Erdoğan is a soppy fool with a fase like a pig’s bum

Apparently Erdoğan gets to tell Merkel to prosecute German citizens for making jokes about Erdoğan. Philip Oltermann in the Guardian:

Angela Merkel has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.

Oh please. The issue is whether such a thing should be prosecuted in the first place, not whether the comedian is “guilty” or not.

“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.

What personal rights is she talking about? Is she saying Erdoğan has a personal right not to be joked about in Germany? What other rights could be at issue here?

Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.

Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.

Golly. So German law allows for prosecution of insults against organs or representatives of foreign states. Why?

Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.

The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat[ic] ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”

There are also issues of freedom of information, freedom of inquiry, freedom to hear and see and read. It’s not just that the comedian should be free to “insult” foreign heads of state, it’s also that German citizens should be free to listen to comedians who do that kind of thing. The German people have an interest in this as well as the German performing and writing class.

“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”

(Side bar: There we go, they got it right that time – Social Democratic party, not Social Democrat party.)

Quite so. One wonders why they have a lèse-majesté law on the books at all.

The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years.

Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.

Several opposition parties, including the Greens and Alternative für Deutschland, had called for the law to be scrapped in the wake of the scandal.

Well good, but in the meantime – how ridiculous to prosecute Böhmermann.

The poem was read in a short clip on a late-night programme screened on the German state broadcaster ZDF at the end of last month. Böhmermann sat in front of a Turkish flag beneath a small, framed portrait of Erdoğan, reading out a poem that accused the Turkish president of, among other things, “repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians”.

The scene was broadcast shortly after it emerged that Turkey had demanded the deletion of a satirical song from a German comedy show, extra3, and Böhmermann’s poem was deliberately framed as a test of the boundaries of satire.

Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.

Definitely. Heads of state should always be immune from criticism and satire. Hail Caesar.

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