Linking President to Penis May put Pole in Prison
A Polish citizen faces a stiff penalty for playing a little joke on President Lech Kaczynski.
A Polish computer programmer could face up to three years in jail for linking a Polish word for penis to the presidential Web site. Marek W., 23, created a programme that caused the official home page of Polish President Lech Kaczynski to rank first in the list of results on the Google search engine when “kutas”, a vulgar term in Polish, was typed in by an Internet user. The computer programme did something similar to a practice known as “Google bombing” that links the Web sites of politicians and companies to insulting words or phrases.
He has been charged with insulting the president and prosecutors said on Friday he could face up to three years in jail if convicted. “This is not a matter of freedom of speech,” said Andrzej Holdys, a regional prosecutor in the southern town of Cieszyn, where the programmer lives. “If somebody uses a derogatory word to libel the head of state than it’s a clear insult which violates the law.”
Police said the suspect confessed to writing a programme to test his skills at creating a Google bomb. Police and prosecutors did not give the programmer’s full name, as is usual when someone faces charges in Poland. He has not been detained.
President Kaczynski and his twin brother, the prime minister, have been popular targets for jokes and caricatures both in Poland and abroad. They are referred to as the “ducks” because their name is related to the Polish word for the bird.
Were Marek operating in English, he could claim a typo. He is, after all, only one letter off.
More seriously, this isn’t exactly a strong indication that Poland has fully embraced liberal democracy. The former Warsaw Pact nation was one of the first to stand up against Soviet domination and has been admitted to full membership in the EU and NATO. It’s about time for them to get on board the free speech bandwagon.
via Bill Jempty