing counterparts, due to the feedback of the Postiraati, which consists of customers. Many of the members of the Postiraati were rather confused by stamps featuring animal protection and immigration. Some of them considered the image motifs insulting and did not understand the connection of the stamps with the freedom of speech. With its decision, Posti wants to avoid aggravating discussion.
The freedom of speech was featured in the stamps using five themes: a fox stands for animal rights, different meals on a plate for differences in income, graffiti and opera for cultural values, a birch and a person dressed in a burqa/niqab for immigration and multiculturalism, and wind power and nuclear power for forms of energy.
The stamp sheet already aroused discussion before its publication and its picture world was interpreted from several viewpoints, as a result of which Posti conducted an inquiry of the stamps with its customers. The Postraati is Posti's consumer panel that Posti has previously used for collecting consumers' ideas and analyzing them in service development.
The replies of the Postiraati indicated that people had widely different opinions especially about the stamp on immigration. Almost a half of the respondents were confused about the Immigration stamp, and not all of them understood the message of the image pairs. Slightly over one fourth of the respondents had a negative attitude about the stamp, only a small minority a positive attitude and about one fourth a neutral attitude. More than 150 replies were obtained in the inquiry.
Posti's decision backed up by concerns about hate speech
According to Kaj Kulp, chairman of the Stamp committee, Posti's decision was based on serious concern about the fact that the impression communicated by the stamp could aggravate confrontation.
- According to the feedback we received, it was suspected that the stamp would insult Finns, Muslims, women, and immigrants. In addition, some of the respondents connected the stamp with violence, i.e. a gun barrel. We want to bear our responsibility and, therefore, decided not to publish the stamp sheet. We do not want to increase unnecessary confrontation in this era, Kulp says.
The intention of Ville Tietäväinen, the designer of the stamp, was to depict immigration as one of the themes that has led to discussion about the freedom of speech in Finland. The intention with the stamp itself is not to take a stance on immigration, let alone represent a positive or negative statement on different cultures or religions.
According to Kulp, work on planning the stamps already began a year and a half ago, when the situation was quite different.
- The freedom of speech also involves responsibility for social debate. The decision was based on serious consideration - we do not want to create confrontation or allow hate speech. We are a strongly multicultural company. Posti's employees in Finland represent more than 80 nationalities, Kaj Kulp says.
All of the subjects featured in the stamps are discussed in the Stamp committee with members from both Posti's personnel and outside of Posti. The subjects of stamps are selected on the basis of general interest. After the subject has been chosen, the Art committee selects a graphic designer and then assigns the work.