2 Spanish cartoonists have been fined for drawing a cartoon depicting the Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia having sex – see the original cartoon here, and the BBC News article. Make of the cartoon what you want, but there are 2 important issues here: trying to break the taboo about criticizing royals, and free speech. Have we really gone so far in Europe that we dare not make jokes about members of royal families? Do we need to protect them in the same over-the-top way as we do people with ludicrous religious faiths?
Further, what would have happened in the UK if Private Eye had published an equivalent cartoon on its front page (more vulgar in style than my mockup above)? In an interesting piece also on the BBC News website, William Horsley cites a study of 20 European countries with only in the UK and Czech Republic not having seen journalists threatened with prosecution on freedom of speech related issues. Yet unlike most of the rest of Europe, no mainstream UK newspapers were ready to reproduce the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons; maybe the sensitivities of the UK’s media barons are the more important form of censorship. Plus is Nicholas Witchell, the BBC’s royal correspondent, ever going to give a royal a grilling Ã la Jeremy Paxman versus a Cabinet Minister? Forget it.
Let’s be ready to be critical of the royals, just like in free countries in Europe we can be critical of our politicians. Plus if you’re British, join Republic, the UK campaign to abolish the monarchy.