In 2020, we made a TABOO tour, and 45 people came to explore what we cannot talk about in Vienna.
This time, we look at the relationship between laws and our lived reality - and particularly on cancelled culture. Lawyers are trying to stay up-to-date with the latest technology - on finances, privacy, porno or plagiarism.
We meet at Praterstern, because homelessness, drinking and being Afghan seem to be illegal there. Praterstrasse was home to Austria's first pop-up cycle lane, which was sabotaged by angry drivers, annoyed at some of their road space being taken away (though no congestion resulted from the change, since pandemic led to reduced mobility). However, Praterstrasse is one of the most-policed streets for cyclists, with regular fines for skipping red lights, or for having more than three bicycles waiting on some of the crossing islands. Bike riders seem to face more police interest than car drivers breaking regulations.
Eugene wanted to use another image for this tour above, but was not allowed to, because of the restrictions WKW have put on me. He has paid a total of €1.275 for making illegal tours - though paradoxically, those fines have made him into the most famous tour guide in Vienna.
This tour will look at how our values have changed - we now find homosexuality and pornography legal - but which law will change next? How easy is it to be a vegan in Wien? Or an alcoholic? Jewish people were expelled from this part of Vienna several times, but have returned (and in fact Vienna is one of the cities in Europe with the fewest attacks on Jews), but we live in an increasingly intolerant age, where people find their bubble and surround themselves with people who see the world the same way. This is dangerous, and unrealistic. Many academics do not accept conservative views, and only 1-in-14 professors in the USA describe themselves as right wing. This is not just unbalanced, but discriminatory, since business, and life, has become more capitalist in the last 30 years - just as academia gets defensive in the socialist corner.
Why is it possible in UK and USA to deny the Holocaust, but not in Austria? Why is Vienna the world capital of naturism, but has so much insecurity about showing your superiority (with academic qualifications and job titles)? Why do so few people greet the cashiers in Hofer, when getting served?
We will review some things which have recently been banned in Vienna, from a Pantera concert at Arena, to several demonstrations, the Oscar-nominated Corsage was withdrawn from many cinemas after allegations of possessing child pornography against one of its stars, and it happens often that advertising campaigns must be withdrawn, because of greenwashing, bad taste or sexism. The FPÖ seem to regularly provoke authorities with their racist provocations in posters.
From 1933-45, Jews were forbidden from wearing Tracht in Austria. And now some Nazi symbols and the salute are forbidden in public. The Habsburgs were banned from entering Austria after 1918, and then later from standing in Austrian elections, though eventually Otto W. was elected to the European Parliament, as a progressive member. Equally the surname prefix von- was banned, though it is now allowed in some exceptional cases.
Muslim women are currently forbidden from full face coverings in public space, with other restrictions on those who work with the public, for example in Kindergartens. And yet, in some FKK areas, it is considered unacceptable to be clothed.
Children in Vienna schools are forbidden from speaking their native languages in classroom (unless that language is English). Swearing seems to be much more common on ORF radio in English, than in German.
Graffiti is illegal, but street art, less so. Smoking in cafes used to be normal, but is now forbidden.
Wien Tourismus used a clever campaign to promote some of Egon Schiele's more sexy nude portraits, by telling Londoners they must travel to Vienna to see the naughty bits, due to restrictions on naked art images in British advertising. The Nazis banned all kinds of literature, ('degenerate') art, music and even shops. Actionism often tried to cross the line between self-expression and bad taste.
While social media has been trying to reform some of the disinformation available on Insta, Facebook and TikTok, Elon Musk's Twitter/X and Reddit/4chan are going in the other direction, as platforms for extreme views, from Trump to Q-Anon. Austria became the first country in the world to propose a requirement to be vaccinated against covid, or face fines, though this was withdrawn when it became clear a third of citizens preferred to become illegal than get injected.
Since the Ukraine invasion, there are many sanctions against Russian oligarchs, yachts, businesses and finances. There were even short-term bans on Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Sergei Eisenstein, which now look ridiculous. We should have less culture becoming forbidden. Free speech is healthy.
Falco's first single, Ganz Wien, was not allowed to be heard on Oe3, because of its drug references. These days, small amounts of some drugs are no longer forbidden. There was outrage from some feminists when it was announced that Yung Hurn would play at the opening of Wiener Festwochen 2022, because of his sexist and misogynist raps.
When Eugene's son Josef swears in English, I ask him where he learnt that word, and he always says, 'From YOU!'. British people, by the way, are not allowed to donate blood in in Austria, if they lived in UK in 1995, because of the danger they pass on Mad Cow Disease. It is time to change this law. Gay people were also forbidden, until recently, from giving blood, because of HIV fears.
Because of political correctness, it seems some young people avoid talking about subjects where they fear saying something offensive, on race, feminism or gender and trans rights.
From what age are young people allowed to drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke, have sex, marry, drive or vote? In 2023, UK raised the age people are allowed to get married, from 16 back up to 18, to avoid child marriages decided by parents or others.
Young legal campaigner Max Schrems has launched a powerful attack on data rights and for privacy, against the big tech companies. He believes we should forbid - or make more transparent - the effects of surveillance capitalism. A global campaigner based in Vienna, and a hero.
One of the features of Austrian life many immigrants find astonishing is the ban on shops opening on Sunday. This makes Vienna look so provincial and village like. It will change, we just wait to see how long this quirk will last. Do we want our city to look like a cosmopolitan metropolis, or a Dorf?
On the other hand, there are bans which not many people care about, like animal welfare in industrial meat production, speeding cars, and sharing Netflix subscriptions. One change in Vienna law which Eugene welcomed was the ban on heating your home with coal or wood, to keep buildings looking bright, and carbon emissions lower.
What are the current rules on prostitution?: We will give you an update. Who is allowed to play music in the streets? Are you allowed to close your street to cars for a day? Who can swim in Donaukanal? Wiener Linien has an enormous illustrated list of rules not to break, including not bringing explosives on the U-bahn - we wonder how many terrorists check the rules before choosing their target.
See you on the last day of July, to break all the rules.
This is one of sixteen walks in eight days, as part of Vienna Walking Week. The Week is Whoosh's summer campaign to celebrate the city, and walking, but also to build new networks and dialogue in Vienna, while saving carbon and money.