It’s a good idea for police to be on the ball, but police unions detested a story that was published by El Jueves magazine shortly after Catalonia referendum violence.
The controversial publication went to the extent landing the editor of a satirical magazine in court over a tongue-in-cheek article that suggested the riot police deployed to stop the Catalan independence vote had snorted the region’s entire supply of cocaine. I mean, it’s a satirical magazine!
El Jueves published a story on the 5th October, four days after the Catalan government’s unilateral independence referendum was marred by police violence, the story was entitled: “The continuing presence of riot police exhausts Catalonia’s cocaine reserves – Colombian cartels have warned they can’t keep up with such high demand.”
The content had quotes from a made-up drug dealer, who complained: “I haven’t got a gram left, mate. No speed either. They’ve had it all. And you can’t sell this lot any old shit – they’re professional junkies!”
It also said officers billeted on the famous Tweety Pie ferry – a ship featuring a painting of the cartoon character that was used to house the police – were appealing for grateful Spaniards to send them cocaine rather than ham, and reported that Spain’s interior minister was worrying that police might turn to MDMA instead: “How are we going to maintain order if some officers are more interested in stroking their own bodies?”
As you’d expect, the article went viral after it was retweeted almost 15,000 times and even came to the attention of the national police force, who tweeted: “We support and defend freedom of expression – but don’t you think you’ve crossed the ‘line’? #RESPECT.”
The Spanish police unions argue that the piece was disrespectful, dangerous and possibly defamatory and have filed a complaint with prosecutors. The editor of El Jueves, Guillermo Martinez-Vela has been summoned to appear in court after legal proceedings were initiated.
In response to the incident, Martínez-Vela said part of the problem was that the article had been retweeted so much that it had reached those who were not accustomed to El Jueves’s strident brand of humor.
“It seems that those who were most shocked were a bunch of police unions, who pushed for a complaint to be filed – and then one was,” he told the Guardian.
“We’ve been doing this for more than 40 years at El Jueves. We mix humor with current events and everything we do is fiction: we take elements of the news to make up funny fiction. Our readers get that completely. But it seems that someone got offended in this case. Still, as Ricky Gervais says, ‘Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right’.”