Subscribe

Was Gollum a good guy? A Turkish judge asks.

A Turkish doctor faces up to two years in jail for posting a meme that compares President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the lowly Gollum, a character from the 'Lord of the Rings' series. The major point of contention in trial? Gollum's character. 

  • close
    The character "Gollum" is played by actor Andy Serkis in the new movie "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
    New Line Cinema
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Gollum wasn’t all that bad, right?

Believe it or not, the question at hand is a major point of contention in a Turkish libel case.

Bilgin Çiftçi, a physician from southern Turkey, posted on Facebook a picture comparing the infamous "Lord of the Rings" character, Gollum, formerly known as Sméagol, to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In the Middle Eastern country, insulting a public figure is a crime, and in recent years, censorship has intensified. Out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, Turkey ranks 149th.

Following his posting in September that possibly pokes fun at Mr. Erdoğan’s facial expressions, Dr. Çiftçi was fired from his job at the Public Health Institution of Turkey.

Then, as reported by NBC News, an anonymous source complained about the Facebook post to a local prosecutor, who pursued the case.

But in the Aydın 3rd Criminal Court Tuesday, the defendant’s attorney, Hicran Danışman, found out that chief judge Murat Saz had only seen snippets of the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus.

Unable to thoroughly assess the nature of Gollum’s character, the judge ordered a panel of five experts to investigate whether an allusion to the grotesque and evil-ring-obsessed creature constitutes as an insult.

"I am very surprised by the decision of the judge," Mr. Danışman said.

According to Today’s Zaman, a Turkish paper, Çiftçi never believed Gollum was a bad character. The group of experts include two scholars, two behavioral scientists or psychologists, and an expert of film and TV.

In the story, Gollum is a ghoulish cave dweller with a magic ring-induced case of split-personality disorder and a love for rabbit. In perpetual anguish over losing the eponymous “Precious" ring, Gollum agrees to help Frodo Baggins in his tumultuous quest to destroy it. Along the way, Frodo’s kindness brings out the softer side of Gollum – Sméagol, his former self, an innocuous hobbit before he came into possession of the ring.

Despite his grotesque hunting habits and a tendency to fat-shame Frodo’s right-hand man, Samwise Gamgee, Gollum ultimately delivers his promise of leading the two protagonists to Mount Doom, where he and the ring both fall to their demise into a river of evil-exterminating lava.

Under Erdoğan’s decade-long reign, crackdowns on media have become rampant, his critics say, pointing to the slew of pro-opposition newspapers and TV outlets that have been raided and dozens of journalists arrested.

In the first half of 2015, Turkey was responsible for 60 percent of all the requests to Twitter to remove posts, and has blocked more than 6,000 websites.

But government officials are quick to dismiss claims of tyrannical censorship.

“About press freedom in Turkey, everybody sees the insults made against our president, [our political party], and me on the press and in the election campaigns,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, said in a statement regarding the raid of a TV station in October.

“Everybody expresses their opinions freely,” he added.

As for opinions involving Gollum? The world will have to wait and see. Judge Saz has adjourned the case until next February, when he will make a decision based on the testimony of the "Lord of the Rings" experts. If convicted, Çiftçi faces a sentence of up to two years.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK