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Thursday, 18 May 2017

German TV show allowed to call right wing politician 'Nazi sl*t', Hamburg court rules

Alice Weidel
From Katfriend Mirko Brüß (Waldorf Frommer Rechtsanwälte) comes the news that a German court has just ruled on the matter whether someone can be addressed on national television as a 'Nazi sl*t'.

While the case is not directly IP-related, it is nonetheless interesting because to reach its decision the court focused on the notion of satire, ie something that - instead - has a direct IP relevance.

Here's what Mirko writes: 

"German politician Alice Weidel, who is the leading candidate of the right wing party AfD, tried to obtain an injunction against the TV station NDR after being called a 'Nazi sl*t' (original 'Nazi-Schl**e') on a satirical TV show ('Extra 3') on 27 April last (see here, at 3'40''). The district court of Hamburg denied her application, ruling that the statement was justifiable because of its satirical context (case No. 324 O 217/17).

'Extra 3' had reacted to a statement made by Weidel at a political convention of the AfD. There, she said: 'political correctness belongs on the junkyard of history'. Christian Ehring of the 'Extra 3' show had picked up this statement and said: 'Yes! Let’s end this political correctness, let us all be incorrect. The Nazi-Sl*t is right about this! Was this incorrect enough? I hope so!'

The court justified its judgment by analyzing the words used and their context. While it is clear that addressing someone personally as a 'Nazi sl*t' would be an insult that could result in civil and criminal liability, the result can be different when the statement is made in a certain context, as it happened here. 

The court found that Christian Ehring made the statement in a clearly satirical way. He used the words 'Nazi' and 'Sl*t' as an exaggeration which is a typical feature of satire. 

The court also found a direct relation of his statement to Ms Weidel’s request to throw political correctness on the 'junkyard of history', as a clip of her statement was shown directly before. The radical wording used by Mr Ehring was intended to show the audience of 'Extra 3' where Ms Weidel’s demands could ultimately lead to. 

The court found that it would be clear to the viewers that the term 'nazi' was used as hyperbole that establishes a connection to her position as the leading candidate of the (right wing) AfD party, without implying that she is a supporter of nazi ideology. With regard to the word 'sl*t', the court found that this part of the statement clearly did not claim validity (possibly about her sexual behaviour) but was only chosen to tie in with her demand for 'incorrectness'.

The judgment can be appealed and Ms Seidel’s attorney and the AfD have announced their intention to do so.'

12 comments:

le petit rapporteur said...

Hmm. Calling somebody a nazi without implying that he/she is a supporter of nazi ideology? Doesn't sound right, does it?

MaxDrei said...

I see that Alice will appeal the judgement. Will she milk the case for all the publicity she can squeeze out of it? I fancy that she will.

If you want to know what "in context" connotes, you couldn't wish for a better example than this. Mr Ehring (and his script writers) are very skilled and funny in their exposure of the hypocrisies of politicians. His publisher is the public service broadcaster NDR.

The AfD has turned into a N-word party. As for the second word, I do not accept that the word slut conveys to English speakers what Schlampe conveys to Germans.

Anonymous said...

You can write the 'u' in 'slut'. We're all adults.

Kant said...

I am not sure "slut" is the correct word here. Perhaps "bitch" would be better?

Anonymous said...

Dear Max,

can you enlighten us on the meaning?

Anonymous said...

I find the headline somewhat misleading.

It suggests that the Court found it admissible to call a right wing politician "Nazi slut" (the translation "Nazi bitch" fits better, btw) independent from the context. However, the Court only decided on the admissibility of said statement within a specific (satirical!) context... that is a whale of difference!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Drei,

Your comment is telling -the emotive value of the word "slut" to a non native speaker who feels more strongly about a word in his own native language and what it coveys to him vs the English word. I can assure you that word "slut" to a native speaker is quite emotive, you cannot perceive that anymore than I can perceive what the word Schlampe coveys in German.

That is the problem with English being a mode of communication -non native speakers do not know the emotive value of the language.

I work in a conservative legal environment where my team has two native English speakers. Swearing by non native speakers in English is commonplace especially the F word and now the C word (but not interestingly by the native speakers) . I had to point out to someone that saying "he can shove it up his ar.." delivered in a nonchalant way is not quite what one says when referring to an option that we do not wish to take up unless the environment in general is one where everyone speaks like that. On another occasion, I asked a speaker whether he actually knew when he referred to a colleague's choice of sandwich bar as what " a w...k.." would choose what he thought goes on that bar.

It works the other way as well. Does the word "Gauleiter" bother you ? One sometimes hears native English and notably French speakers use that term to refer to German colleagues -I was told that that is really cruel.

MaxDrei said...

One really has to be watchful when adopting current street slang and jumping from one language to another. In Germany at the moment, for example, it seems to be chic to use the English word bitch. I'm not a German native speaker but every time I hear the word Schlampe, I have the feeling that its meaning is more like "sloven". You know the word slovenly? Well, for me, schlampig is like, slovenly.

Now, come on, how offensive is it to suggest that an offensively hypocritical member of a neo N-word party might be not so much a bitch but rather more of a guttersnipe, even a bit slovenly? Actionable?

Anonymous said...

Schlampe is more like slag and therefore it is one degree worse than slut.. I would happily describe myself as slovenly as it is quite a twee term for messy. But not a slag

Kant said...

There lie the perils of language. To say "du hast schlampig gearbeitet" might be valid criticism but to say "du bist eine Schlampe" would never be acceptable.

Mirko Brüß said...

I believe to some degree, the actual meaning of the original word will always be lost in Translation. There is no scientific method to determine whether "sl*t" or "b*tch" is closer to the original German word. I chose "sl*t" because in German, "Schlampe" can have a sexual connotation. The court did consider this aspect of the word, rather than the "slovenly" meaning of the word. To my understanding, in this case "sl*t" Comes closer to the original meaning than "b*tch".
Ultimately, it does not make much of a difference, because I am quite sure the court would have allowed both words in the context at hand.

Mirko Brüß said...

quick update: Ms. Weidel appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg, but has now withdrawn her appeal. She may still enter main proceedings, but this seems unlikely given the withdrawel.

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