It´s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye
I assume that almost everybody has this one friend to whom one can talk in an ironic or even sarcastic way — up to a certain point when your partner in conversation misperceives your joke and takes it down the wrong pipe. The chat that initially started humorously turns into a serious discussion about personal and conventional borders.
Something similar has happened in Germany — not in private but in public sphere. Jan Böhmermann, a German presenter and satirist, employed at the public-sector broadcaster ZDF, and his poem of slander about Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan, president of Turkey, attract attention and cause ripples.
According to the Oxford Dictionary satire is defined as „the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people´s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics.“ With reference to this definition, Böhmermann is a textbook example of a satirist. Admittedly, the presenter oversteps the bounds of good taste, uses abusive words that strike below the belt and the poem in whole has to be classified in a grey area, but has he exceeded a tolerable limit as well?
If we ask Erdoǧan, the answer will be „yes, he has“. Due to a defamation of his person, the Turkish President reacted by charging Böhmermann which has various consequences in his job affairs that directly effect his private life as well. Is an accusation the right way to solve this matter? Why does the people blame him alone for being guilty, although the editorial staff must have had agreed upon the segment?
Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany says: „Jeder hat das Recht, seine Meinung in Wort, Schrift und Bild frei zu äußern und zu verbreiten. […] Die Pressefreiheit und die Freiheit der Berichterstattung durch Rundfunk und Film werden gewährleistet. Eine Zensur findet nicht statt.“. Incomprehensibly, Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany, is the one who permits investigations in this issue, even though she stood up and claimed „Je suis Charlie“ in a satiric matter in France in January 2015. Maybe it is time to reconsider several political decisions or to introduce censorship. When freedom of expression is politically unintended, we could go back to an emperorship or a constitutional monarchy instead.