March 10, 2010
Not Comics: British Artist Has Jail Time Commuted In Most Recent Application Of Crappy Turkish Law
The story itself is pretty straight-forward
: Michael Dickinson, a British artist living in Turkey, was convicted of insulting the dignity and honor of Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan through a collage/cartoon that featured the PM's head on the body of a dog. The sentence came out to 425 days in prison, which was immediately commuted to a middle four-figure fine. When Dickinson declared he wouldn't pay, the judge told him as long as he didn't do it again, he wouldn't have to.
As the article explain, it's just another week of artists living with the country's criminal code, particularly article 125, through which powerful political figures like the Prime Minister use the court to try artists for insulting depictions. This has included a number of cartoonists. The combination of a political figure thinking they have the right to act without potential insult, the law itself, the willingness of a political figure to work in a court system that may favor them just because of who they are, and a wide array of application strategies by judges and prosecutors makes Turkey a routinely awful place for free expression. Moreover, it's a basic set-up you also see in other countries, which means it has a foothold in popular thinking.
posted 9:00 am PST
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