I think this was an intelligent move. She complied with Erdogans request and in return says a big "F* Y" by eliminating the law and saving the comedian.
Sure she can. People snub each other in politics all the time (even when they're joined at the hip). It's called "setting boundaries", and letting people know they can only count on so many indulgences from you. In fact, it is precisely through their willingness to take a stand (even at the cost of temporarily upsetting their allies or coalition partners) that stronger politicians distinguish themselves.
But even if she didn't want to offend his sensibilities -- there are bigger issues at play, such as the fact that Erdoğan is not only acting like a bully in this case (as he normally does at home), but is expecting the German government to do his dirty work for him. And hence, tacitly, to take "his" side in the Great War of Values on openness, and freedom of expression.
That's why Merkel got it wrong. What she needs to do is both act to abolish the law and exercise her discretion in declining to prosecute this case.
Which starkly contrasts with Erdoğan's contempt for the rule of law and anything that gets in his way.
The German constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the case will undoubtedly be dismissed when it reaches the courts.
(And I agree that laws such as this should be abolished.)
(By the way, prosecutors are anyway bound to instruction in Germany (usually by the state governments). That doesn't mean the governments should actually use that power.)
The hurdle for civil suits (libel / slander / plain insults) is much lower in Germany. Flip someone the bird and you're 2000 EUR lighter.
> (And I agree that laws such as this should be abolished.)
Yes; it's anachronistic to persecute this as a crime, but as it stands now, I expect a verdict (most likely minimum sentence and parole). Maybe there's a way out by somehow spinning the matter in a way that makes Boehmermann look like he did not intend to actually broadcast the stuff; i.e. claiming that it was accidentally leaked.
Not that they're doing even close to a good job of that right now.
Calling the guy a goat fucker? In the US, with the PC sensitivity, you can go to jail for far less...
PC sensitivity has nothing to do with legal rights. This is the country that allows protesting soldier's funerals with "god hates faggots"—one of the least pc actions I've ever witnessed—and only restricts the distance at which the protest can take place.
Also, Obama and Erdogan both fuck goats all day long. This might land me in jail in Turkey, but I'm gonna guess most people reading this post (including Obama, if he didn't have better things to do) would roll their eyes and move on.
There are libel laws that might provide some limited personal protection, but this would be civil court and not criminal court.
Perhaps we may (regrettably) go down that road someday and perhaps there are instances of police overstepping their bounds to regulate "proper" speech, but I'd be willing to bet* my next pay check that being arrested for calling somebody a goat fucker would not hold up in court.
* - OK, not my whole check but like $5
If you called a judge a "goat fucker" in their court room, I suspect you would be in some hot water.
One could argue there's not a huge leap between rules/laws requiring respectful behavior towards judges in a court room and a law requiring respectful behavior towards world leaders...
Edit: Not sure why I'm being downvoted -- I'm not defending the German law, just pointing out that it's not that different from contempt-of-court punishments in the US.
Here's a girl in the United States who had a judge raise her bail just because she said "adios" instead of "bye", and then put her in jail for a month for saying "fuck you": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rrRGhvpEjo
Now, in an unfortunate turn of events should Cruz become POTUS I don't know if such a statement would be seen differently because I'd believe that he does do that.
One guy spent an extra 2 months in prison. What else could be meant by "go to jail"??
Because we allow judges to hand down sentences in order to maintain the decorum of the courtroom.
> It shows in the United States there are people that can arbitrarily add months to your jail sentence for insulting them, or simply send you to jail if you happen to do it while being in the same room they're in.
Not specific people, specific officers of the court who are performing the duties which pertain to being such. You could insult a judge outside of a courtroom all you want and they wouldn't be able to do any more about it than any other private person. Even less, actually, given that the judge is a "public official" under the law and, therefore, the Sullivan "actual malice" standard applies, which makes it substantially more difficult for someone to prove defamation.
In the final link, the speaker was even awarded damages for unjust arrest.
OTOH, there's an established body of precedent in the U.S. (which fortunately, not too long ago, wasn't anywhere near as PC as it is now -- far from it, in fact) saying that politicians and big enough celebrities are fair game for non-specific, purely pejorative insults (like "goat fucker"), as long as they don't stray into the territory of making a specific claim of fact (e.g. "I saw the Senator drilling a away at a captive goat behind the shed the other day, and boy, you should have seen the look on his face!")
There is a very important context to the 'he called him a goat fucker': The - admittedly very crude - 'poem' he made is embedded in the context of basically explaining what the German law is about, and what you can not say.
There is also another part of history: Erdogan complained about another, earlier satire show on German TV. Boehmermann was referencing this and the earlier attempts of censorship by Erdogan, and basically said 'look, we could call you this, but we didn't, we just clearly expressed our opinions and this is our freedom of expression here in Germany'.
This is the closest to this. Except that she posted a phone number which caused the victim to be harassed by a whole lot of other people. She wasn't arrested for calling her names, she was arrested and possibly charged because of this fact alone.
All of these others appear to be threatening messages, which, while somewhat controversial, are different animals than a simple name calling/satire post. Some would say it'd be negligent not to investigate and/or charge them with this if said action threatened actually came about.
The other is a comment made to a judge. They were arrested for contempt of court. This is entirely different, because only judges get to make this call in the US. Lots of people probably say similar statements on Facebook about POTUS, I've seen people say it without coming out and saying it but they weren't afraid of the law in this case.
The last case was acquitted, shown to NOT be legally arrested. Kind of disproves your claim, or at least offers contrary evidence.
PC bullies are nothing more than just that. impotent bullies. they have no power and have no law behind them.
if I want to call someone a goat fucker, be it leader of a country or the guy next door, I can do so without fear of prosecution.
I personally think heads of state that turn authoritarian should be offended much more often and harder. In this regard, Merkel's decision is absolutely the wrong signal.
That might be the actual outcome. Erdogan might quite well loose the case which would establish that he's fair game.
The idea that we should wait 10 to 15 years to judge foreign policy (or any other) actions is just beyond comment...
No need for elections every 4-5 years either, we should better wait 10-15 years to judge a government/leader, when it's absolutely certain how their laws/actions panned out.
From a "face"/PR standpoint. She lost big.
By "giving in" to Turkey's insane demand, it sets a precedent for taking future demands seriously. Germany just gave an authoritarian state a seat at the big kids table.
A flat out denial to engage Turkey's unreasonable demand would have highlighted how absurd it was in the public sphere. Instead, we have a bunch of articles highlighting Merkel. Erdogan played her like a fiddle.
>"In a country under the rule of law, it is not up to the government to decide," Merkel said. //
Which seems exactly right; there's no decision she made other than to not attempt to interfere with the established rule of law - who would allow that to happen??
>Germany just gave an authoritarian state a seat at the big kids table. //
Which seems to be nonsense. Instead Germany allowed someone to bring a private prosecution to court as is the right according to that country's legislation; not doing that would a complete breech of democratic process and the rule of law. Just because someone brings a frivolous prosecution doesn't mean you suddenly tear down the basis for open society and create a sui generis action against them, you let the law work, that's the exact opposite of giving in to authoritarianism. Acting like an authoritarian state to counter authoritarianism would be moronic.
Playing this out as "Erdogan has won against Merkel" seems really ignorant to me. Why are you doing that, don't you believe in the rule of law?
Because Erogadan is not a German Citizen.
>don't you believe in the rule of law
There is no international rule of law between Turkey and Germany.
You don't need to be a German citizen to be protected by German law (why should you?).
Indeed I didn't realise initially but the German statute includes a law particularly protecting foreign heads of state.
Process matters. A lot.
Now where the government (legislative) has every right to have a say is that this law needs to be removed.
Within an established system.
Germany and Turkey have no common justice system or even a common foundation for the rule of law. Erogadan is playing outside the scope of any justice system, and so should Germany, because it holds all the power here.
After all. The only rules to The Great Game, are that those who follow the rules, lose.
And what I find so beautiful is that it manages to send both the "rule of law" message and the fk you message at the same time.
So they both share a common justice system, and a common foundation for the rule of law. Obviously, there are limits to this, but it's a mistake to dismiss these things out of hand.
This is now out of the hands of government and will be settled in court. In an independent court that the government will not mess with.
That she emphasized the freedom of speech, freedeom of press and freedom of art several times in her speech is just the cherry on the cake.
Well, considering how dictatorial, under-the-table-ish and badly the EU handled the Euro-crisis, I'm not sure that's really true beyond this particular case...
I don't think that this is "saving the comedian", since the law should be eliminated as of 2018. It's likely that judgement (at least at the first level of jurisdiction in case of objection/revision against) will be made sooner. Further who knows what proposed legislation come up since then, or like the Germans say: Since then, a lot of water will flow down the Rhine.
Currently Germany isn't known for its great process against odd repressive laws, I would say it's even the contrary developement when it comes to state authorities, which leaves me sceptic about that.
Basically it's a holdover from the monarchy, and there are similar rules across much of europe for the same reason. It seems interesting that these laws hang on despite the massive changes to borders and governments in europe since the 1800's
But it’s also just an ancient law …
How ancient can these laws be? The BRD is not that old.
Courts do not prosecute people. They decide cases. The government (that is, the elected part) prosecutes people, at least in many cases. The prosecutor is either appointed by an elected official or elected directly. Therefore it is up to an elected official, either directly or indirectly, to decide whether or not to prosecute a case.
Also, the case will not necessarily get dismissed. Insults will still be a crime (if one with a lesser punishment), even after the law is abolished.
But I’m happy that abolishing this law is at least on the agenda.
Are you seriously suggesting that throwing one of your own citizens under the bus for mean words affecting the fragile feelings of a foreign Head of State is proper and correct diplomacy?
(2) Ist die Tat öffentlich, in einer Versammlung oder durch Verbreiten von Schriften (§ 11 Abs. 3) begangen, so ist § 200 anzuwenden. Den Antrag auf Bekanntgabe der Verurteilung kann auch der Staatsanwalt stellen.
Politics are regional. Living in Los Angeles with a highly diverse population with both legal/illegal immigration and free speech as its the raison d'etre would be unacceptable to Germany and maybe that is a good thing?
This is a locale that produced entertainment acts like NWA, Snoop Dog The Doors & Sarah Silverman. (Also some really great looking mixed race actors as well) I don't think Germany could do that due to its Homogeny. A region has a choice: Homogeny which produces affluence and social cohesion or diversity that produces great food, music, art, and technology.
But even apart from that the prosecution is part of the ministries of justice and answers to them (usually to the state level). However, it's really, really rare that they actually interfere with prosecution. I think it's similar in many countries. This case is not one of those by the way, as said above.
Usually it's political suicide for politicians to interfere with prosecutors, there have been spectacular examples of that.
Unfortunately, we've quite recently had a counterexample where the justice minister got under lots of pressure from a shitstorm-moved public and a violent felon walked free (Gustl Mollath).
To the contrary: the court convicted him, but for procedural reasons he walked free.
The lower court's acquittal was appealed (revision) by the defense and the prosecution. Since the prosecution had appealed the sentence could have been more severe (more than "nothing").
The justice minister then ordered the prosecution to withdraw its appeal. That means that the sentence could not be more severe.
The higher court subsequently convicted and sentenced to "nothing", because of this procedural rule.
As an aside: he is a violent felon. He has been legally bindingly convicted of having thrown his wife out of a car while driving. He has been convicted of domestic violence.
As the prosecutor said in his plea: his claim that the well-documented bite marks on her neck were a result of falling out of the car is outlandish.
The Landgericht Regensburg discharged him on factual, not procedural, grounds with the verdict from 14.08.2014. Only in the case from 12.8.2001 (the one with bite marks) did they discharge him on legal grounds as they ruled that he didn't fulfill the obligations of § 20 StGB (i.e. he was not convicted because he was might have been insane – which still means not guilty and not a felon, that's how the justice system works).
Could you please cite which legally binding convictions there still are against him? As far as I know they all have been part of the above renewal case and a short search in a legal database seems to confirm that. I also have never heard of an order to withdraw an appeal nor can I find anything. She did order to renew the case, yes, but that is not the same.
§185 stays in and Erdogan can (and actually is) still sue Böhmermann using that one.
germany has a separation of powers and merkel can't dictate any laws.
All true. But it doesn't stop the oligarchy  in your country to still keep it in the NATO, have (at least one) military base there (Incirlik Air Base), not say/do anything about the way it treats minorities, journalists ...its own citizens.
(remember the US slogan: "We bring freedom, democracy and human rights to the world")
They'be become a rogue nation more than any other.
2015-11-23: US air force general and the second-highest ranking military officer visits Turkey "to discuss the Russian airstrikes on Turkmen-populated areas in Syria.
2015-11-24: Two turkish jets shoot down one russian over the Turkmen region in Syria and Turkmen kill the pilot. Putin said that the russian military has communicated flying routes to the US military.
Their leadership needs a diplomatic spanking.
Plus there is: https://twitter.com/trpresidency.
The trpresidency account has blocked me for tweeting the picture of Erdogan next to Smeagol, haven't been blocked from RT_Erdogan...yet.
"Mutti" is trying to deflect the blame again: In this very special case (§103 StGB), the law mandates that the government authorize the prosecution. Otherwise there is no case.
Anyone know where the section is on the government required authorization of prosecution?
Offenses under this chapter shall only be prosecuted if the Federal Republic of Germany maintains diplomatic relations with the other state, reciprocity is guaranteed and was also guaranteed at the time of the offense, a request to prosecute by the foreign government exists, and the Federal Government authorizes the prosecution.
If you can't insult political leaders, you don't have free speech. End of story. Political speech is the most important form of speech to protect.
And even if you couldn't, insults on that level are absolutely unnecessary to discuss any issue.
Then why is there a prosecution moving forward for insulting a political leader and a specific law which applies only to insulting foreign political leaders?
It is expected that there will be no punishment in this case.
In Austria you be jailed for 6 months for ridiculing religious customs or leaders, or flags and symbols of foreign states...
Whosoever insults [a foreign head of state], or, [with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity], or [a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory] shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years.
But a symbolic fine is really unlikely. Much more important than the amount fined is the label "guilty" or "not guilty". I can't see how they would rule him guilty but resort to a token fine in that case. If the court thinks the law should not be applied, they will find a reason not to.
I just quoted the entire provision (where the wording and length is absolutely standard for a German criminal law). There are no boxes which when ticked would result in an automatic conviction. The courts have a great degree of freedom to decide their cases. (Usually they base it on older decisions by higher courts which usually spell out what criteria should be used to interpret a law.)
I'm very interested in how this plays out.
She's not deflecting blame. For one thing, it's not Merkel that made the decision. Secondly, the blame would have been less if the government stopped the complaint. That would have been the easy way out.
This is really terrible news for Germany and the EU as a whole. Merkel has said "this is a bad law and we have the option to ignore it, but we will prosecute anyway". Who rules Germany now, exactly? Is it Merkel or is it Erdogan? And if it's the latter, which is what it looks like, then how much influence does Turkey have over the EU as a whole?
Nor is Erdogan calling any shots, because he is only using an option that German law provides to any organ of a foreign state. To any Human Being actually, considering that there are cases of personal defamation pending.
Nothing special about Erdogan, except that he is exerting that option rather spectacularly to his own detriment.
The sad thing about this issue is that obviously a lot of people don't bother to appreciate the complexity of the issue and want to frame it as a question of who is in power and who is calling the shots.
If you don't want to be ruled by dictators, start recognizing law and institutions at work, rather than attributing everything that happens to the power and will of singular persons.
My eyes keep glazing over... can you reword without the triple negative?
So yes, the government had to give explicit permission to prosecute in this particular case.
The gov't could have honored the law by just saying "we don't consent to the prosecution", they did not however, and Merkel as the head of the government has the responsibility for that decision; whether you agree with the decision to prosecute or not.
PS: German media is reporting that according to Steinmeier, German Foreign Secretary, the cabinet had a tie when voting on prosecution or not, with Merkel's vote breaking the tie in favor or prosecution.
Another important consideration is that exercising the right to deny the prosecution would have taken away power from the judiciary. Germany is in the process of making this point to Poland and Hungary, where the independence of the judiciary is under attack. A denial would have weakened that argument a lot.
Of course the gov't has a moral and also legal obligation to consider the request, consideration does not imply they have to follow the request.
If the government made a new law requiring gov't consent before prosecutions or if they tried to hinder a prosecution under any existing law not having such a "government must consent" paragraph, then you might have a point; here however, you do not.
Note that this is not the same as hate speech which will lend you in court and get you fined or worst.
If they're saying, "This is a polite, non-official notice that if you keep saying stuff like this, you are going to face unofficial heat from the government, in ways that you can't prove is because you're saying this stuff", well, that's not appropriate for a free society.
Lars Vilks is another Swedish artist. He is not being hunted by a police force, but by private, less rulebound actors. He can no longer live on a fixed address, and travels under constant police protection.
What a glorious time for free speech.
Insults were always a crime in Germany. They are even more or less explicitly mentioned (“honor” is mentioned) as an exception in the freedom of speech article in the German constitution. (One interesting tidbit: there are no such explicit exceptions for art, i.e. art is allowed to do everything. Of course that is not totally true. As soon as two or more basic rights collide judges have to decide which one wins out and how different basic rights have to be balanced. Law is not an algorithm, it is a living, breathing thing with a certain spirit, filled with life by the people living with it, applying it and interpreting it.)
This particular law merely names a higher punishment – and requires the German government to allow prosecution.
If you think you have been insulted you always have to make a criminal complaint. Without a criminal complaint there is no prosecution (unlike with, say, a robbery, where it doesn’t matter whether you make a criminal complaint, the robbers can be convicted either way). That applies to everyone.
Erdogan actually made a criminal complaint (one that doesn’t require the permission of the German government to go ahead), too, as well as this criminal complaint that does require the government’s permission. So there would have been some prosecution and maybe even a court case either way the German government had decided, just with a potentially slightly lower punishment.
I think it will be interesting to see how this case turns out … but I would be wary of identifying any trend. In general I would argue that the German constitutional court has again and again emphasized the importance of freedom of speech as a constituent element of democracies and has also, over the years, given the right wider and wider latitude and more teeth, meaning not everything that might, at first blush, sound like an insult actually is an insult. But the exception exists, sure, and always has.
There is also no doubt that what the comic said is insulting content. It was explicitly named as such and that’s pretty uncontroversial … the constitutionally much more interesting question is whether the context in which the insults were packaged is enough to restore the freedom of speech. I personally think it should be and I hope that judges will decide that way … but it’s a honestly tricky question.
I mean, one thing is for sure: Simple disclaimers (“Saying the following would be illegal: …”) are not enough. The law is not stupid … but we are not talking about simple disclaimers here.
This is just unjustifiable. Even worse, it's being done because Merkel needs favors from Erdogan. Imagine if George W. Bush had demanded that Merkel bring prosecutions for some of the more outrageous things people said about him. Would you have been okay with that?
Not even the indemnity afforded to members of parliament speaking parliament covers libellous insults - it's the only exception.
So what you're saying is: "It's okay to throw someone in jail for mocking a politician if it benefits you politically."
It is pretty impressive though, that you're able to make it sound so nice and harmless.
Hopefully one day the laws will be coded in PROLOG and open sourced. Then we can use computers to reason and decide about it.
That's things getting worse.
Pardons are a vital check on the justice system. I don't know all the details, and this might be a lower level judgment. But, if she had the power and said no, then that's a terrible sign regardless of the words out of her mouth. On the other hand if the government gave up the right to pardon that's also terrible.
If these people are convicted, then it might be reasonable for her to pardon them after the facts have been documented by the court.
In this case it is not about a pardon, but about an archaic law that requires consent from the government before prosecution, allowing the government to prevent someone from having their case heard based on political considerations.
Remember, right now today he is being penalized for saying something people in power did not want said. That's a bad thing.
Merkel even specifically said that they want to abolish that law. They didn't decide based on the merit of the claim but only based on principle (no matter what that law says, independent courts should decide).
Wait no, that's not true at all. Being forced to go to a trial is being deprived of your liberty while your there. Even just waiting for that day is highly stressful.
He would have been prosecuted anyway. If the government hadn't greenlight it under that law it would run under the label of the general insult law.
In practice this decision shouldn't have changed anything for him. It just sent a message: "In Germany the courts are independent. We won't interfere, even if we could."
This is someone not taking a stand for justice when they could. They had the power and option to make the right choice and they chose the politically expedient one.
This is worse than "I was only following orders" this is actively choosing the wrong thing.
There's even an argument that in this instance the less just course of action might be a powerful politician stepping into thwart the usual judicial process and signalling to the wider world that Western democrats, like Turkish autocrats, don't see anything wrong with subordinating the judiciary to executive fiat when a particular case allows them to step in.
The judiciary's role is to follow the rules as written, this is balanced by those who write the laws on one end, and those who can issue pardons when things go off the rails. Independent Judiciary means their outcomes are not changed behind the scenes, a public pardon has nothing to do with this.
I've suggested that it's rather hard to sustain the argument that a prosecutor and jury trial represents a "less just" way of deciding something than a political leader intervening to tell the judiciary she will be making the decision for them in this instance. Especially when reporting suggests that rescinding the bill via the accepted constitutional process for legislative change as she's said she intended to do would make it impossible for a sentence to be carried out in the unlikely event of a court deciding to convict anyway.
Similarly, I don't think it's possible to argue that the decision of whether to prosecute or not resting with the head of state is compatible with the concept of an independent judiciary (whether the outcome is changed behind the scenes or publicly is a tangential point)
To be clear, she's declined to use a special executive privilege written into this archaic bad law to give the state power to intervene if it's in their foreign policy interest, not a pardoning system introduced as a constitutional check and balance. I'm sure the German legal system has been designed with plenty of actual checks and balances.
Nobody gets a free pass for failing to support a basic human right. People should be demanding she steps down right fucking now.
Ironically, he's apparently far more likely to be successfully prosecuted under Germany's regular defamation law which Merkel has no power to intervene in whatsoever. Although judging from the tone of your previous comments I suppose you'll still find a way for that to be Merkel's fault...
The only reasons we are debating this at all is that nobody likes Erdogan and that the insult was offered by a comedian.
We're debating it because most of HN is in the United States, where people regularly go around saying far worse things about our President than calling him a "goat."
It's satire, about a political public figure. It's hard to find speech much more protected than that.
Europe does not have free speech. In myriad ways there are restrictions on speech, from prosecution of satire to the reprehensible "Right to be Forgotten" law.
Nonsense. Of course it does. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_10_of_the_European_Con... . Eg see  for a (successful) ECtHR case in France under A.10 relating to a similar no-insulting-heads-of-state law.
My guess it the only reason this one is still on the books is that it's almost never enforced (though IANAL). The ECHR doesn't examine laws proactively - someone has to bring a case - but then, that's the same as the US (and in the US it's apparently not unusual for legislators to attempt to pass laws they know will be overturned once actually used...)
> In myriad ways there are restrictions on speech
Sure. Same as in the US: . The restrictions in that article seem broadly in the same areas as those in A.10(2).
I'm not denying that US free speech protection is stronger than Europe - lines are drawn in a slightly different place: the US has stronger protection of free speech, Europe has stronger protection of privacy, among other things. But this is a long way from "Europe does not have free speech".
Well, to be pedantic, courts would probably apply more protections to direct political criticism than to mockery of a political figure him/herself. That is, you would receive more protection for: a) "This is a stupid policy that will harm public welfare" than b) "politician X looks like a monkey". But it's close.
O wouldn't put that in the same category as speech restrictions....
I am not a lawyer though, so take my post for what it's worth.
First, there is the case where we're talking (writing actually) about a person who is not reasonably considered a public figure--just a normal person. In this case the person would have to demonstrate that we wrote something about them that:
1. Caused actual damages to them (e.g. Caused them to lose a job, have their house burned down by an angry mob, etc.)
2. Was false
Writing that Joe Bob embezzles money while high on cocaine might result in him getting fired. Perfectly fine thing to write, assuming it's true. But libel if false and it loses him his job.
Justin Beiber and President Obama, on the other hand have both reasonably sought the limelight and would be considered public figures. For them to win a libel case, they would need to pass another hurdle and prove that what we wrote had malicious intent (i.e. that we expected damages to result from our false, damaging written statements).
To prove the third part is almost impossible. Public figures pretty much never expect to win libel cases.
At least, this is what I learned as an undergrad in a journalism law course.
But, the statement does need to be such that that a reasonable person might believe it to be true.
Edit this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_figure
I've seen people call Obama a monkey, the anti christ, dumbass, marxist, etc.
That was on national TV
Freedom of speech is core to the American political system, tbh I am quite surprised and disappointed to find out Germany is so regressive on speech.
For Merkel to personally get involved and say that the guy should be prosecuted is a hit against freedom of speech in germany, regardless of the outcome.
In this case Merkel was dealt bad cards: A law that should have been removed a long time ago puts the issue on her table. If she had opted to deny consent, it would have been a blow to the principles of separation of powers, the very thing many European governments - including Germany - are criticizing Poland, Hungary and Turkey for violating right now. It would have made her a total hypocrite.
So she has opted to stay out, and taken the opportunity to raise the issue of removing this paragraph.
I wouldnt have come to the same conclusion as Merkel.
And that's exactly as it should be. Free citizens of a free nation have every right to insult anyone they wish.
Anyway - Cameron was accused seriously to have received oral sex by the vehicle of a roasted pig just a month ago - and he did the unthinkable - shrug it off. No one was prosecuted in Germany. and i am sure their tabloids reported it.
It of course helped that most people - including those of us who very much would have loved for it to blow up much more than it did - realised that Lord Ashcroft very much had an axe to grind.
Cameron was "insulted" by a whole slew of people that way, considering all the attention the topic got. Erdogan has a single target to go after, legally speaking. And the applicable laws in both cases differ substantially, too.
The deliberation between these freedoms is a matter of the political culture of a society. In Germany the opinion is shifting, and maybe not for the better.
Böhmermanns reaction was... and I am paraphrasing here: "What? You think this was insulting??? Mr. Erdogan, I can show you what an insult looks like, and german courts would regard it as insult:" (... and on this point in the show comes the poem...)
So... was the poem insulting, disgraceful and racist? Sure, in my oponion yes. But you can't look at it without the context, the whole show was trying to make.
It is like comparing Trevor Noah stating on the Daily Show that "of course we all know, Mexicans are racists and we need a wall" vs Trump saying the same thing. The first is comparable to what Böhmerman did (attacking racists, while simultaneously attacking Erdogan on free speech issues re:extra-3), while the later is actually racist slurs. Context matters.
Some might find this humor tasteless and insulting, but in my opinion this is covered by freedom of speech.
So are laws against blasphemy, witchcraft, etc. That doesn't make them at all legitimate in the modern world.
If they did, probably every civil rights movement in the West could have been made illegal simply by the government declaring that the speech is not valuable. Fuck that.
Then why cite the age of a law like them as evidence of the law's legitimacy?
> Though I still see no value in allowing people to call other people "goat f*rs" for sake of a political argument.
That places you in the very dangerous position of deciding what's a valid political argument and what isn't.
It hasn't been a problem, because normally, nations which have the respect of the German state to require such prosecution know better than to use it. On the other hand, accusing foreign heads of states of fucking goat on public television isn't exactly something people expected.
Erdogan has ensured that the oppression of his media will stay in European media for months.
>the screws are being tightened on free expression over much of Western Europe these days, not least as concerns potential offense towards a certain easily offended religion
> bayesian_horse: Actually, laws against defamation and insults are very old.
> ceejayoz: So are other laws. So what? [paraphrased]
> ceejayoz 3 hours ago | [-]
> So are laws against blasphemy, witchcraft, etc.
~"That's not an insult, this is an insult: &@##$ @#$@#$."
He said, "&@##$ @#$@#$"! Burn him!
When in context the actual insult was said before then.
In France insults are usually allowed when it's a parodic context (such as in a play, a TV show, a movie or the like).
Freedom of speech doesn't mean other people are not allowed to criticize you. And if your opinions are intentionally offending other people, you just have to expect some intentional offenses in return...
Of course, intentional insults devoid of content are merely https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem, but it is important to recognize the difference.
Discussing something rationally requires having a thick skin.
Screws are not being tightened on freedom of expression on any real sense. The German law in question has nothing to do with religious insult, and ECHR Article 10 explicitly protects freedom of expression.
More importantly, it is not the place of the Chancellor to decide whether or not the law has been violated. That's the last thing that we want.
The original Bloomberg article has Merkel saying she had no intention of interfering in a prosecution brought under an ancient law about insulting heads of states, but actually intended to scrap the law so it couldn't be used in future. Which apart from suggesting that German speech laws are getting more permissive rather than less is pretty much an endorsement of the view that Erdogan - and presumably other Muslim heads of state - is a perfectly legitimate target for satire
mind you, you also get in a lot of trouble for promoting nazism ("wiederbetätigung"). see here, austria, 5 convictions for up to 22 months: http://diepresse.com/home/panorama/oesterreich/4947913/Funf-...
For science, of course.
 Or semi-clueful child for that matter.
EDIT: I should say, my point is: Given that the actual number of people who fuck goats is miniscule, but probably not zero, the "accusation" is a priori so laughable as to NOT constitute defamation in any reasonable sense. (Hopefully the courts will agree, but it's ridiculous that the prosecution is even allowed to go forward.)
How is it different from a generic insult?
Is it akin to calling black people monkeys? (As obviously ludicrous as that is.)
(Btw, according to QI the statistic for, uhm, "having sex" with a chicken in Iowa/USA was actually something like 1 in 6.)
From what I can tell, he's not being charged under defamation law, so I don't think that's very relevant. It's an old law that criminalizes "insulting a foreign head of state".
Let's not mince words here: it's fucking goats (or Ziegen ficken originally).
Just like you wouldn't be offended by racial slurs not referring to your particular race.
> Just like you wouldn't be offended by racial slurs not referring to your particular race.
Personally, I'm not offended by racial slurs referring to my race, but then I was born lucky (white, male), so I probably don't appreciate what it's like to be a minority...
... but is Erdogan from a minority?
(I must confess I know very little about Erdogan, but most of the media I read portray him as just a few inches short of a megalomaniacal dictator.)
EDIT: I find it interesting to contemplate Erdogan's reaction to this compared to the (hypothetical) way, say, Obama would have reacted to this. (Not a US-ian, just for the record.)
Most people think it's dumb, but don't misrepresent it.
1. We are a country of laws, not of autocratic presidents. Therefore it is the task of the judiciary, and only the judiciary to decide this matter. I have full confidence in the judiciary to do so and to come to the right conclusion.
2. And I have a pretty clear idea of what the right conclusion is: what the Turkish president demands is ridiculous. In fact, the fact that we have a law that allows him to demand this is ridiculous. We are therefore getting rid of the law.
Not allowing the prosecution to go ahead would have sent the message that autocratic decisions by the executive in judicial matters is the correct way to proceed, regardless of which way the decision goes. It also wouldn't have sent as clear a message as to the ridiculousness of the request as getting rid of the law.
Again, not usually a fan, but this is damn good.
As many others have pointed out, the relevant law  explicitly requires an autocratic decision by the executive before prosecution can start.
So in this situation, you are a country of laws being mediated by an autocratic president. It is the task of an autocratic president, and possibly the judiciary, to decide this matter.
Exactly. This is why the law is an anachronism and needs to be repealed. And why using it to get the "right" outcome would be inconsistent with the principle of rule of law that says it needs to be gotten rid of.
IMHO that's all that needs to be said. This is exactly how it should be. This is a problem for which laws were written and this is something the judges should eventually have the power to decide upon.
If we don't like their decision, it's up to us to change the laws.
Civil disobedience is also not correct. Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey laws, not the refusal to uphold them. People participating in civil disobedience do it with the understanding that they can (and should) be prosecuted for such. They do so to act as martyrs.
The law can be very wrong sometimes, and it's the responsibility of an ethical human being to disobey such laws, whether by non-application or nullification, until such time as those laws are corrected.
My response would be that, in such cases, there exist two sets of conflicting laws. The national law, which was not being broken, and the supra-national law regarding human rights and war crimes, which was. So that is actually an example of rule of law being upheld, just not national law.
The bottom line is, you need to be really, really careful when you start arguing for "ethics" and "morality" as a basis for execution of law. For instance, to make a concrete example: It could be argued that based on the ethics and morality of the Nazis, that the mass murders committed under the Holocaust were in fact them morally disobeying those supra-national human rights laws. Who are you to say that the Nazi morality is wrong? You can't point to the agreed-upon supra-national human rights laws, because you are in fact arguing that law should be violated based on morality!
In fact, one of the ways to view law is as an encoding of the morality of the society it covers. Sometimes laws, being fixed entities, and society, being ever changing, drift apart over time. Same as software drifts from the requirements of business if not kept up to date. It usually takes an example like this German one to point out the absurdity, and if the law really is no longer part of the society's morality, becomes fairly easy for lawmakers to fix. (As a reminder, this law being invoked is very old -- from when Germany was a monarchy and insulting dictator kings was morally a very serious crime!)
This is a problem.
You're promoting anarchy which isn't a workable system AFAICT - the gaoler believes it's wrong not to accept a bribe because that will mean his child goes hungry, so he should release the criminal despite the democratically elected officials having openly created a law that has not been opposed by the people (eg in massed protest)?
The alternative is a rejection of conservatism in the worst way: the state can change too quickly for society to have a proper discourse on whether we made a mistake or not. "Revolution" is a relatively positive word these days and it's easy to forget that actual lives are often lost when mob mentality takes precedent over rule of law.
That said, my take is that if the law is unjust, I prefer the law to be overturned rather than not prosecute on the law or rely on disobedience.
In this case prosecuting may create enough bad will that people will find it unpalatable and work to have it overturned to the dismay of foreign "dignitaries".