As far as I am aware, I am the only artist in modern British history to have been jailed for the heinous crime of composing and singing satirical songs which I uploaded to the Internet.
In four weeks time, my trial will take place in London and the three songs concerned will be screened in court. Two clips will show songs from my appearance at The London Forum in September 2016 in front of an audience of roughly 100 people who, considering the standing ovation I received at the end, clearly enjoyed my performance. The third clip is of a song which contains the word SATIRE in the title, which leads me to the point of this blog post.
I presume that one of the reasons I was charged under the Communications Act 2003 rather than under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 is because of an amendment attached to the latter exempting satire – passed by one vote in the House of Lords. In recent blog posts and videos, I expose the double standards of my accusers who esteem that Ricky Gervais’ jokes about Schindler’s List 2 are incomparable to my brand of satire, despite another of my songs also making reference to the famous Hollyhoax film.
So what exactly is satire and how long has it been around? According to Wikipedia, the genre has its origins in Ancient Greece with Aristophanes’ Old Comedy:
Gods, artists, politicians and ordinary citizens were legitimate targets, comedy was a kind of licensed buffoonery, and there was no legal redress for anyone who was slandered in a play. There were certain limits to the scope of the satire, but they are not easily defined. Impiety could be punished in 5th century Athens, but the absurdities implicit in the traditional religion were open to ridicule.
Wikipedia’s main page on satire states:
The state of political satire in a given society reflects the tolerance or intolerance that characterizes it, and the state of civil liberties and human rights. Under totalitarian regimes any criticism of a political system, and especially satire, is suppressed. A typical example is the Soviet Union where the dissidents, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov were under strong pressure from the government. While satire of everyday life in the USSR was allowed, the most prominent satirist being Arkady Raikin, political satire existed in the form of anecdotes that made fun of Soviet political leaders, especially Brezhnev, famous for his narrow-mindedness and love for awards and decorations
In light of my prosecution, it would appear that the UK today is no better than the former Soviet Union when it comes to the censorship of artists. Strange. At school, I was taught that preservation of basic freedoms was the main reason for the ultimate sacrifice made by all those who fought and gave their lives in two world wars.
Also from Wikipedia, the legal status concerning satire in various countries is described as follows:
For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions. In Germany, and Italy satire is protected by the constitution.
Since satire belongs to the realm of art and artistic expression, it benefits from broader lawfulness limits than mere freedom of information of journalistic kind. In some countries a specific “right to satire” is recognized and its limits go beyond the “right to report” of journalism and even the “right to criticize.” Satire benefits not only of the protection to freedom of speech, but also to that to culture, and that to scientific and artistic production.
Somewhere on the Internet there is a German translation of the lyrics to (((Survivors))). Would the protection offered by the German constitution cover my song if I performed it over there? If I am acquitted next month, a test run might be in order…
Over the past week, YouTube have sandboxed and banned in an ever-growing list of countries several more of my videos. Here is something slightly different – not satire, although certainly political. Inspired primarily by my love of folk music, it’s a reworked version of a song I composed four years ago entitled Hear The Folk Sing! The last verse has been altered to pay tribute to German dissident Manfred Roeder who passed away in 2014 and who, I am told, always prophesied that We Win By Singing. With a little satire added to the mix, our victory shall be one that resounds for centuries to come, God willing.