Critics of American free speech exceptionalism — which leads to the protection of some truly vile behavior — often cite Europe. Europe, they say, has reasonable limits on "hate speech," but hasn't descended into censorious tyranny. Why can't America accept some reasonable limits on hurtful speech like the Europeans have?
That proposition is questionable, and people can only make it with a straight face because the tyranny at issue is often so very petty. In our most recent example, Germany has banned a comic from reading a poem that's mean to a tyrant.
The tyrant is Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose notorious thin-skinned litigiousness has been a subject here before. The comic is Jan Böhmermann; last year guest poster Colin Cortbus explained how Erdoğan was able to use Germany's disturbing libel laws to attack his satirical speech.
Now a German court has upheld a ban on republishing some of the "most offensive" portions of the poem.
The Hamburg civil court, upholding a ruling from last May, barred Böhmermann from repeating lengthy passages of the poem, objecting to 18 of its 24 lines.It ruled that the claimant "does not have to accept insults or verbal abuse", even if the offensive passages were clearly not intended to be taken seriously.
You see, arrogant Americans? The European view of free speech is all about reason. The German court didn't jail the comic or ban the entire poem. It just banned most of the poem, because even brutal tyrants who jail journalists and suppress political opponents have a right not to be insulted or offended.
No thank you. I choose American exceptionalism.
Here's the poem:
Stupid as fuck, cowardly and uptight,
Is Erdogan, the president,
His gob smells of bad döner,
Even a pig’s fart smells better,
He’s the man who hits girls,
While wearing a rubber mask,
But goat-fucking he likes the best,
And having minorities repressed,
While watching kiddie porn,
And even at night, instead of sleep,
It’s time for fellatio with a hundred sheep,
Yep, Erdogan is definitely
The president with a tiny dick,
Every Turk will tell you all,
The stupid fool has wrinkly balls,
From Ankara to Istanbul,
They all know the man is gay,
Perverted, louse-infested, a zoophile,
Recep Fritzl Priklopil
Head as empty as his balls,
Of every gang-bang party he’s the star,
Till his cock burns when he has a piss,
That’s Recep Erdogan,
The Turkish president
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