Let’s meet our contestants in this race to the bottom!
Weighing in at 83 million residents, Turkey has decided to make the downloading of a messaging app illegal, with possession of it subjecting the thought criminal to prison time, loss of employment, and social scorn for being a terrorist. The app is called ByLock, and it’s basically a watered-down version of WhatsApp that has now reached over a million downloads (wow, that’s a lot of terrorists!). The reason this app earned contraband status was because an opposition political party movement called Gülen allegedly liked to use the app to communicate.
Weighing in at 38 million residents, Poland has a pet peeve. You see, some people have been referring to Nazi concentration camps that existed in Poland during World War II as “Polish death camps.” Poland takes umbrage at this depiction because, while there were indisputably death camps in Poland, they were not “Polish;” they were German. So the correct way to handle this situation is not to educate the public but to criminalize the stringing of 3 words together. Those who use the term “Polish death camps” instead of “death camps in Poland” will be subject to a 3 year term in a Polish death camp — er, I mean, prison.
The scoreboard stands as follows:
Turkey’s measure is specifically intended to stifle political dissent, which earns them 12 points. They also earn 5 points for futility, since there’s no special technology behind ByLock and dissidents could simply switch to virtually any messaging app. They earn 3 more points for accidentally arresting over a thousand people who were mistakenly thought to have downloaded the app. They earn 1 more point for being ignored by the mainstream media until they accidentally arrested the wrong people (apparently it wasn’t enough of a story when they arrested actual users of an innocent messaging app to silence political dissidents). And they earn 2 more points because Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, smells of bad döner.
Poland gets 6 points for the stiff prison sentence for such a subtle linguistic nuance. They get 2 points for criminalizing the saying of something for no other reason than that it embarrasses them. They get 5 points for using the Holocaust as an excuse to be authoritarian. They get 2 more points for criminalizing something Barack Obama once did. And, I give them 3 points for being a secular, democratic nation from which we should be able to expect better. But, I deduct 2 points for pissing off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who puzzlingly equates this with Holocaust denial (no Ben, it’s not Holocaust denial, it’s just stupidity and thuggery).
That’s 23 points for Turkey and 16 points for Poland so far. Let’s see if Poland can catch up, or perhaps another country will join the battle, which is traditionally initiated by having the country’s leader get on Twitter and announce their candidacy using the hashtag #HoldMyBeer.