Free speech of the week

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On a whim, I bought this week’s print edition of the Economist. As usual, it is full of well written, well edited, informative and interesting material from across the world. In general, its opinion pieces are solid and well argued. Although its Israeli coverage has become too much of a Guardian imitator, it remains the best quality print journalism I have read.

This week’s edition leads on free speech and censorship. The opinion piece Under attack includes this gem:

One strongman who has enjoyed tweaking the West for hypocrisy is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey. At home, he will tolerate no insults to his person, faith or policies. Abroad, he demands the same courtesy – and in Germany he has found it. In March a German comedian recited a satirical poem about him “shagging goats and oppressing minorities” (only the more serious charge is true). Mr Erdogan invoked an old, neglected German law against insulting foreign heads of state. Amazingly, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has let the prosecution proceed. Even more amazingly, nine other European countries still have similar laws, and 13 bar insults against their own head of state.

Think about the highlighted text. It’s a clever swipe at Erdogan; one that will have his political opponents smirking, and the man himself fuming. And, at the same time, it adds to the points being made about freedom of speech. Well done to the Economist.