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October 24th, 2017

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The law is (still) an ass

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published Jan. 25, 2016

The law is (still) an ass

Justice! In September, federal judge Cathy Seibel ordered the town of Liberty, New York (100 miles from New York City), to stand trial for failure to teach police and prosecutors proper free-speech law -- thus giving plaintiff Willian Barboza revenge for his arrest for writing a "crude" message on the speeding ticket he paid three years ago.

Seibel ruled that Barboza's phrase (urging intercourse upon the manure-like town) posed no "imminent" threat and, besides, was obviously just a complaint about government services.

Seibel also raised the possibility that money damages will come from the prosecutor's own pocket. [Associated Press via Yahoo News, 9-16-2015]

Dr. Bilgin Ciftci was fired in October from Turkey's Public Health Institution and later charged with violating one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's favorite laws -- against "insulting" the president (which carries a maximum four-year prison term) -- because Ciftci had joined a Turkish Facebook thread that was denouncing Erdogan with facial images comparing him to the "Lord of the Rings" character Gollum.

The judge, admitting his unfamiliarity, appointed a five-person group of experts to advise him whether the Erdogan-Gollum comparison was "insulting." ("The Lord of the Rings" film director Peter Jackson immediately protested that the images depict not Gollum but his benign alter ego Smeagol, making the comparison obviously uninsulting.) [Washington Post, 12-2-2015; The Guardian (London), 12-3-2015]

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