Germany Finally Dumps Law That Says It's A Crime To Insult Foreign Leaders

from the but-not-because-of-trump dept

Last year, we wrote about a bizarre situation in Germany, in which the incredibly thin-skinned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had discovered a little-used, mostly forgotten German law, saying that it was illegal to insult a foreign leader, and used it to go after a German comedian. Erdogan, of course, had been filing thousands of lawsuits within Turkey against people who mocked or insulted him, which resulted in people around the globe mocking and making fun of Erdogan. But the fact that he dug up this mostly forgotten law created a bit of a diplomatic mess at the time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was trying to play nice with Erdogan diplomatically, for the sake of helping with the flood of refugees from the Middle East. The weak “compromise” was that Merkel allowed the case to move forward, leading to a sad ruling from a German court, barring the comedian from mocking Erdogan, though a federal investigation was later dropped for “lack of evidence.”

However, part of the compromise suggested at the time was that Merkel would allow that case to move forward, but would work towards getting that law off the books later. And apparently, that time is now. The German cabinet has said that the law is being scrapped.

Justice Minister Heiko Mass said the law is “obsolete and unnecessary,” Deutsche Welle reported. He said the concept “dates back to a long-gone era, it no longer belongs in our criminal law.”

Mass added that foreign heads of state could still pursue libel and defamation cases “but no more or less so than any other person,” according to the broadcaster.

Of course, given that this is happening less than a week after the Trump inauguration and the Merkel/Trump relationship is off to quite a rocky start, with Merkel now making very public digs at the new US President, some are trying to read more into the plan to dump this law. The timing is, most likely, more of a coincidence, but perhaps it will free up Merkel to come up with better insults for other world leaders.

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Comments on “Germany Finally Dumps Law That Says It's A Crime To Insult Foreign Leaders”

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Anonymous Coward says:

ahhh... well hey...

“The timing is, most likely, more of a coincidence, but perhaps it will free up Merkel to come up with better insults for other world leaders.”

Yea… the emperor does need a new pair of clothes and all that.

Governments rarely do things like this unless it is about to benefit someone important. Sure is funny how many pissant fucking citizens they chewed through until someone important had something nasty to say right?

I happen to have a load of disbelief right here for ya to hold on to for ma, keep it safe ima be right back….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ahhh... well hey... VICTORY FOR FREEDOM OF SPEACH

This is an Obvious Victory for Freedom of Speech in Germany.
Sooner or later a German Comedian will Ridicule Trump.

And Trump will no be able to sue the wise-cracker in a German Court. So in a fit of Rage he will launch the rockets and the black forest will glow at night.

Yea, I say, Don’t ever let a bully boss you round.

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: ahhh... well hey...

There were rumblings about this law getting repealed back when Erdogan decided to use this law to go after German citizens. I have a friend who lives in Germany, we chat via Skype, and he was actually skeptical as to whether this would happen. The law may have been repealed a bit sooner than they were aiming for, since it was supposed to be in time to stop a specific lawsuit that was reported here, and that lawsuit was scheduled for later this year. I forget who it was that was being sued by Erdogan, but with the law repealed, that lawsuit is pretty much toast. I’m sure Merkel will absolutely reap the benefits of repealing the law, but this was started before Trump becoming President was even starting to look likely.

David says:

Actually, this wasn't comedy.

Jan Böhmermann used his screen time just to flat-out insult Erdoḡan in a crude manner, calling him goat fucker and other things. There really was no redeeming element in the whole act: it clearly was not even trying to be funny but intended to either test or demonstrate the limits of speech in a purportedly free country.

Did it backfire? I have no idea what the actual aim was so it’s hard to tell. But it’s good that the aftermath did away with the “Majestätsbeleidigung” law. So he did his country a service. I’d have preferred if he had found a manner that actually would also have been funny, but this way was probably more certain to trigger.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Imagine if a US leader realized that if they do unconstitutional things, they could make sure their own government agencies don’t sue them over it. It would then take private money, and years of time in court to bring a challenge. Depending on what kind of action we’re talking about, the challenge might not even matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why Imagine? It is happening in public fucking daylight!
The news is jam fucking packed with the very shit you stated.

The constant unconstitutional search by TSA.
The Patriot Act itself is an anathema.
The constant assault on the 2nd Amendment.
The tag team attacks on the 1st by both the right and left.
The constant taking of property without due process through unconstitutional civil forfeiture laws.
Innocents going to jail or pleading guilty because of dishonest and unconstitutional DA actions and threats.

The list is really too fucking damn long!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You had me until “constant assault on the 2nd Amendment”.

You should do a little research on the history of the NRA. It used to be a group made of and run by responsible gun enthusiasts. “The NRA was committed to gun-control laws for most of the 20th century—helping to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use until the 1980s.”[1]

But then most of the higher level positions in the organization were effectively bought out by paranoid libertarians and these days by many gun manufacturers. And now they just use the organization to fear-monger, about how the ‘gubmint’ is gonna take yer guns, in order to sell more guns.

Just look at Obama’s 2 terms. What has happened? 1) The government hasn’t taken away anyone’s guns. 2) Gun sales are higher than ever.[2]

What seems to have changed is that there are more and more paranoid people who believe they need a gun for protection.[3] Between 2000 and 2015 the percentage of people who own a gun for protection has gone from 26% to 48%. Even though there’s nothing more than a few anecdotes of people saving anyone with their gun, and mountains of studies that show owning a gun makes you far more likely to die by a gun due to accidents and being more likely to succeed at a suicide attempt. More than 60% of gun related deaths are suicides [4].


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