Turkish Court Establishes A Special 'Expert Panel' To Determine If Comparing Prime Minister To Gollum Is An Insult

from the what-about-mocking-the-whole-thing? dept

The government of Turkey has a really... weird relationship with the internet. The government seems quite quick to attack internet services and to shut them down if anyone says anything even mildly critical of the government. Starting about six years ago, we noted that Turkey would do things like banning all of YouTube or Blogger to try to block a single mocking or critical video or blog post. These bans seemed to come and go -- sometimes leading the actual citizens of Turkey to protest the outright censorship of useful services. In the last couple of years, things have ramped up a bit. An attempt to block a single blog post resulted in 60 million Wordpress sites being blocked. Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan at one point ordered a ban on all of Twitter... even filing a lawsuit against his own government over this. There have also been attempts to ban Facebook. Oh, and Minecraft. In fact, just the other day the European Court of Human Rights said that Turkey's earlier YouTube ban violated freedom of expression in Turkey.

Indeed, that's pretty clearly the point. The Turkish government, and Erdogan in particular, don't want freedom of expression. Almost all of this stems from people posting jokes or mocking content about the government -- and Erdogan in particular. Erdogan seems to have incredibly thin skin for a ruler of a major country. But even with all of that as background, the latest story out of Turkey is super weird. A Turkish physician, Bilgin Ciftci, is in court for potentially insulting Erdogan via social media for sharing this image on social media:
On the right are three photos of Erdogan. On the left? Of course, that's Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies. In other words, it's a silly social media joke, the kind you see all the time. Except Erdogan got offended and now Ciftci faces up to two years in jail. Except, making the situation even more bizarre, the judge in the case can't decide if comparing someone to Gollum is an insult, so he's establishing a special expert panel to determine whether or not the image is an insult:
The court ordered that the investigation be conducted by a group composed of two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions.

The chief judge gave the decision after Hicran Danisman, a lawyer representing Ciftci, asked him whether or not he had seen the movie series “The Lord of the Rings.” Saying that he had seen only seen parts of them, the chief judge postponed the hearing until Feb. 13, 2016. Danisman stated in a previous hearing that neither the prosecutor nor the chief judge had seen the movies, even though the character of Gollum was at the center of the case.
Ciftci claimed that Gollum was not a bad character and that he did not insult anyone.
I'm not sure I'd agree that Gollum "was not a bad character," but this is a joke on the internet. What kind of President gets upset about that? Ciftci, for his part, seems to recognize how ridiculous this is:
The 47-year-old doctor told The Independent that he was “very surprised” when he learned he would be prosecuted. The case, he said, showed that Turkey was going through “a very difficult time.” Asked if he regretted sharing the images, he said: "I see it as a question of freedom of speech and of humour. I don't think I've done anything to regret."
Maybe Turkey should just ban the internet from Erdogan's home and office.

In the meantime, of course, what's happening is that this silly jokey picture that Erdogan is apparently so offended by is getting shared absolutely everywhere, because what better way to point out how ridiculous it is to try to censor this image than to make sure it's seen by just about everyone. One wonders if Erdogan knows or cares about this -- or if he's just trying to create a chilling effect for others in the future. Still, if he wanted to cement his reputation as being particularly thin-skinned about public commentary and criticism, it's difficult to think of a better way to do so.

Filed Under: bilgin ciftci, chilling effect, free speech, gollum, insult, joke, recep tayyip erdogan, turkey


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 3:17am

    Misplaced insult

    Forget the idiot in charge of Turkey being insulted by being compared to Gollum, if anything the Gollum character should be insulted to be compared to him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 4:49am

    filthy , parodies ruuin everyfing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 4:50am

    Time to give mrs Streisand some rest

    Time to give mrs. Streisand some rest and call it...

    the Erdogan-effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 4:52am

    Well this issue is all well and good and everything, but shouldn't we be screaming about the blatant LotR copyright infringement going on right now?! And the infringment of the photographer of Erdogan?!!?

    Stop violating identity rights of creative work! Stop infringing on freedoms!! You freedom hater you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 4:56am

    God help the EU if Turkey gets in!! Erdogan is a dangerous man, in my opinion, doing as much as he can to instill Turkey under a dictator!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:49am

      Re:

      Turkey cannot join the EU in its current state.

      The EU is comprised of Secular nations with basic human rights, these two things are not optional when joining the EU and these very fundamental things do not exist in Turkey.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:05am

        Re: Re:

        either you are kidding
        or you are not born and living in the EU
        or you have been brainwashed via education

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It has been proven you do not have rights in
          -Spain
          -Greece
          -Cyprus
          -Germany
          -France
          -...

          Turkey is actually PERFECT for the EU rights.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Please be specific, my clairvoyant capabilities seem to have missed something in your post.

          Which is it:
          1) EU is not secular?
          2) EU does not provide for basic human rights?
          3) These two things are optional in joining the EU?
          4) Turkey is secular?
          5) Turkey does provide basic human rights?

          On a side note, brainwashing and education are, by definition, not even remotely similar. In practice however ...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 8:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 11:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I think the post to which you responded was asking for you to be more specific ... to which you replied with more obtuse innuendo.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 12:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Generally speaking, if I ask questions and someone replies with a random YouTube video without commentary, I consider them to have no actual point of their own. They're certainly incapable of articulating their own original thoughts, so I expect them to be equally incapable of researching a subject and considering their sources.

                Bonus with the above: he answered a series of questions about the EU and Turkey with a video of a US representative presumably talking about domestic policy (I say presumably because I won't waste any more time with this kind of random link than it takes to see the title of the video and its source on the off chance they have a point).

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 1:19am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I generally only provide a link if I feel they make my point significantly better than I myself could. Also, taking the time to write paragraphs each time someone asks a basic question about copyright, censorship, patent law, ect, is an absolute pain in the ass.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 1:38am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    A link to a video with a quick comment about "this explains my point better than I could because X" is fine. As is a link to a previous comment you've made if you don't wish to type everything out again - "here's what I said before", etc. Not everyone has the time, inclination or ability to explain everything from scratch, I get that.

                    However, a link with no comment where you have to click on it to even see what the video references, let alone if it's from a reliable source or even relevant to the conversation is an immediate red flag. I've had many arguments where I try to explain how the link is irrelevant, misleading or even outright lies. It's rare that someone who reverted to simply pasting YouTube links was interested in an honest discussion, in my experience. Here you'll note, the AC who did this has not bothered to even address the question of how the video was relevant to statements about the EU, let alone answer the questions posed to him.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 6:47pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      As a general rule, I don't link to videos if I want to prove a point, I usually link an article, TD being a major example. Also I managed to completely miss where you said video. Brain is mothballing this days. If I link a video it's either because of a conversation about that one specifically, or the conversation is about jokes and really funny shit.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jameshogg (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:28am

        Re: Re:

        And considering how it is currently occupying the territory of Cyprus, another EU member state...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re:

        Turkey cannot join the EU in its current state.

        Why not? they let them in NATO, didn't they?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      It's looking increasing unlikely at the present, but you never know. Although, I suspect that Turkey joining would ramp up UK support for leaving.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:04am

    Gotta keep the country distracted while you allow IS fighters/supplies to pass through your country undisturbed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:15am

    Someone please send this to Putin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:15am

    "Turkish Court Establishes A Special 'Expert Panel' To Determine If Comparing Prime Minister To Gollum Is An Insult to Gollum, our fellow Smeagol from Rivendell."

    The experts are Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:30am

    YOU SHALL NOT PASS

    Actually Erdogan is a flaming Balrog.


    Gandolph.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:37am

    "The court ordered that the investigation be conducted by a group composed of two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions."
    the opinion of ONE expert on cinema and television production (Geek fluent in Klingon) equals the opinion of 2x psychologists or 2x behavioral scientists
    or 2x academics !!!

    finally the geeks are taking over

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:39am

    Judge can't decide, esatblishes expert panel

    If it takes a previously non-existent, special expert panel to determine if it is an insult, how was the doctor supposed to know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 5:46am

    After a closed door 48 hours discussion the experts panel came to the conclusion that "you can make a parallel between Syrias Oil and the ring. Thence, there is no insult and Mr. Smeagol should cannot reclaim any indemnization nor damages"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:01am

    timing.

    good lord, this isn't the time for turkey to do something like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Dec 2015 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      I can't help thinking they should make a slight change to the spelling of their country's name: Turkeys.

      I mean, seriously, guys? How did an epic clown like Erdogan come to power then keep hold of it? Can you imagine what he's like out of the spotlight?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:18am

    Turkish Court establishing a special expert panel to determine whether or not their fearless leader is a nut.

    Film at eleven

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 6:26am

    This could be straight out of one of those dystopian future books.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Name Redacted, 3 Dec 2015 @ 7:43am

    Insulting

    Turkish Court Establishes A Special 'Expert Panel' To Determine If Comparing Prime Minister To Gollum Is An Insult....to which one?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 3 Dec 2015 @ 8:16am

    I love the idea of banning the offended rather than the offender.

    And for what it's worth, Gollum isn't a bad character. He's a great character. And any evil he does is because he's been corrupted by the ring. The ring is bad. Gollum is not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 8:17am

    Clearly, the person that Erdogan needs...

    ...is reputation management expert Patrick Zarrelli.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 10:13am

      Re: Clearly, the person that Erdogan needs...

      It's weird how 'Patrick Zarrelli' works as a punchline to about half of TechDirt's posts. Rowsdower.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 8:28am

    Question

    I am not sure I understand. Is Erdogan complaining because he is or isn’t considered precious?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vic, 3 Dec 2015 @ 9:18am

    Oh, they'll get that physician nailed. If not for this, then as a last resort - for copyright infringement with the help of an expert on TV and movie production.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 3 Dec 2015 @ 9:53am

    Erdogan Is President, Not Prime Minister

    Just thought I’d point that out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 3 Dec 2015 @ 11:00am

    There's no comparison between Gollum and Erdogan. Gollum is much more lifelike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2015 @ 12:55pm

    Peter Jackson actually volunteered evidence in this case, rightly pointing out that it's not Gollum in any of the left-hand pictures - it's Smeagol.

    "Sméagol is a joyful, sweet character. Sméagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Sméagol."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tracyanne, 3 Dec 2015 @ 2:30pm

    the concensus here

    is. Yes it is... to Gollum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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