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JONATHAN TURLEY

We have been discussing the roll back on free speech rights in Germany and the recent controversy over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to first apologize to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a satirical poem and then approve the prosecution of the comedian is a shocking and chilling disgrace. The crackdown on comedian Jan Boehmermann has shocked many the West. Despite the global condemnations of Merkel and her government in its yielding to Erdogan, there is at least one German judge who shows the same Merkelian disregard for free speech.  A court in Hamburg banned Boehmermann from publicly reading his poem.  Indeed, the court ruled that only six lines of the 24-line poem could be recited.  It is an absurd case of prior restraint and a chilling example of how free speech is under attack in the West.

Source: “Erdogan Does Not Have To Put Up with the Expression of Certain Passages”: Hamburg Judge Enjoins Comedian From Reading Poem About Turkish President

3 thoughts on “Hamburg Judge Enjoins Comedian From Reading Poem About Turkish President (attack on free speech)

  1. This was disturbing on first read, but then I read the actual text of the “poem” and I’m less sure. I’d be surprised if anyone with literary education thought of this as a poem – it’s really nothing but vulgar, extremely vulgar scatological diatribe. I’m now less certain that Merkel was wrong, and I see that there are two reasonable sides to this. I’m against censorship, but can a decent civilization have no limits beyond “Fire!” ?

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    • Point well taken. The line between free speech and censorship can be very fine and hard to discern. I believe all speech should be free unless it is intended to incite violence or cause destruction (i.e. yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater). However, offensive speech – no matter how vile – does not cross that line IMO.

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