Swiss Court Rules That You May Not Mock Sepp Blatter

Posted on December 16, 2013 4:41 pm

In the immortal words of Warren Zevon, send lawyers guns and money. The shit has hit the fan and I just want to say that they’ll never take me alive.

A Danish cartoonist named Ole Anderson has penned a book called “The Platter Cartoons” which consists of satirical renderings of the adventures of a man named Platter who wears a t-shirt shirt that says “Fair Play”. There’s not much room for misinterpretation as to who it is that he’s mocking.

Maybe it’s badly done, maybe it’s witty and hilarious, we just don’t know, but Andrew Jennings has seen some of the cartoons and reports that their major offense is to not take Sepp Blatter as seriously as he takes himself.

Astonishingly, FIFA’s attorneys – he apparently included them as a complainant so that he could have the legal work done by the small army of lawyers the federation now employs full time – got a Swiss judge to issue an injunction against publication solely on the basis of a letter from Blatter. No court proceeding was held.

In their letter, FIFA’s attorneys state that Blatter “has a good reputation” and claim that “if the cartoons were published he would never be able to repair the damage.”

Pause for laughter.

As those of us who were fortunate enough to have gone through school before the education system went into the toilet know, this is called prior restraint and is proscribed by our constitution and courts. You can get away with it in very limited circumstances (one oft-cited example is preventing the publication of wartime troop ship sailing schedules), but the Supreme Court has stated that any suit seeking a pre-publication injunction carries “a presumption of unconstitutionality”, and that’s an enormous, almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome.

And protecting the personal reputation of a man who is already derided worldwide as a thoroughly corrupted, pompous, dimwitted clown doesn’t exactly meet the standard. To say the least.

Apparently the Swiss feel differently.

You may recall that Blatter and FIFA tried this previously, just prior to the release of Jennings’ milestone book Foul. They asked a Swiss judge to ban publication but dropped the suit a day later when the publisher announced that they fully intended to fight it out in court.

It’s somewhat puzzling to find that Blatter has such a thin skin. It’s a rare day indeed when the man is not eviscerated in print somewhere around the planet. Why does this particular book irk him so?

In a world where sometimes it seems like everybody is angry at everybody else, where national interest, political philosophy and religion divide countries, regions, cities and neighborhoods and everybody is yelling at everybody else at the top of their lungs, sometimes simply in order to be heard over the gunfire, there’s one single solitary concept that people universally agree on the world over:

Sepp Blatter is an asshole.

From Outer Mongolia to Swaziland, from Bolivia to Belgium and all points in between, a billion soccer fans march in lockstep on this concept and few of them are reluctant to say so out loud or in print.

Satan has more fans than Sepp. Genghis Khan was more widely loved. Apartheid was more popular.

The crudest blunt instrument of a web search turns up hundreds if not thousands of cartoons depicting Sepp Blatter as an idiot or a tyrant or a buffoon or, incredibly, all three at the same time.

Hopefully Mr. Anderson’s publisher will stand up to the blatant bullying. The record would suggest that FIFA is bluffing, that they don’t really want a fight over this.

On the other hand, Blatter sits on a FIFA warchest containing literally billions of dollars and that kind of money combined with busloads of lawyers can give pretty much anybody pause.

We have no idea how all this will turn out or if we’ll ever get to see those cartoons Sepp is trying so hard to keep our eyes off of. But one thing is clear:

FIFA’s actions have turned an obscure book of probably harmless cartoons into a potential best seller.

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