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.