Two Spanish cartoonists have been fined 3,000 Euros each for satirically depicting Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia ‘procreating’. The cartoon mocks the policy where Spaniards be paid 2,500 Euro to have a kid. The case will ring (church and alarm) bells with Poles. (Speech bubble on cartoon reads: ‘Do you realise that if you get pregnant, this will be the closest to real work I’ve ever done?)
It’s not just when the Jaroslaw Kaczynski government introduced (minimal) financial incentives to have children to improve the ‘demographic deficit’ in Poland that will be familiar to Poles.
We have also had a head of state overreacting to a little playful criticism and mocking. In September a Polish google bomber felt the petulant anger of President Lech Kaczynski, a man undoubtedly suffering from a humour bypass. Under the headline ‘Willy Jibe’, this is how The Sun (UK), in its usual style, reported the case:
A COMPUTER programmer is facing jail after linking the Polish word for penis to the country's presidential website.
Marek W, 23, created a link that led to the official home page of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski to rank first in the list of results on the Google search engine when “kutas” was typed in.
The word is a vulgar term for a man's private parts [:-)].
Under Polish law the man's full name was not released by police and prosecutors.
The programme did something similar to a practice known as “Google bombing” that links the Web sites of politicians and companies to insulting words or phrases.
Marek has been charged with insulting the president and prosecutors said he could face up to three years in jail if convicted.
Andrzej Holdys, a Polish prosecutor, said: “This is not a matter of freedom of speech.
“If somebody uses a derogatory word to libel the head of state than it’s a clear insult which violates the law.”
But what happened to ‘Mark W’? Can’t find out what the judge did. Or is he languishing in jail somewhere, alone apart from his algorithms?
The president has also got upset in the past about German journalists calling him ‘a potato’ and when an inebriated homeless guy farted in protest against him in front of a police officer.
Kaczynski thought these might be criminal acts, and consulted lawyers. The homeless guy got convicted.
That Spanish royalty and Polish presidents are so insecure in their relationship with the ‘general public’ that they try and censor satire, comment, or just a spotty computer programmer’s little experiment/joke, is worrisome. OK, both the banned cartoon and the google bombing were a little childish – but the only folk afraid of a kid is another kid, or someone with the mentality of a kid.
It’s time to grow up lads. What you so scared of?
And anyway – Spaniard royalty might be able to squash press freedoms in his own country, for a while, but he can’t censor all of us, can he?