The Null Device

Contempt for the office of the head of state

An international manhunt is under way for a Polish man who expressed his disapproval of the government by means of flatulence after being asked what he thought of the president:
Hubert Hoffman, 45, was charged with "contempt for the office of the head of state" for his actions after he was stopped by police in a routine check at a Warsaw railway station.
He complained that under President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw, the country was returning to a Communist style dictatorship.
When told to show more respect for the country's rulers, he farted loudly and was promptly arrested.
When you get beyond the gross-out-Hollywood-comedy elements of this story, it starts looking rather disturbing. The implication is that, in Poland, the police are routinely stopping people, asking them what they think of the president, and arresting those who give the wrong answer. Given that the EU is bringing pressure to bear on Turkey to scrap its laws against "insulting Turkishness" before even thinking about being admitted to the EU, one of its own member states behaving in this fashion beggars belief.

Incidentally, if an Australian was stopped by Australian Federal Police outside SouthernCross Station, asked what he thought of the Prime Minister, and replied in this fashion, could he be charged with sedition? And if so, would he be?

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