Saudi Arabia Declares Satire Is No Laughing Matter


Under the new law, “[p]roducing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media … will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000).”

Saudi Arabia continues to grapple with the freedoms allowed by the Internet and it has used “cybercrime” to impose authoritarian controls over its critics.  Now even joking about religious values or public morals will put you into jail for five years.



43 thoughts on “Saudi Arabia Declares Satire Is No Laughing Matter”

  1. This is why I don’t subscribe to the notion of cultural relativism, or that all cultures are equal.

    There are certainly things that I like about the Kingdom. However, our culture and laws are overall better. There is no comparison.

  2. While trying to resemble a modern country in allowing women to actually drive, the country continues to enforce medieval Sharia justice while criminalizing basic forms of speech like satire.

    You mean they pick and choose among ‘modern’ practices in an attempt to locate an optimum? Cannot have that, can we?

    You have this permanent running complaint that Saudi Arabia isn’t the Netherlands. It doesn’t seem to occur to you that there are people in this world who, given reflective equilibrium, don’t wish to be the Netherlands.

    The law sounds too vague to be justly enforced (not that that’s your real complaint). Then again, it’s a translation from Modern Literary Arabic which may itself incorporate terms of art which carry more content than they appear to read literally. And, of course, it’s a brief quotation shorn of context.

    What is your alternative for Saudi Arabia? What’s sustainable and optimal in that context is almost certainly not what you want. All you have to do is look around the Near East, Central Asia, and North Africa

    1. this is a reasonable point by Spas. we hear a lot of denunciations of foreign practices especially “outdated” cultural practices regarding the sexes, from the very same people who say were are supposed to give deference and relativistic respect to multiculturalism.

      It seems like they want it both ways; we have to respect the Somalis who commit clitoroidectomy, that’s just diversity, when they are immigrants; but if the Saudis wont process drivers licenses for women, that’s an outrage.

      Hard to understand!

      1. I recall Paul Schulte’s common response to this was to say their country, their laws. I haven’t seen him say that for awhile. And you’re right, the hypocrisy in this country is astonishing.

        1. OLLY – you are correct, I haven’t used that mantra for some time. It still holds true. However, they still don’t get satire. 😉

  3. Since Western oil companies control Saudi oil, why do they give the Saud family such a large share of the profits? Because that was the agreement following WWI? Since when does the US stick to any of its agreements? Rather than cancelling helpful agreements, the agreements with the Saud family regarding sharing of oil profits are what needs reconsidering.

    1. Western companies do not control Saudi oil. OPEC does. That’s why we had at the whole oil embargo in the 1970s where people waited in gas lines, etc.

      1. OPEC is a cartel. The member states control the oil fields. OPEC is a formal venue for them to decide on the allocation of production quotas to maintain the target price.

          1. No, OPEC is a diplomatic forum. It may have a monitoring apparatus but it does not make decisions apart from the will of its members, and decisions have to be more-or-less consensual.

  4. Trump wants the US congress to change libel laws, openly change laws on what political party can be charged with crime. Hand pick his jury. And calls to take away some news organizations licence. This is no laughing matter.

    1. FishWings – don’t we already hand-pick juries? Did I miss something when I was part of all those jury pools answering question? They don’t just take the first 12 people in the jury box.

        1. So what? Every president since 1933 (Truman and Eisenhower exceptions) sought to shape the Court through their legitimate discretion over appointments.

    2. Trump wants…

      Like every other President before him, the President can want whatever he wants. Campaigning is selling what he wants. Elections are a reflection of voter’s buying into what he wants. You made the point that this President looks to Congress to make law. They have the duty to pass the laws and to check the President to take care in enforcing those laws. Of course the President hand picks those jurists to fill openings in the court and Congress has a duty to advise and consent those nominations. Nothing new here. Your hysteria over this process is the joke.

      1. Lets see what you will do when a democrat President picks his or her jury on the SC. Quit pretending about how this is all normal. Trump’s case will go to the Supreme Court, and he is making sure of the outcome. But I’m sure you felt it was all normal when Republicans would not even have a hearing. Your a hypocrite and it shows.

        1. What you don’t seem to respect is the law. The operative word with regard to the supreme court is the president’s pick. His nomination does not go from the oval office to the bench. It must go through Congress under whatever rules they’ve adopted to advise and consent.

          I have no objections to the process that was followed to put Kagen and Sotomayor on the court. I have no objections to the process that resulted with putting Gorsuch on the court. The law has been followed. You agreeing with the law when it favors your wishes and opposing it when it doesn’t is the very definition of hypocrisy.

        2. Kavanaugh is well qualified. I understand now, reading your comment, why he is opposed. Really just because of Trump.

          I think maybe the crazy never-trumpers would bring down fire and brimstone just so long as they could see Trump suffer too.

  5. Religion leads only to tyranny, first of the individual and then entire societies.

    Fortunately in the United States, we don’t have religious nuts in elected office who want to use the government as a tool to impose warped versions of morality.

    1. Yet, most Western European countries co-operate with this by prosecuting as hate speech statements that offend (some) Muslims and many folks in the US advocate doing so in the US

      1. In Europe the incitement and hate speech codes give special protection against words that offend not just offend muslims but also jews. however, it’s always ok to offend Christians.

        hate crime is a similar concept: only applies to crimes committed by white men, never against them.

        see in the leftist simulacrum of reality, only white male hetero Christians (in any combination thereof) are capable of hate.

    2. Religion leads only to tyranny, first of the individual and then entire societies.

      I would agree religion can lead to tyranny. But your statement is the precursor to tyranny itself. You are essentially saying religion is bad for the individual and ultimately society, so something needs to be done to prevent that.Therefore we need to set laws against the freedom of conscience. Is there any historical evidence demonstrating a culture and/or a nation survived where they believed there was no power greater than government, greater than the rulers? The reality is any belief system that supports or enables the infringement of natural rights is in itself a belief in tyranny. The only belief system that needs to be banned is the one that places anyone above the rule of law.

    3. Religion leads only to tyranny,

      OK, you’re an utter ignoramus. How does it feel?

    4. i think it’s not quite that bad. I also think that religions here serve the state every bit as much as they are supposedly “separated” from it. Sometimes our Enlightenment fancies are more style than substance.

  6. Can someone tell me what they have over us that turns our presidents into pathetic little playthings of the Kingdom? I mean, do they have to carry out the next terrorist attack rather than just help finance it before we grow some balls and confront them?

    With Trump, it’s easy:
    Throw a bunch of investment money at him, give him the royal carpet treatment, and he’ll turn a blind eye to… just about anything.
    But what about Obama? I thought he had a little bit more of a backbone, but he helped start this war and carried it forward as it became an atrocity.
    We can do without them now when it comes to oil, so what else do they have on us? There’s gotta be something.

    1. Very good point. I suspect it has something to do with the Israelis. Although the Saudis aren’t friendly with Israel in public, behind the scenes they work together on common projects and the Saudis are no longer subscribing the the “annihilation of Israel” spiel. Were we to start giving a wedgie to the Saudis, they may decide to dis-invite Israel to the slumber party. Jus’ sayin.’

      to ears

    2. Trump has openly stated that he admires the way North Koreans sit up straight and clap forever when addressed by their supreme leader. Trump has stated that this is something he would like to see when he speaks. Trump’s man’s man wrote in his memoirs that one of his jobs was to precede Trump into a room to make sure everyone stood when Trump entered. Trump believes that he is the savior of the US from countless catastrophes, read his fish lips. So, why shouldn’t this narcissistic megalomaniac admire a situation where the punishment for not showing respect ranges from whippings to crucifixion to having your head lopped off. And, Trump probably owes lots of money to the Saudis and is looking forward to selling them many million dollar condos. You don’t bite the hand that squeezes. Plus it is human nature to respect the traditions of other countries when they are mega wealthy and to invade them when they are not.

    3. “Can someone tell me what they have over us that turns our presidents into pathetic little playthings of the Kingdom?”

      Saudi Arabia is one of our only allies in the Middle East, giving us geopolitical access to the region. There is also OPEC. The oil embargo of the 1970s was crushing to the average citizen who had to wait in gas lines. Every single thing we buy or service we use relies on gas to a degree. Electric vehicles cannot pull tractor trailers yet, and they are only as clean as the energy that fuels them. Many electric vehicles in the US actually run on coal power.

      Happily, we are positioning ourselves to rely less and less on OPEC, from alternative energy to domestic oil production. Alternative energy is not quite ready to replace fossil fuels, but one day, it will. Saudi Arabia is hyper specialized in basically a single export and industry. That reliance is its vulnerability. Once the oil runs out or is replaced, the money is gone. Their limited water is already almost gone, trying to farm wheat circles in the sand. They are the grasshoppers in Aesop’s fable, doing whatever pleases them with no real understanding of the future. When the money is gone, I believe that all modernizing efforts will evaporate. The Saudi princes live like hedonists in an Muslim extremist region, and their wealth helps them get away with it. Their wealth and power also helps some, like Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud , have been making efforts to drag the Kingdom forward. When the money is gone, their power will be gone, and imams will rule. As everywhere else, it will slide a few inches back into the Dark Ages. And make no mistake, MBS may be quite liberal compared to the rest of the dynasty, but he still operates with the belief that individuals do not have many rights in the Kingdom, and he may do as he pleases with them.

      1. maybe they know why our air farce stood down as their jihaadist hijackers steered airplanes hundreds of miles through the sky on 9/11

        or what that third buiding that never got hit just pancaked, yeah, wtc7. maybe the Saudis know the answers to these persistent questions and that’s why there were many pages in the “report” that were classified.

        there’s the real KOMPROMAT, perhaps? The Saudis having it, and maybe the Israelis have it too. Raimondo’s book asks a lot of good questions about them too. Just questions here, no answers. I wouldnt know the answers.

        Also, i did notice DJT STFU about Saudis before long; he had criticized them in the election.

        What do they have over our presidents indeed? A lot more than oil I think

        1. No, our Air Force was not complicit in 9/11. The FAA was found at fault for not notifying NORAD quickly enough.

        2. maybe they know why our air farce stood down as their jihaadist hijackers steered airplanes hundreds of miles through the sky on 9/11

          This is lunacy

  7. The most noticeable thing is that the leaders all wear tents on their heads. They look sooooo dorky.

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