Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where Legal and Illegal Satire Meet

Here in Germany over the past ten days.....we've had this battle brewing with a state-run TV comedian, Turkey's Erdogan, and the Mainz prosecutors.

Jan Bohmermann is the comedian from NEO, a state-run TV network.....who did a piece that laid heavy criticism upon Turkey's supreme leader (Erdogan).  The satire used (because Bohmermann's entire show is satire) is said to have crossed the line and been insulting....which is a big deal on German legal situations.

So, yesterday.....Jan Bohmermann decided to take this all a step further.

He sent an email to the Chancellor's office (actually the Chancellor's chief of staff.....Peter Altmaier....who originates out of Mainz), asked them to define what can be satire and what cannot.

As Bohmermann wrote: "I would like to live in a country where the exploration of the limits of satire allows desired and can be the subject of a civil society debate."

It's put the problem back into the lap of the government because they have never sat down and wrote some complex 10,000 page code on what is satire and what is an insult.

The Mainz prosecutors?  Oh, they may huff-and-puff a bit, but when you drag Bohmermann into a court room and the judge asks about the do you explain your charge with no written definition on paper and approved by the Bundestag.

If Bohmermann wrote a piece that questioned the nature of the Catholic Church and suggested that the Pope was a nut-case....would that be cynical and legal or cynical and illegal?

Dragging Peter Altmaier into the middle of this?  Of all German political figures with common sense and the ability to sit and do a live question and answer forum.....with sharp witted nature, wit and insight.....Altmaier is absolutely the best at forums.  I'm guessing that he's sitting there this weekend....grinning over the question....he knows that the government can't possibly write a law that centers on satire.

I'm guessing the judges in the Mainz region are hoping this doesn't come to their courtroom because Bohmermann might decide to test the judges and see how they can define legal satire and illegal satire, and their patience might be tried on this little 'test'.

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