Grand Hotel in Stockholm – you make your bed, you lie in it. 

Today I wrote a comment on Stockholm’s Grand hotel’s FB page. This is what I wrote: 

‘Companies can decide themselves who they want to do business with. Hopefully their decisions are based on some kind of vision and social responsibility. That’s why I am so surprised that Grand Hotel chose to accommodate a gala event of Europe’s fascists hosted by Sweden’s right wing racist party last night. You have damaged your reputation and you have lost this customer. I will personally never set foot across your threshold again and I will never recommend your hotel to any friends or business acquaintances. Appropriately for a hotel – ‘you make your bed, you lie in it’.

My comment got a lot of likes, but also I was accused of hating democracy, of being false, of being a liar. The trolls were out. I was told that if I don’t like it, I can leave the country. The concept of freedom of speech was used as a main argument. 

This made me curious about what freedom of speech actually means in Sweden, since it got thrown at me as an insult. This is what I found:

Freedom of speech is regulated in three parts of the Constitution of Sweden:

1) Fundamental Rights and Freedoms protects personal freedom of expression “whether orally, pictorially, in writing, or in any other way”

2) Freedom of the Press Act protects the freedom of printed press, as well as the principle of free access to public records (Principle of Public Access) and the right to communicate information to the press anonymously

3) Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression extends protections to other media, including television, radio and web sites.

However, most interesting and relevant for the net trolls and the haters at the Grand Hotel, Sweden’s Freedom of Speech laws do not mean everything is ok. 

There are clear ‘Hate speech laws’ which prohibit threats or expressions of contempt based on race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.

So to all the trolls out there, don’t throw freedom of speech at me or at anybody else who stands up for democratic communication without first knowing what you are talking about. There is no freedom to express your kind of hate in Sweden, and if you don’t like that – you can move to Russia. 

How Swedes reflect on their mortality


Thankfully, it isn’t every day that you are faced with death. It is isn’t every day we contemplate our own mortality. Probably a good thing. Imagine what life would be like if we thought about death all the time.

But this weekend is an opportunity to do just that. Tomorrow is All Saints’ Eve. Well, not technically. All Saints’ Eve is actually October 31st. But in Sweden, they are practical and, since 1953, they round it up to the nearest weekend and call it a public holiday.

Legislation aside, tomorrow is the day in Sweden when people reflect over life, death and those who have passed away. It is a peaceful time. It is a beautiful time.

Graveyards around the country twinkle with candle light. Relatives flock to the burial grounds and light candles and lanterns and place them by the graves of their loved ones. It is a miraculous sight to see the dark cemetries twinkling and glowing with bright white lights. It brings scerenity and majesty to an otherwise intensive and dark time of the year.

On Österlen in the rural south of Sweden, they have taken it a step further. A festival called ‘Österlen Lyser’ – Österlen shines – happens this weekend. The dark villages and fields are lit up with candles, flares, lanterns and torches. People play lantern-illuminated night time boule by the edge of the sea. Choirs sing, windows glow and open bonfires celebrate this dark time of the year.

It isn’t every day that you are faced with death. Full respect to Halloween, which is also taking hold in Sweden, but I don’t need to be reminded of witches, vampires and zombies. The less commercial traditional Swedish approach provides a more reflective vehicle for us to contemplate our own mortality and remember those we loved.