(11j) Turkish president demands a punishment for comedian who insulted him
- The Turkish president feels insulted and wants to go to court. This is important in a democracy. Indeed, if someone doesn’t feel insulted the issue can be ignored but people should be able to defend themselves. And sometimes, even when a person doesn’t feel insulted, someone else may still go to court to stop someone insulting someone else. To me, people who demand the absolute right for free speech should also accept the right of other people to feel insulted and go to court to defend themselves while the person who is accused of making the insults should accept the consequences when society judges that what was said was unacceptable. The court should decide.
- An important reason why the president should be able to go to court is because the comedian claims the president watches child pornography. This is a very serious accusation that can’t be made lightly, certainly not now when it emerged that over the past decades many children were abused by a number of people working in high positions at some worldwide well-known and trusted institutions such as the BBC, the Roman Catholic Church and many other institutions. Instead of being an example, those people used their high position to protect themselves from being prosecuted. Still, it can also be used by people to break the career of opponents, even when they are innocent such as in the past when openly gay people couldn’t be teachers as it was believed they would abuse children. And thus, even in our Western society with its free speech, people will be angry when they are accused of paedophilia without proof and probably go to court to clean their name while even when declared not-guilty, often people will continue to doubt their innocence.
- Another point is that President Erdogan isn’t really a friend of journalists and he even closed some news agencies to silence criticism. And thus media people should not further alienate the president from the media by insulting him so distrust further increases but should be correct – and this can include criticising Turkey when there is evidence. Only when certain claims can be proven should they be made while trying to make the president even more angry may worsen the situation for Turkish journalists.
- As the comedian indicated before the show, he knew a law exists that prohibits that foreign politicians are insulted and that he may go too far in insulting President Erdogan, as if he wanted to appear before court. And thus, as the Turkish president feels insulted and wants to complain, PM Merkel could only agree to refer the comedian to a court where judges can decide whether the comedian should be punished or not because everyone who feels insulted should be able to defend themselves in court.
- The insults may also be hidden Islamophobia and racism. I agree people can criticise extremists from all religion but that doesn’t mean mentioning what can be expected as deeply insulting in some cultures such as having sex with goats (reference to sex with the devil?).
To the person targeted, it can feel like the perpetrator is everywhere: at home, in the office, on the bus, in the street.
Recent research by the Pew Centre found that not only had 40% of adults experienced harassment online but 73% had witnessed others being harassed. This must surely have a chilling effect, silencing people who might otherwise contribute to public debates – particularly women, LGBT people and people from racial or religious minorities, who see others like themselves being racially and sexually abused.