As time moves on, humans attempt to find better ways of coexisting with each other. And whilst life has unequivocally improved within the past century, mainly thanks to the endeavours of science- man’s enlightenment has already contributed much to it.
For so long during the history of the world it was in the grips of autocratic institutions or individuals- whether they be religious or secular. Fascists decimated mankind during the 20th century, with their extreme interpretation of what it means to be secular. But before then, religion had its fair share, and coupled with nationalism nations built empires- and if it was on the backs of others, that was just the cost of doing business.
The Enlightenment, the recognition that all men are equal, and deserve certain inalienable rights, has led us to the current dispensation of the world. Not everyone has jumped on board, of course- but even in most parts of the world the recognition exists that freedoms like of speech, and association or assembly- and the freedom to believe, or non-belief- should be availabe to all.
Some of those rights though are sacred, or must be sacred, for a truly free society to run. Speech is pretty paramount on that list. It is a right that is so sacred, unless in the worst forms of hate speech, inciting violence and mayhem, or libel- secular authorities would err on the side of a person’s right to say whatever they want.
Turkey’s President is Tayyip Edrogan, who has made it something of a habit of harassing people exercising their inalienable right to free speech. The latest frivolous case being carried out by this guy who supposedly should have important stuff to do- is taking someone to court for comparing him to Gollum from ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Insulting the President in Turkey is a crime- that’s actually in their penal code- and Edrogan in particular has used that clause with glee since coming into office. BBC statistics show “between August 2014 and March 2015, 236 people [were] investigated for ‘insulting the head of state’; 105 indicted; eight formally arrested”.
What kind of weak, pathetic man, keeps harassing his citizens like that? Such a country cannot be called a democracy! When exercising your rights to free speech would land you in jail; that is not a free society.
Obviously we’d all prefer not to be insulted, but nothing in this world comes with only the good parts. If we want to protect speech for everybody, then we have to protect even vile, racist opinions we do not like. Voltaire Evelyn Beatrice Hall said it best when she wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (huh, I always thought that was Voltaire)
Yet in this case, we’re not talking about any direct insults. The President makes a face that looks like Gollum from Lord of the Rings a few times, someone makes a meme of it, and this guy shares it. Next thing he knows, Bilgin Ciftci is before court, charged with insulting the President. The argument is that comparing him to an ‘evil’ character implies he’s evil.
Well if you make a face like Quagmire from Family Guy, by God someone’s going to make a meme out of it. But nowhere would it be suggesting that you are a s*x obsessed maniac who would do anything to score some p**sy. (well, maybe a little)
Ciftci’s lawyers are arguing Gollum is not an evil character, but a conflicted one whose purpose in the literature is to serve a mirror of society’s struggle between good and bad.
“Gollum can’t be defined as evil. The character itself is a war between good and bad. He is basically seen as a victim of society,” said Ciftci’s lawyer, Hicran Danisman, according to Reuters.
“The judge said he was familiar with the movie but he couldn’t decide whether Gollum was good or bad,”
So a panel of experts have been chosen to examine the character, and give their verdict on whether Gollum is evil. They include a cinema specialist, a behavioural scientist and a psychologist
So the country is actually spending resources to conduct this pointless exercise. This is the country that recently shot down a Russian plane, and as one of the foremost countries in The Middle East, bordering Syria- should have more pressing concerns.
This is a man without priorities, more concerned with how he’s perceived than what he is actually doing. Even Mr Dead Goat John Dramani Mahama would not stoop this low.
Tayyip Erdogan is just a bully, except he’s a bully who controls a hugely influential nation and is putting those resources to trivial uses. We should be past things like these- except in the worst theocracies like Saudi Arabia, or under other forms of repressive regimes.
Turkey is supposed to be the shining example in the Middle East, the ones who ‘made’ it. They must do better than this.