Presidents, Satire, and Gay Cake

Just some random thoughts, and in no particular order, either. Probably putting both my big feet in my big mouth, but what the hell.

Let’s start with politics.

As opposed to, say, those in the US, the presidential elections in Austria are totally passing everyone by. Which, let’s be honest, is due to the fact that on a scale of global importance, Austria comes in, uh, at roughly the same rank as it usually does at the Eurovision Song Contest (apart from 1966 and 2014, of course). Also, the run-up lacks in show quality.

It’s not that Austria doesn’t try. We have our own Donald Trump in the person of Richard Lugner. But do our media hype him up? No. The one Austrian magazine I regularly read completely refuses coverage because ‘we only write about serious candidates’. You call that democratic? Big meanies, that’s what you are. No fun at all. We also have our own Hillary Clinton in the person of Irmgard Griss (can’t add a link for her as she hasn’t made it to the English version of Wikipedia yet). I should totally vote for her, shouldn’t I? Because feminism and stuff.

No.

Supporting a candidate because of their gender isn’t feminism. It’s sexism. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. If there are two candidates with the exact same qualifications representing the exact same political views, then, and only then, can you cast your vote based on their gender.

Let’s move on to Jan Böhmermann. Oh, the uproar. What was he thinking, writing and publicly reciting a poem like that?

In case you haven’t heard: Jan Böhmermann is a German comedian who had the audacity to pen a few verses about Turkish president Recep Erdogan. It wasn’t a particularly good poem, pretty much below the belt – sheep, goats, you name it – but that’s not the point.

The point is, Recep Erdogan didn’t think it funny. He got mortally offended. Offended enough to file charges. Everybody turned to Angela Merkel, German chancellor, expecting her to spread protective wings over the accused and forbid he be prosecuted.

And she didn’t.

Now, let’s for a moment forget all we know about refugees, about deals between the EU and Turkey, the situation in Turkey as regards human rights, freedom of speech and all that. Let’s for a moment imagine Jan Böhmermann had connected those sheep and goats to someone like, say, Mother Teresa. Would we have laughed then? Declared that all is fair in love, war and satire? Expected Angela Merkel to protect him?

The stupid thing about a democracy is, everybody gets a vote, even those we consider morons. And the stupid thing about constitutional rights is, they apply to everybody, regardless of whether we like them or not. According to article §103 of the German Criminal Code, insulting the head of another state is illegal. If Recep Erdogan wants a trial, he has the right to get one. Unless the political system you’re living in is a tyranny, it is not the government’s or the chancellor’s job to decide who’s guilty and who isn’t. That’s what judges and juries are for.

Angela Merkel did the only thing she could possibly do in this case: Make sure it won’t happen again. Article §103 is going to be abolished. From 2018 on, you can insult as many heads of state as you like.

Given that the trial will be on German soil, Jan Böhmermann probably doesn’t have much to worry about. And should worst come to worst, sorry Mr. Erdogan. You can’t have him. Germany doesn’t extradite its citizens.

And while we’re talking rights, let’s move on to the US. Everybody seems to be really excited about where to pee or not to pee. What sort of drowns in all this pee is something much, much worse than being forced to use a bathroom you don’t feel comfortable in. According to some recently passed/soon to be passed bills, it is totally okay to deny service to LGBT people, up to and including therapists turning away clients. All you need to do is, say it’s for religious reasons.

This isn’t just about cake. piece-of-pie-767019_1280(Truth be told, I half understand the cake issue. Imagine you’re a baker and some skinhead walks in, a swastika tattooed to his forehead, and asks you to bake a cake for his Nazi wedding. I know the imagery sucks – being a Nazi asshole is a choice, being lesbian or gay or transgender isn’t. No, wait, let’s do capital letters here, so that everybody gets it. LGBT IS NOT A CHOICE. PEOPLE ARE BORN THAT WAY. Anyway, I wouldn’t bake for everybody and neither would you, so let’s just forget the damn cake already.) It’s about discrimination, pure and simple.

Regardless of the fact that no one should go to such a close-minded therapist, as they’d probably wouldn’t possess the necessary empathy to do a good job anyway, there’s also this thing called the Hippocratic oath. You take an oath like that, you take it seriously. You don’t rescind it at the next best opportunity. I believe in personal freedom, but one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins. One person’s gayness does not affect another person’s religion, so one person’s religion should not affect another person’s gayness.

And there’s something else I absolutely don’t understand, and that is musicians cancelling their shows. Bruce Springsteen. Bryan Adams. Pearl Jam. Guys, you’re famous. Which means you have a certain amount of power. With great power comes great responsibility. What happens if you cancel your show? Okay, a few people will applaud you for taking a stance. A few more will be sad because they would have loved to see you play. And that’s it. Now, you obviously don’t care about the money you’d get for all those tickets, because if you don’t play, people will get it back. So how about this: Go there. Play your show. Use your presence to be as loud as you possibly can. And use the money you don’t care about to fund local campaigns. Pay for transgender restrooms. Build transgender bakeries. You could do so much more that way.

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About angelikarust

My name is Angelika Rust. I was born in Vienna in 1977. These days, I live in Germany, with my husband, two children, a despotic couple of cats and a hyperactive dog. After having tried almost every possible job from pizza delivery girl to HR consultant, I now make a living knowing English. No, I haven’t yet figured out what I want to be when I grow up, whenever that may be. In the meantime, I write the occasional book.
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