German chancellor allows prosecution of satirist who insulted Turkish president

[Read the post]

1 Like

Down with tyrants. Down with Erdogan, down with Putin, down with Trump even though he doesn’t hold any office. Down with laws that protect the powerful against the people.


In a Western democracy, there’s a law against insulting a head of state?!? I’d like to see Erdogan try that lawsuit in the US. It would be laughed out of court, most likely.


Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany’s Angela Merkel have something in common now, both are assholes.


This might be clever on Merkel’s part. A trial would be further embarrassing to Erdogan by keeping the poem in the public eye. And the law could get struck down. Heck, lots of comedians would love a short sentence for this kind of publicity. You could end up with 10 times as many people ridiculing Erdogan just to get in the news.

It will all hinge on how the prosecutors and judges act.


The law is indeed over 100 years old and comes from the times of royalty (which explains why the US probably does not have such a law… ). And now, finally, it’s due to be removed until 2018. Nobody thought about it for the last 30 years, so nobody had the idea of removing it.

1 Like

I thought the photo was supposed to be her nose growing like Pinocchio.


Sounds like she’s doing the right thing.
If the law is current, it would be unconstitutional for her to be intercepting it. If the law is bullshit, it should be taken off the books, but that’s a separate process.
The Comedian has deliberately and provocatively broken the law - specifically in order to illustrate the problem with it, and like in any civil protest, is prepared to risk the official punishment in order to highlight it and be a catalyst for change.

He should be convicted, the law reviewed and overturned, and then retroactively pardoned.
“Refusing to prosecute” would be a do-nothing avoidance of the problem.


I think you’ll find that large parts of the Western world show a shocking disregard for the Anglo way of doing things.


When the story broke about the Turkish president prosecuting those who insult him, I joked about being extradited to Turkey thinking there’s no way a western country would seriously consider it. I’m not laughing now. Heartless fascism is running a little too thick these days.


I hear what you’re saying, but the legal (even constitutional) thing is not always necessarily the right thing. I don’t say that lightly, I regard constitutions (written or implicit) as essential to the weal of any republic.

Neville Chamberlain tried a policy of appeasement about 80 years ago, of Germany ironically. It did not work out well for his country.

1 Like

No, it wouldn’t. That’s the point of StGB §104a. It is by design a political decision.

1 Like

Pretty common. Even Norway has such a law, and the Norwegian royal family is so twee that they live in the middle of a park and the princess talks to angels.

1 Like

Sure. Not talking about moral rightness here, just about doing the job right. A policeman, a judge, and a politician do the right thing by doing the job given to them : equitably enforcing the laws as they stand. If they do that with discretion, compassion and sanity, well, I actually like to consider that also doing the job right.

It is also the duty of a policeman, judge or politician to attempt to influence the change of those laws where appropriate. But they should do that with another hat on, not by just flouting the law on an ad-hoc perp-by-perp basis or depending on the celebrity of the case.

If you feel comfortable throwing a Godwin into this discussion (!?), I’ll raise an equally inappropriate and hyperbolic comparison with Rosa Parks - breaking the law, being prepared to suffer the consequences in order to make the point and bring about change. Shrugging that incident off by refusing to make a big deal about it would not have triggered the reform that was needed.

Erdrogen is really inviting much worse commentary.

But what does one expect from someone suspected of consorting with goats?


Up to a point. But no official in a position of power should wield it without a moral compass. You make a good point about facing the consequences. But that goes for those in power as well. If the moral thing to do is to refuse to enforce an unjust law, then losing that position of power should not deter them from doing what’s just. Edward Snowden is a prime example of this, IMHO. He broke the law to reveal far more massive and harmful lawbreaking by government agencies. We should not want our watchmen to be robots.

Okay, I did (unintentionally) Godwin the discussion. I certainly don’t mean the German chancellor and the Turkish president are the same as Chamberlain and Hitler in degree. But I do believe there’s a real historical parallel in kind, and I won’t shy away from drawing that comparison simply because Nazism and Hitler are erroneously seen as nuclear debate options with no possible nuance in comparing anything to them.

Actually, I don’t think it’s inappropriate. When we compare one thing to another, we can compare aspects without comparing the entirety of what happened. Refusing to see the difference between saying A is B and A is like B in this particular way would be disingenuous and debating in bad faith. So I have no problem with you drawing that parallel and don’t take it as automatically hyperbolic.

That is a really excellent point. But justice still should not be sacrificed to the letter of the law. Returning to my earlier comparison, Snowden should not have to live the rest of his life in exile in order to do his ethical duty in changing our world. Likewise, Parks and Boehmermann should not have to suffer for taking thier stands on the sides of justice. That said, Boehmermann’s punishment is likely to be the least by far of the three, and I’ll pitch in a few bucks towards his fine and legal fees which if enough of us do, will only end up costing him time and peace-of-mind. But we should not simply accept that this is how we have to do things, that people who take a stand against injustice must pay the consequences for unjust laws, even until a pardon that might never come.

1 Like

Keep in mind that the Snowden character in this story here is the comedian - taking the fall, deliberately being the martyr, for the greater good, and knowing it would be unreasonable to expect zero immediate consequences.

Merkel is not Snowden here, and should not be expected to be.

Without getting to biblical about it, the very fact of his suffering or persecution is what makes it news. Without the crucifixion, the redemption is not triggered.

Best-case scenario is he’s convicted on paper as a technicality. Fined 1 euro or whatever the minimum is (which as you rightly say would be instantly crowd funded) and that case becomes a poster child for law reform.
The paper prosecution is a badge of honour, and commuted when it’s time is run.

Worst-case scenario is he gets “let off” because this is a hot potato this time, while the system reserves the right to choose to prosecute any next less-high-profile case at its own discretion, and the law remains on the books.

I don’t think the scenario of a full law change sweeping in between the time of the crime and the court hearing - making what was illegal when charged a non-issue when prosecuted - is a likely (or even correct) thing.

Social rights protesters, pot smokers toking up in front of police, or gay rights activists kissing on court steps (in times and places that was arrestible) were inviting the system to take them down (with compassion) and their arrests were fuel that helped their cause. The cop performing the arrest may even be sympathetic and know they are helping highlight the absurdity. I know that plenty of judges has made sympathetic statements to that effect. This comedian is avowedly playing that exact game…
Let the dance play through to the end.

You are telling the joke wrong. It goes “walk into a bar”.


I thought it was bad here in the States. It is absolutely LUDICROUS to me that this is even happening in a so called “Western Democracy”. Hey, Frau Merkel UP YOURS!!! Hey, Erdogan UP YOURS!!!

1 Like

Was it even illegal in Germany though, or is the Chancellor using her discretion to allow him to be prosecuted under Turkish law. I honestly don’t know.

Perhaps Germany is less Kafkaesque than the US, but compassionate isn’t how I’d ever describe the American justice system.

It’s completely out of my hands. I think a pseudonymous American on the internet might actually be the last person on the planet the German government would heed.