The case of the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél is not given due weight. I’m not necessarily referring to expressions of support for Catalan (which I would have called shy in Portugal), but rather an open and thorough discussion on an issue that affects us all – the right to be offended. Freedom of expression is still a taboo subject that we unfortunately do not want to address because in our country, as people say, “respect is very nice”. We always like to keep social distance. Is there a right to offend? The answer is not easy.
Hasél’s case is interesting and shouldn’t be a niche issue, exclusive to a hundred names on the show who petitioned online. The solidarity petition to Pablo Hasél (signed by 4.5 thousand people) is too one-dimensional an exercise for such a complex topic. The text defends that “the only crimes of Pablo Hasél (…) were the denunciation of the flagrant corruption of a monarchy that is democratically less and less legitimized” and shoots that “in a democracy artists are not sentenced to nine months imprisonment” Prison (…) for singing and writing ”. The problem is, they can. They can be in Spain and they can even be in Portugal. But let’s go.
First and foremost, Context – Pablo Hasél, Catalan rapper – was sentenced to nine months in prison for crimes of the “crime against the crown” and the “apology for terrorism”, which he wrote in his songs and on his Twitter account. Yes, the tweets were brought to justice. It seems childish, but that’s exactly what happened. According to The Guardian newspaper, the crime against the Crown earned him a heavy fine and the apology for terrorism earned him the penalty for effective detention. Wanting to know exactly what we’re talking about, I looked for the infamous rhymes that threw Pablo in jail. Thanks to “El Mundo” for the anthology (here is the link where you can also find the tweets it was judged for) and Google Translate for the Catalan translations which I later adapted (I’m open to corrections).
“You deserve to check out Patxi López’s trainer!” – “Patxi López’s car should explode!”
“I’m not sorry that you shot in the back of the head, Pepero. I’m sorry about the change in a patera. I’m not sorry you shot in the back of the head, socialist. “-” I don’t care if you get shot in the back of the head, Pepero [membro do PP]. I feel sorry for everyone who dies in a patera [barcaça de emigrantes ilegais]. I’m not sorry to have been shot in the back of the head, socialist. “
“May someone clone a hood in José Bono’s head” – “May someone put an ax in José Bono’s head.”
“Punishment for changing wretched babies, for giving out a new paste for aesthetic operations” – “Death penalty for wretched babies already, for spending our money on cosmetic operations.”
“In my public school there was violence and it wasn’t the bell of portraits of the monarchy on the slate.” – “In my public school there was violence and it was not from ETA, but portraits of the monarchy on the painting. ”
“I prefer staples to guapos. My brother enters the PP headquarters screaming. Gora ETA! In the end, I am not selling myself the quiénes son los malos, just thinking about killing them. “-” I prefer staples to pretty boys. My brother enters the PP headquarters and shouts “Gora ETA!”. They don’t sell me the story of who the bandits are, I just think about killing them. “
“It also deserves a navajazo na belly e colgarlo na Platz” – “It also deserves a stab in the belly and to be hung in a square.”
“That I read a bomb that revives your sesos and sets the scene in the port of La Paeria” – “Let them throw a bomb, let their brains explode and put their ashes on the door of the paeria”
What do we have here? Awkward rhymes? Check. Offensive content? Check. Violations of the Royal Family? Check. Bonus references to terrorists? Check. Concrete threats to the physical integrity of a person? I do not believe that. Reason to arrest a man? Under no circumstance. But I say that. Spanish law says otherwise.
In Spain it is a crime to violate the crown. It is one of those centuries-old advantages of the monarchy, a regime that in the 19th century does not feel sufficiently anchored by nepotism and manages to overcome itself with a law so declining that it contradicts the second American change of arms. Furthermore, the traumatic past with ETA dictated that Spanish law would make the humiliation of victims of terrorism – such a dangerously subjective concept – an excuse for terrorism and, as such, a crime punishable by imprisonment. For the judge who dissected the lyrics of Pablo Hasél’s songs and tweets, he was a checkmate.
Now that we have seen that freedom of expression is seriously affected in Spain, let us turn to the Portuguese case. It is ridiculous, like the petition mentioned above, to ask for the intervention of the Portuguese state when the justice of our country is used and used even more in this kind of phrase. The Criminal Code provides a whole chapter of the legal system for crimes against honor between Articles 180 and 189, which includes the numbers libel, violation and defamation. In addition, we have the icing on the cake, Article 328, which states that “anyone who insults the President of the Republic (…) will be punished with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine”. An item that the ineffable Cavaco loved. In other words, we curse the Spanish judiciary here and we have a law that is equal in everything. The big difference between Portugal and Spain? The fact is that the rappers here, at least those who have more visibility, have more decency. But even these are “able” (pun intended) to take at the table. Just think of the silly controversy in Valete’s video clip on the subject of “BFF”.
I have no legal training to explain the legal scope of the legal numbers listed above for sure, but they are in the applicable criminal code and they are quite common. The proof of this is that the Portuguese state is one of the European record holders for the number of convictions for violating freedom of expression at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Confused? I declare. While, as we have already seen, the Portuguese Penal Code contains a whole chapter devoted to the defense of individual honor, the ECHR considers this right to be of secondary importance due to freedom of expression. Therefore, many of those convicted of these crimes in Portugal turn to the European Court, which in this legal framework overturns national penalties and obliges the state to compensate the convicted.
So here we have an interesting case where Europe has moved towards freedom of expression by doing counter-cycling with some of its Member States, which in turn are obliged to pay substantial sums to those convicted of such crimes. And we will not deviate from it as long as countries adapt. Or, alternatively, leave the Union like the United Kingdom and see its sovereign courts again. I remember that this was one of the arguments used by those who defended Brexit. If Portugal tops the list of compensatory allowances, we can conclude that we also have a long way to go towards freedom of expression.
And that’s why I’m not only interested in defending Pablo Hasél, but also interested in stimulating this discussion. When you have come this far, you will have realized that the fundamental question of freedom of expression, and not freedom of expression, is a legislative issue that seems to me to be too entrenched in the concepts of past centuries. There is an urgent need to address this matter in the light of the 21st century and an urgent need to change the law. The interpretation of the law is vague, but it should only limit our freedom of expression in the strict need to defend inalienable values. The violence we witnessed on the Spanish streets should not be linked to this cause as it is and must remain a crime. But I fear street protests may be the only way to draw the country’s attention to this discussion. “Respect is very nice,” yes, but society should have its own mechanisms – starting with education, which I am not tired of saying is the greatest pillar of society – to regulate against fools without it imprisoned for disagreement.
I know hazel is not a saint. In addition to being convicted of violating the crown, the rapper received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for threatening to kill a man in a bar and another six months for assaulting a journalist in 2016. There is nothing to be said in this regard. I can’t shout “Free Pablo Hasél” to the sound of “Free the prisoners” from the dolphins because he always has to have time for these crimes. But the nine month sentence he took for songs he wrote and tweets he published is absolutely hideous for common sense and justice should be too. Here I am signing my name in defense of Pablo Hasél. Pablo didn’t take those nine months for anything he did; led by what he wrote, sang and tweeted. And if you look at the texts with disgust (which is legitimate) I invite you to look at your story on social media. You may have a surprise. They will tell me that in the defense of Hasél, I am giving a voice to an idiot. In addition, an idiot who makes bad music. May be. But as far as I know, stupidity is not a crime. It’s not bad music either. Nothing in Pablo Hasél’s music moves me in his defense except his right to do so. It is indeed inalienable.