Friday, July 20, 2007

THIS IS THE STATE of free speech in Spain. A few weeks ago, Zapatero took a rabbit out of his hat. In pure banana-republic style, or like Evita in Argentina, he decided out of the blue, in the middle of the State of the Nation debate in Parliament, to announce that all couples who gave birth to a kid from zero hours that night would get a 2,500 euros allowance from the government. Some press reports said his own advisers, let alone the members of the cabinet, were as suprised as everyone. It was something he decided, magnanimous ruler, to give to the masses. Let them eat diapers, or something like that.

This week, the satirical magazine El Jueves decided to print a cartoon in its cover. It's certainly not the best taste: it shows prince Felipe and princess Letizia making love and talking about hitting the jackpot, if you get my point.

Today, a Madrid judge has just ordered the issue with the cartoon in the cover to be confiscated from the newsstands. A big controversy has erupted in both conservative and liberal media and blogs.

Of course, I couldn't help but publish the offending cartoon here, for the sake of free speech. I did it for the Mohammed cartoons, when the risk was to get your throat cut across, so you think I wouldn't do it this time?

The cartoon may be NSFW, so be advised. And certainly not highbrow. But unlike the Motoons -who were important as a symbol but as for the humor they were quite lame- this one may make you smile, at least. Judge for yourselves:

Headline: "It shows that elections are coming, ZP! [shorthand for Zapatero]"
Bigger: "2,500 euros per kid"

Prince Felipe: "See? If you get pregnant... this the gonna be the closest I've been to doing a real job in my whole life!"

UPDATE: I obviously got a part wrong in the translation; it's prince Felipe the only one who talks. Fixed.

UPDATE II. A few people are telling me that such a cover would also have legal problems in the US because the magazine is sold where the kids can see it, and that's true there. But there's is a very different approach to public nudity display in the US and Europe. Here in Spain there's plenty of nudity visible in the newsstands (no brown bags etc). The judge's order is not based on that, but merely in that the cartoon is slanderous towards the royal family. He's applying a section of the law forbidding to disseminate anything that slanders the king, the queen or the rest of the royal family. The irony is that the magazine has weekly sales of about 70,000, but now it's all over the world, seen by millions. Even conceding for the sake of the argument that the cartoon is indeed offensive, well, you can say that the judge has done a heck of a job: the confiscation order has unleashed a wave of reaction and is posted all across the internets now. With the goal of stemming the cartoon's visibility, he has multiplied it by a factor of who knows what.

UPDATE III. John at Iberian Notes has more, including some background on how El Jueves reacted to the Motoons controversy.