Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crown Prince Felipe, Kaczynski, just don't get the joke


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?

49 comments:

Harry said...

What did happen to Marek W? I remember writing about him a couple of months ago (and the original googlebombing) but there's been no news since September about him our Glorious Leader and the infamous "prick". Perhaps the authorities are waiting to see if it'll stand up in court....

beatroot said...

:-)))

opamp said...

BR,

First, it must be pointed out that Poland and Spain prosecute lèse majesté. So it doesn't matter if the head of state has a sense of humor or not; insulting him is a criminal offense, period. Dura lex sed lex.

Next, you are misrepresenting the case of Hubert H. (the homeless guy). Mr. H. did insult the President verabally. You can hear what he said in this video from his trial. However, contrary to what you claim, he was acquitted, mainly on the basis that he was drunk when committing the offense.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

So it was his verbal comments that were 'offensive', not his bodily comment?

And why was he acquited? And didn't Kaczynski feel an arse for getting involved in this in the first place?

And don't you feel that is was utterly pathetic that it came to court? And don't you think Poland needs a First Amendment?

opamp said...

So it was his verbal comments that were 'offensive', not his bodily comment?

The fun part is that I don't remember (nor can find with a quick googling) any Polish source which says something about Hubert H. farting! I suspect a translation error on the part of whatever-UK-tabloid-you-pulled-it-from.

And why was he acquited?

Read the article I liked, it's explained in there.

And didn't Kaczynski feel an arse for getting involved in this in the first place?

The President has a legislative initiative. If he was really feeling bad about it, he could propose a law which decriminalizes lese majeste. He did not.

And don't you feel that is was utterly pathetic that it came to court?

Of course. Even the judge gave it as one of the reasons for his acquital.

And don't you think Poland needs a First Amendment?

Yes, but this deserves a larger discussion. At the moment I am just pointing out that you have factual errors in your description of the Hubert H. case.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Goggle search for 'Fart' and 'Kaczynski" 37,000...

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=fart+kaczynski

YouNotSneaky! said...

Strictly speaking 'kutas' is not a vulgar word. It could be that frizzy thing that hangs off the bottom curtain. Stanislaw Lem used to have a lot of fun with that word - you've never read a funnier description of curtains.

beatroot said...

For example: 'A cartoonist drew President Kaczynski's curtains..." perhaps?

mjk said...

weird things going on around here about the royals... "el jueves" has printed quite a lot of stuff of the kind and nothing ever happened (well, there were bomb threats back in the early 80's, but franquism is a legacy you don't dispose of easily). then, all of a sudden the catholic radio broadcasting company (cope) starts asking for the king's abdication. and catalan independentists start burning his portraits everytime they demonstrate. not long ago princess letizia's sister committed suicide. so they jump against "el jueves" the same way the king asked hugo chávez to shout his mouth up a few days ago. not like i am trying to defend them, sure i don't. just pointing out there's more to this than a strong monarchy smashing whatever they don't feel comfortable with.

Harry said...

The fun part is that I don't remember (nor can find with a quick googling) any Polish source which says something about Hubert H. farting! I suspect a translation error on the part of whatever-UK-tabloid-you-pulled-it-from.
http://www.policeoracle.com/news/detail.cfm?id=11519

http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/articles/Folklaw-13-October-2006_z68795.htm

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2019571.html?menu=news.quirkies

Anonymous said...

King Juan Carlos has been a masterful monarch, leading Spain from a 19th century type regime when he assumed the throne into the 21st century, all the while representing all Spaniards and avoiding partisan politics. His brave, measured, calm action in the face of the 1981 coup attempt were not matched until Mayor Giuliani's performance in 2001. I suspect these slaps at the Crown Prince are just the natterings of the little-minded left, disappointed that they cannot pierce the sterling armour of the King, contenting themselves to attacking his son.

beatroot said...

All very interesting, but utterly missing the point...

skinnysneaker said...

I'm just wondering if the Crown Prince's nose is really that big and so shaped and if breathing is all he uses it for...

mjk said...

sorry, beatroot, just meant to bring in some context after agreeing completely with your idea that "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".

beatroot said...

Franco he ain't. But why is he so insecure? He doesn't even have to go through that oh, so boring thing called an election?

mjk said...

sure not. but it's so hard to tell whether he is behind the silly "el jueves" affair... on the one hand, he has always been so subtle in his actions (we all know he had something to do with the failure of the 1981 coup d'état, but the extent of his influence is still a matter of argument). then... which is the english equivalent to the spanish expression "to be more papist than the pope"? monarchies are much more than just the royals. lots of interests and symbolism there. somebody got nervous about the present state of the institution and went too far with a silly cartoon, that's my guess.

beatroot said...

It's interesting to have you here, because I like this comparison to Poland and Spain. Not obvious at first site but there are links - more so than Poland/Ireland, which people always make (wrongly).

But countries have similar sized populations. Both are recovering from dictatorships. Both Catholic.

Spain is quite some way ahead of POland, but I think its history can be instructive to Poland. So hope you keep dropping by every so often.

But tell me: who initiated the prosecution of these journalists? And is their much protest in Spain about it?

sonia said...

3,000 euro fine is nothing. Wake me up when they are sent to Gunantanamo and suffer from waterboarding. I will sign a petition in their support then. But not before.

sonia said...

On the other hand, three years in jail for that prankster is a bit excessive. But he hasn't been convicted yet. I will be worried if he gets more than 3 months in jail.

opamp said...

http://www.policeoracle.com/news/detail.cfm?id=11519

I said, give me a Polish source. If you look at the youtube video I linked, you see that the judge is reading the charges quotes extensively his statements about Kaczynski(s), yet makes no reference to farting. So, he was actually charging with insulting the president verbally.

I still suppose that this is a case that one foreign service mistranslated the story and the rest picked it up.

Oh, BR, and since you think that number of Google hits tells something -- you know that "fart" means "luck" in Polish, don't you?

beatroot said...

Fart, nie Fart...of course I do. There was a TV Porion program with that title I remember...I was fascinated by TV Porion...it was sooo awful!

But yeah, most of those entries do seem to be in Polish.

But maybe there isn't in Polish law a charge that fits "farting against the president'?

beatroot said...

It is half time England - Croatia. All England had to do to qualify for Euro 2008 was to draw with Croatia...at home! And this because Russia somehow got beaten by Israel...

England went in at half time England 0 Croatia 2!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, Poland stroll into the finals next year, with one game to spare.

England are pathetic. I am hereby applying for Polish citizenship.

I have had enough.

beatroot said...

I know you don't care about this - and only a saddo would - but England are now 2 - 2 with Croatia, though two more little miracles....25 minutes left...

geez said...

3-2, Croatia. Think maybe Beckham should have started? He goes in and gets an assist right away. And it seems that English goalie is a bit young and inexperienced, no?

beatroot said...

And then they lost....OK. the beatroot becomes burakowski.

Oliver McCarthy said...

I can't really see why even the most deranged fan of free speech would want to defend this drivel. Besides, given that he's attacking the Royal Family rather than the actual, Socialist government, putting the little twerp in the slammer for a bit would actually be helping free speech and democracy in Spain. (And how many cartoonists are there in Spain attacking genuine assaults on freedom of speech, not to mention religious liberty, such as the upcoming Orwellian Law of Historic Memory? None? I thought as much!)

mjk said...

well, beatroot, i've been around this blog for a while now... i actually followed the results of the last election through you instead of gazeta wyborczka, of which, let's face it, i understand only 7,4%. and i definitely agree: there's a lot poland could learn from spain (especially when it comes to going into the euro). anyway, the whole mess started in the general prosecutor's office (if there were no prior phone calls we don't know of). the magazine was immediately "kidnapped" by the police, but of course it was all over the internet 5 minutes later. as for people protesting... well, no, not really. maybe because they considered it to be more of a clumsy hysteria attack than a real act of censorship. and believe me, "el jueves" couldn't be happier: today's issue states "hemos perdido el juicio", which has the double meaning: "we have been declared guilty", but also "we have lost our minds". and there's a drawing of the king asking his ex son-in-law to shut up the same way as he did with mr. chavez. so 3.000 euros is no big deal (the prosecutor was asking for a 6.000 euros fine, so not even them were reeeaaaally considering it a grave matter) and the advertisement is priceless.

finally, mr. mccarthy, i'm not sure about whether i really get your point, but i can assure you that, regardless of how tasteless they may appear, "el jueves" attacks all political parties, religions and vips the same way. and sometimes they are even funny...

oh, and beatroot, really sorry about england: switching goalkeepers in the head-or-tails game was one mistake too many for mr. mcclaren. dobra noc now...

beatroot said...

I can't really see why even the most deranged fan of free speech would want to defend this drivel.

The word 'fan' there is the give away. You regard defending a human right as some kind of hobbyist obsession. Whether the cartoon is 'drivel' or not is not the point. Drivel is a subjective - human rights are not.

3.000 euros is no big deal.......

it isn't the amount bt the principle of censorship that is important. Luckily we can get around that now via the internet - which we have done. Let the Crown Prince and prosecutors be warned.

Harry said...

I said, give me a Polish source.
You said no such thing.

If you look at the youtube video I linked, you see that the judge is reading the charges quotes extensively his statements about Kaczynski(s), yet makes no reference to farting. So, he was actually charging with insulting the president verbally.
So there probably isn't a law against farting at the president. What a surprise.

I still suppose that this is a case that one foreign service mistranslated the story and the rest picked it up.
I still suppose that this story shows Poland has a long way to go before it can call itself a free country.

geez said...

BR: Drivel is a subjective - human rights are not.

Shouldn't all humans have a right to be treated with basic human respect and dignity?

Do I have a right to shit on somebody?

Do I have a right to degrade a human being?

Do I have a right to torture somebody physically?

Do I have a right to psychologically torture someone?

Just askin'.

beatroot said...

They are human rights.

But nobody has the right NOT TO BE OFFENDED...

geez said...

So the Crown Prince and his wife were being treated with basic human respect and dignity in that cartoon?

And depending on the individual, can't something like that cartoon push him/her over the edge, ie.: psychological torture.

And gays don't have a right to be offended by portrayals of them as being less than human? Or as deranged, mentally ill human beings Or simply in terms of their sexuality / sex acts?

mjk said...

shouldn't we introduce into this argument the concept of public vs. private person? the crown prince and his wife are symbols, both for good and for bad. and i am not defending this particular cartoon, but they definitely should be subjected to different rules than, let's say, the gay community....

beatroot said...

EXactly MJK - the 'public person' thing is important.

But Geez, no individual has the right not to be made fun of. If someone drew an obscene or mocking cartoon of me it would not contravene any human right I have. There simply arn;t human rights that protect us from satire. That includes royalty or any other public person in a public role.

the logical consequence is that we cannot mock our leaders or other powerful people. That way leads to dark ages, matey....

geez said...

Whatever, just saw the England highlights and that goalie really sucked yesterday.

There's a line, methinks between being made fun of and humanly debased.

What's the purpose of humor in its best sense? To make us feel superiour to someone else through debasement and degradation to make us recognize and laugh at our common foibles?

And don't we debase ourselves when we debase others?

Like I said, that goalie really sucked and the (now former) coach was a complete asshole to start him.

geez said...

Meant to throw OR in there as an alternative...

What's the purpose of humor in its best sense? To make us feel superiour to someone else through debasement and degradation OR to make us recognize and laugh at our common foibles?

geez said...

Also what makes a person "public"? When is a person "public"? Does there come a time when a person stops being "public"?

beatroot said...

Whatever, just saw the England highlights and that goalie really sucked yesterday.

Geez, I really don't wanna go there....

Humour is a very important tool to bring our great leaders down to size....ask any Pole.

geez said...

Hehehe. Psychological torture.

beatroot said...

Ha

sk said...

How come the likes of Chrisopher Hitchens and Martin Amis aren't lecturing Spaniards on the virtues of "freedom of speech"?

mjk said...

looks like they are too busy right now discussing the true meaning of "islamophobia" and "racism"...

and geez, what does a person "public"? well, in this very case at least, the fact that they are paid and sustained with public funds. then, their symbolic character. all of which should bring them into some sportmanship when it comes to tollerating the jokes (both bad and good ones) of the public opinion. but of course i am no lawyer or expert in ethics, this is just an opinion.

geez said...

Is a public service worker, paid and sustained with public funds, public in this sense? How high up on the ladder of power does one have to be before s/he is ethically subjected to "jokes" about his and his spouse's "pubics"?

And when does a joke become malign and rob a person of his/her humanity?

mjk said...

monarchy should be top of the ladder. and that's where the crown prince happens to be. i mean, should i be a public service worker, you can draw my 'pubics' as much as you want if i later can go relax to my palace with my maids and servants and cooks and counselors and... oh well, whatever.

look, sure it's not nice for anybody to appear in such a cover in such a state. sure they don't deserve that. i think the cartoonists crossed the border of bad taste. but they did not cross the border of legality. you will say legality is something beyond my opinion. and i will answer that many a time it is subject to interpretation. there's a width to what should or should not be prosecuted. and going after such silly things as a cartoon implies a hysterical need of control, if not a disturbing weakness. then again, what`s the point in trying to make something disappear by actually making it so visible that people get to see it and comment on it in a polish blog? no need to appeal to freedom of speech here. let's just call for some common sense...

geez said...

If the cartoon is in bad taste, it's being published is not at all indicative of common sense which is what you call for...

I dislike this stuff whether it's coming from the left, right or wherever. And I've noticed "the right" is employing such "humor" more and more in the US.

Yea, prosecuting it is as childish as publishing or publicizing it. But then again, there's a lot more worse things than being childish, either way.

Anonymous said...

rosetta stone spanish discount

muebles guipuzcoa said...

It cannot succeed in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.