Free Speech

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
free speech, satire, saudi arabia



Saudi Government Outlaws Satire; Violators To Face Five-Year Prison Sentences

from the suck-it,-bin-Salman dept

Lately, real life pretty much anywhere in the world has threatened to kill off satire. The surrealism of day-to-day politics, combined with the increasing embrace of extreme viewpoints by world leaders, has made satire all but impossible.

The Saudi government isn't content to let satire die of natural causes. It's going to nuke it from prosecutorial orbit.

Saudi Arabia will punish online satire that "disrupts public order" with up to five years in prison, the public prosecutor said Tuesday, as the kingdom cracks down on dissent.

"Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media ... will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000)," the public prosecution tweeted late Monday.

A "cybercrime." OK, then. $800,000 for mockery and ridicule of religious values or public morals. Mohammed bin Salman's consolidation of power continues. As the article points out, bin Salman has been "heavily criticized" by human rights groups for numerous actions he's undertaken. As the article doesn't point out, this criticism isn't having much effect. Perhaps someone could do something more drastic… like yank Saudi Arabia's G20 Summit hosting privileges until it starts respecting a human rights again.

The Saudi government has been jailing citizens for a few years now. It mainly targets Twitter users, some of whom have somehow "harmed public order" by not properly praising the state-sponsored religion. The government has also opened a "see something, say something" hotline to report satire and other such upsetters of public order to better aid bin Salman in eliminating dissent.

Criticism and mockery of government and religions is what sets apart countries with freedom from those without. Authoritarians are cowards -- unwilling to even allow criticism, much less respond to it. Iron fists swaddled in the softest gloves to prevent even the faintest of bruising.

It's one thing to see someone like bin Salman jailing his country's own citizens for criticizing him or the government's official religion and feel powerless to stop it. It's quite another when leaders from the "free" world are willing to overlook bin Salman's actions to avoid upsetting the "public order" of a 2020 summit playdate. These world leaders look no less cowardly for refusing to take this step.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    haha hehe hoho, 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:46am

    every hear the one about a saudi arabian and a camel ....GUESS FUCKING NOT LOL

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:47am

    If you need to demand it, you're not worthy of it

    It mainly targets Twitter users, some of whom have somehow "harmed public order" by not properly praising the state-sponsored religion.

    If someone feels that they need to force respect for something, whether that be a person or religion, they have instead revealed that the desired target for 'respect' deserves none of it, and instead deserves contempt, mockery, or both.

    An honest person will not feel the need to tell you how honest they are.

    A respectable person will not find it necessary to tell you how respectable they are.

    By demanding respect and praise and punishing refusal to give it they instead admit that they don't believe they could get it under anything less than a threat, and as such do not deserve it.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:20am

      By demanding respect and praise and punishing refusal to give it they instead admit that they don't believe they could get it under anything less than a threat, and as such do not deserve it.

      Are we talking about the Saudis or about the President of the United States⸮

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

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:01pm

        Re:

        Why not both?

        To that end, other than hair color and primary language, what's the difference?

        Oh, right, Trump hates Muslims, but then bin Salman probably hates Christians and Jews.

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

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Sep 2018 @ 5:08am

          Re: Re:

          I note with amusement that the country that spawned the 9/11 attack wasn't on Trump's ban list. Mind you, he has property there, so the comment should have been, "Oh, right, Trump hates Muslims from countries he hasn't got business interests in, but then bin Salman probably hates Christians and Jews."

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

    • identicon
      Vel the Enigmatic, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:40am

      Re: If you need to demand it, you're not worthy of it

      -but then you have people who are indeed honest, but are insecure about it.

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 4:50pm

      Re: If you need to demand it, you're not worthy of it

      A smart person will not feel the need to proclaim what a stable genius they are.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:08am

    what do you mean, "again"?

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:16am

    Satire should be killed off and replaced entirely by sarcasm.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:19am

    Their posts may as well be satire...

    Idle thought: I hope none of our usual trolls are Saudi nationals.

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:20am

    This must be a real problem

    This is serious. Add an additional public flogging and the punishment is almost as bad as a woman showing her hair to someone not her husband.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:54am

    Next they will outlaw drawing a picture of Mohammed. Oh wait...

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

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:15pm

    Globally?

    Any word as to whether or not they plan to enforce this on a global scale like the EU has done? The US and other countries begin receiving requests to have people extradited to Saudi Arabia for prosecution.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Globally?

      If it wouldn't require someone to face a potentially ruinious lawsuit I would *almost* hope they would try to go after someone in the US, as a lawsuit like that would be the *perfect* opportunity for further mockery and drawing attention to the Suadi government trying to punish someone for saying mean things about them/their religion.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:58pm

        Re: Re: Globally?

        Can we do this? I'm sure we could start a Twitter campaign and get a few thousand people to openly mock him on Twitter.

        As far as consequences, as bad as the U.S. can be sometimes, there's no way they would let a U.S. citizen be extradited for simply exercising their Constitutionally protected First Amendment right. The shitstorm that would descend on the government for doing that would be massive, yet glorious to watch.

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

        • icon
          Gary (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 1:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: Globally?

          I thought there already was a Twitter campaign to mock the one in Turkey?

          How long before #46 issues a statement that this is a good idea and we need tighter libels laws here? Damit That doesn't work if he's already said it, does it?

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

          • identicon
            carlb, 7 Sep 2018 @ 6:45am

            Re: How long before #46 issues a statement...?

            According to a prediction made back in 2000, #46 is President Lisa Marie Simpson (D-Springfield). As much as I've lost faith in the rest of the American system, I'd have confidence that she'd be above that sort of conduct. #45, on the other hand...

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 1:43pm

    This seems like outlawing music or dancing...

    It's one of those things an administration does to prove it is not just evil but fairy-tale-wicked-monarch evil.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 1:44pm

    Intersection with Poe's law

    I wonder how this crosses paths with radical extemist rhetoric that can easily be mistaken for satire.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2018 @ 6:08am

    queue Benny Hill music...

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

  • icon
    Jim P. (profile), 7 Sep 2018 @ 11:12am

    Satire

    Shouldn't be long before Trump hires him as a consultant since despots of any stripe loathe satire and parody into the depths of their non-existent souls.

    Nothing riles a dictator faster than being laughed at and no religion can withstand the bright light of comedy as few religious practices make sense or even look rational when looked at with laughter in mind.

    The whips and executiomner's sword won't be far behind. The world seems willingly headed back into a dark age of hate and fear and "faith" as an equal to facts and "God wills it" as an excuse for any social or government-backed evil.

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


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