clever twat of the month (just when you thought i was running out of 4 letter words)

Merkel agrees to squat on Erdogan’s face on prime-time TV
Robert Mackey, The Intercept, Apr 15 2016

02_AP177826513011-article-headerJoint presser at the chancellery in Berlin in February

Merkel alienated a broad swathe of the German public on Friday by approving a request from Turkey to prosecute Jan Böhmermann, a comedian who insulted Erdogan by reading an obscene poem about him on late-night television. In the same statement, however, Merkel said that her government would move to repeal the law Böhmermann appears to have violated, an obscure provision of the German penal code that makes it a crime to insult foreign heads of state. If approved, the change would not take effect until 2018. In the meantime, Böhmermann now faces possible prosecution both for breaking that law, an artifact of the ancient prohibition on hurting the feelings of monarchs known as lèse-majesté, and for ordinary defamation, because Erdogan has also filed a separate complaint with a state prosecutor. As The Intercept reported on Wednesday, Böhmermann’s poem, which describes Erdogan as a foul monster who has sex with goats and “watches child porn while kicking Kurds,” was presented to viewers as part of a sketch about the difference between the sort of satirical insults of the notoriously prickly Erdogan that are permitted under German law and legally prohibited slander. Böhmermann clearly calculated that his fictional portrait of Erdogan as a sex offender would infuriate the Turkish president but still be permitted, since the offensive claims were so clearly exaggerated for comic effect. His confidence appears to have been misplaced, however. According to Dr Ralph Oliver Graef, an expert on media law in Hamburg, Böhmermann is likely to lose if either case goes to trial. Graef told The Intercept:

You can’t break the law to say: “This is what’s illegal.” You can’t shoot someone to say: “This is murder, but I am not guilty.” As an example of how strict an interpretation of defamation is usually applied in German courts, you can be convicted of slander and fined merely for calling someone an asshole in an argument on the street. And yet, despite the fact that public opinion is very pro-Böhmermann in Germany,  the prosecutors will still have an open-and-shut case, once they set aside the political context. I have never come across such a very drastic and very insulting poem, because every line is insulting. A normal person would go to court and they would win automatically. The language used by Böhmermann had nothing to do with the political positions of Erdogan, and thus could be justified, but was merely used to attack him as a human being. Under German constitutional law human dignity shall be inviolable. German newspapers across the political spectrum (which support Böhmermann) are playing their own game. If this would be allowed, then this would be a landmark case, then we can get rid of libel and slander. These strong legal protections against defamation are connected to Germany’s restrictions on hate speech. There are people here who post on Facebook and other social networks comments like: “You fucking immigrants, go home or we will gas you.” These people are rightly prosecuted and everyone applauds, because of Germany’s history. If you agree that hate speech at a certain level is punishable, then you have to be open to the idea that some things are not allowed to be said, even about a dictator.

Merkel’s decision not to block the prosecution of Böhmermann caused a rift in her governing coalition, and was publicly denounced by FM Steinmeier and JM Maas, Social Democrats in coalition with the chancellor’s Christian Democrats. The two men revealed that they had both voted against granting Turkey’s request for a federal prosecution but had been overruled by Merkel. Thomas Oppermann, another of the party’s leaders said:

Prosecution of satire because of lèse-majesté is not compatible with modern democracy.

One Comment

  1. lobro
    Posted April 17, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Böhmermann’s defense should rest on the fact that Erdogan is not the head of the state but its asshole, thus no law was broken.

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