Belgian citizen files complaint against anti-Bush sticker

Kurt Carnier in Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws
Kurt Carnier in Belgian newspaper
Shortly before president Bush visited Belgium, a socialist youth organization distributed thousands of stickers showing the Stars and Stripes and the head of president Bush, with the text "Go ahead, piss on me!". The campaign was exposed and uncovered to the world by The Daily Standard in an article by Belgian publicist Paul Belien.

The article briefly mentioned that a citizen of Ghent had filed a complaint against people distributing the sticker. We now have more details about the identities of the plaintiff and of the defendants. The complaint was filed by 42-year old Kurt Carnier. Why did he do it? He explains his legal action in an email:
My father was a policeman during World War II, and for his activities in the resistance he received several medals. His brother survived a concentration camp but suffered severe physical problems for the rest of his life. Look at the huge number of graves of American soldiers, sometimes of age 17 or less, who gave their lives for our freedom. I am really ashamed to be a Belgian after this humiliation and insult to a friendly nation that has helped us. It was not their war, but still they gave their lives to protect our democracy.

I had the honor of doing my military service in Kleine Brogel [LVB: air base in Belgium where US nuclear weapons are being stored] , where I served under U.S. command in the US Air Force Munitions Support Squadron (MUNSS) 7361. There, I learned a lot about the way of thinking of the American soldiers. I was treated very well and I made many friends.

I have informed the US Embassy in Belgium about this disgraceful campaign, and I have offered them my apologies on behalf of all non-radical Belgians. I hope that the Embassy will join me in my complaint against this defamation of the flag and of the nation.



Valentina Gatti
Valentina Gatti
Carnier's complaint is aimed at the Flemish Socialist Party ("SP.A"), at the Young Socialists ("Animo"), and at Valentina Gatti, a member of Animo. Gatti was shown on television, distributing some 5,000 stickers in and around the city of Ghent. Allegedly she fixed many stickers to toilets in bars, restaurants, pubs and public places, without the consent of the owners.

According to Carnier's attorney, Mr Luc Boxstaele, the complaint was based on a law dating from 1852, prohibiting insults against foreign heads of state. However, this law was recently abolished in an effort to simplify the legal system and administrative requirements, a campaign called Kafka. The abolition of the law was published in the Belgian State Gazette (comparable to the Federal Register in the US) less than two days after Carnier had filed his complaint.

So the legal basis for the complaint has now become weak, if not void. As Belgian blogger and former attorney Francis Devriendt puts it in a comment:
Under Belgian law, when a law is made more severe, it can never be invoked retroactively. But when a law is made less severe or when it is abolished, the modification has to be taken into account in court even for facts which happened before the modification. So if a judge would have to decide on this case (which will never happen, because the District Attorney is also aware of this principle), he would have to declare the defendants 'not guilty'.

On my Dutch-language (or "Flemish", as some like to call it) blog, I commented on the moral ground for this complaint:
Yes, American soldiers gave their lives in both World Wars, so that political groups of all kinds would be free to express their opinion freely. Opinions that are offensive to friendly governments or friendly heads of state, should be allowed to be expressed freely.

Yes, I find the sticker disrespectful, but, as the great American journalist Henry L. Mencken once wrote (hat tip to Paul Belien for this quote):
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

The Young Socialists may be scoundrels, but we should defend their freedom of expression, so that our own (in my case, anti-socialist) freedom of expression is not hindered. I want to be free to make and distribute a "Piss on Castro!" sticker, if and when I want to. Of course, I would agree that I am not allowed to fix it to walls or toilets without permission of the owner. However, the complaint filed by Mr Carnier only mentions the law prohibiting insults against foreign heads of state, and not the damaging or disfiguration of property.

Kurt Carnier can be contacted by e-mail at Captainkurtje@hotmail.com


Reacties

#18096

[email protected]

 

Great job Kurt, I am with you, SPA people in our poor Belgium should realise that the USA'ers
are part of our economy. Got something to say then do it open not sneaky childisch by putting
stickers in toilets?

i also given away those stickers, gooo animo

did you know that even socialism isn't allowed in the USA. Poor victims of Katrina do not have an accurance, because everything is privatesized. (liberalism)

p.s the usa need us more then we do they

that is correct when this debate was over the working usa people in belgium. but it isn't. this debate is over the way bush is making war on iraq, and that is something else. I'am a socialist but i like american's, that is not a bad thing. But 1 thingh I must say about WWll.

The USA came to our aid because the communist (stallin) was marching into Europe. Because the Kapitalist (USA) didn' like this, they came and help us. Before that, the USA was selling weapons to each side, nazi's, japanese and allies.It weren't the americans that saved us, but the russians in the battle of stallingrad, cause there is were the war turned over in a allied victorie. But We must be fair and say that the americans are brothers for life, and we own them allot, because nobody like's to hear his son died in a war who wasn't his.

#5999

Patrick V.D.B. Pattaya Thailand

 

Great job Kurt, I am with you, SPA people in our poor Belgium should realise that the USA'ers

are part of our economy. Got something to say then do it open not sneaky childisch by putting

stickers in toilets? They should had put a sticker from Bin Laden, then they would have to go to

court for "Racist"? Then we had a problem with the so called "allochtonen" or whatever

those "profiteurs" are called. Keep up the good work and we will come back to our home

country when all those ....are send back to their home countries

#5903

Carnier.kurt

 

Oeps !!

#5901

JVS

 

Hey Kurtje, dit is een Engelse blog hee jongen.

(just told our friend Kurt that he has to watch his language on this high-quality blog)

#5887

Carnier.kurt

 

Aftreden zeg ik dat ganse boeltje rode gedoe dat ze hun verantwoordelijkheden opnemen er zijn er al voor minder moeten opstappen.En dat ze het niet konden geloven dat er zo een reactie zou komen van de Verenigde Staten wat zitten die kluivers daar dan te doen met ons belastinggeld

als ze de geschiedenis van de Verenigde Staten nog niet kennen en hoe zij voelen over hun vlag dat ze dan maar toiletten gaan schoonmaken daar zijn ze toch het best in (ze te bevuilen toch)En maar liegen dat ze van niks weten terwijl ze bij Van De lanotte worden verdeeld en gemaakt.

Je kan ze bestellen op hun spa site Gratis per 50 stuks tuurlijk het is ons belastinggeld word wakker allemaal en stop met slapen !!!

300 000 werknemers die voor de Amerikanen werken in Belgie omzet export 226 milj. dollar en wij gaan daar een beetje op plassen wie is hier volslagen gek ?

Ik ben die communisten zo beu als koude pap (spa)

En dan maar zeggen dat het Vlaams belang onze economie schaad je moet maar durven !!

#5806

Barbara

 

@ Lieven: I am sorry to say that I am not an expert on the history of WWII, except one small part. The United States was not "sitting" on the sidelines. There was an active, massive war effort and preparation going from the time Hitler invaded Poland. One small aspect of this was the delivery of planes and military equipment to the South Pacific, especially Australia but also to the Phillipines. My grandfather, who was just 40 and too old to volunteer for the regular military, flew several planes to that region during this pre-war time. He died in a crash on one of these missions in June 1941 at the age of 42.

Americans at that time knew that it was only a matter of time before they went to war and I am sure much has been written about why Roosevelt waited. But being attacked was as compelling then as it is now and if he intended to wait much longer, the Japanese attack changed that thinking.

By the way, I believe in this round is was a Belgian who drew the WWII card. Mr. Carnier is a citizen of Ghent. Speaking for myself, while I appreciate his sentiments, Mr. Carnier should leave the Socialists in peace to do what they do best. Perhaps while they are preoccupied, Conservatives can get a thing or two done.

#5793

VisualHugo

 

@DOF: this is clearly a case of free piss.

The only clear point here is damage to public property. And the sticker doesn't bear a 'responsible editor' statement as required by Belgian Law. Points enough to be made here, but *not* free speech.

#5778

Outlaw Mike

 

Oh yeah, I also forgot that the racist bigot Bushitlerchimp apparently protected US soil for over three years now from a 9/11 sequel, prevented civil war in Malagasia by openly supporting the elected President Ravalomanana against old crocodile Ratsiraka, appointed a black woman Secretary of State and boosted the fight against aids with 15 billion US$.

Frans Groenendijk: "A few days before his suicide he still suggested that he could convince the Americans to join forces against the USSR but he had no chance."

I suggest you read "Die Katakombe" by Uwe Bahnsen and James P.O'Donnell (1975 Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, translated into Dutch as "De Fuehrerbunker"). Apart from the fact that I'm not sure what it is exactly you want to say, I don't recall Hitler ever saying something like that. IIRC, it was Goebbels who played with the idea several times. Hitler was much more realistic about such a folly.

#5776

Outlaw Mike

 

An athlete who wants to compete in the Tour de France should be training long before June. Students for, say, civil engineering, should be rehearsing well before June.

In both cases one should be well prepared in order to succeed.

What Frans Groenendijk is trying to tell us is that if the athlete gives an advice to the student to start preparing for the Big Thing in time, the student doesn't have to heed that advice since competing for the Tour and doing math exams are very different things. Ditto the student vs. the cyclist.

"...unlike Bin Laden Hitler was never encouraged and supported by the US administration to fight a war to another opponent of the USA."

This is another bogus argument. Frans is unfamiliar with the concept of "time frame". Or rather, he does his utmost best not to take it into account. If UBL has ever been supported by the US of A, it was in a time with vastly different power balances and with prominent threats which came from totally different corners, while the threats we know today were back then not even looming at the horizon.

I remember very well that when I was a student in Ghent in the mid-eighties, I was a Saddam supporter. Why? Because Saddam was the secular strongman who stood up to that crazed freak in Teheran. Saddam was not known for his crimes yet and that raving black-clad idiot Khomeini had violated International Right by occupying the US Embassy and illegally taking 52 Americans hostage.

(now that come to think of it, I don't recall mass demonstrations in the West protesting that hostagetaking. That would have been different methinks if the US had occupied Irans Embassy in the States and held 52 Iranians hostage. But I digress.)

Anyway, the big conundrum of that time, the Cold War, was solved by another Great President by the name of Reagan, and Frans, who then maybe just had grown out of his short pants, was undoubtedly also calling the President of the States a dimbulb. Twenty years have gone by, a situation different in circumstances but equal in nature has developed and once again a US President is ridiculed and spit upon by the likes of Frans. And all this while two horrible regimes have been decapitated, three democratic elections have taken place in "occupied" countries, Libya has given up its WMD program, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco are experimenting with democratic reforms and, to top it all off, Mubarak has annonced he will change Egyptian Constitution so that other candidates than himself can run for the Presidency in September.

All of this in a little more than three years... Meanwhile morally superior politically correct car-keying persons of diversity and tolerance are pissing on Bush stickers in urinals. Congratulations you fools.

#5774

Joe

 

@ David R. Block: Gannongate is about corruption of journalists, orchestrated by the republicans. A corruption that could have influenced the elections.

The fact that Gannon is gay has nothing to do with it, except that neocons are shocked by this gay/escort business side rather than the whole political scandal. Where is the democrat equivalent of Kenneth Starr? :-) There's tons of more rubbish here than with poor Clinton.

#5773

Frans Groenendijk

 

Jeff wrote: "Similarly, few people here realized what a menace Islamic terrorism was until September 11. In both 1941 and 2001, the US suddenly awoke to the threat because of a surprise attack on our territory. The interesting difference is that most Europeans realized fascism was a huge danger considerably before 1941 (for obvious reasons), but now it is more than three years after 2001 and many still do not seem to see the threat. And the Islamic terrorist menace is actually greater in one sense. There was never much possibility of Hitler getting nuclear weapons. But it's almost inevitable that the Islamic terrorists will acquire them, unless we take strong pro-active measures to prevent it."

I disagree with almost every piece of what you say here but my main objection is to the idea that we can really learn a lot from WWII and the years immediately preceding it: the difference are to big.

To mention one of them: unlike Bin Laden Hitler was never encouraged and supported by the US administration to fight a war to another opponent of the USA. A few weeks ago I saw the German movie "der untergang" showing how Hitler in his last weeks. A few days before his suicide he still suggested that he could convince the Americans to join forces against the USSR but he had no chance. I can go on to elaborate on this comparison and we will decrease the already small chances to even get our difference of opinions more clear.

#5772

dof

 

@Dave

Pray to leave the care and feeding of our resident troll to its handlers.

#5770

David R. Block

 

Gannongate is not about republicans and bloggers. Gannongate is about LEFTIE bloggers outing a gay guy because he is on the right. THAT has been more of the story than his fake credentials.

Gannon veered from the gay left plantation, and the left bloggers are going to make sure he is punished as an example.

#5769

Joe

 

I'm not surprised that this blog is not reporting about GANNONGATE. Although it's about republicans and bloggers, 2 subjects that are not irrelevant on this blog.

http://www.reuter...

It looks like a stinking republican affair where most probably Karl Rove was involved. Needless to say more!

Talon News is "being redesigned", but Jeff's blog is still alive:

http://www.jeffga... (no you won't find male escort classifieds here, for this uncle Jeff has another site!)

#5764

Outlaw Mike

 

Lieven: "I don't see anything in your texts that contradicts my "facts"."

I do. You state that "The US didn't declare war on Germany but was quite content to sit on the side lines until in December 1941 Germany declared war on them"

Roosevelt had long before realized that war with Nazi Germany was inevitable and was in fact looking for a pretext to start it. I call that something vastly different from "sitting on the sidelines".

Just like GWB now, Roosevelt was not a warmonger. He simply understood that if left in power, a vicious regime that had swallowed the whole of Europe and denied its populations basic human rights, would have to be defeated sooner or later. Not only because the Nazis trodded everything the US and its Constitution stood for with iron-spiked boots but lest it not, having acquired Europes industrial and scientific basis, finally become a threat for the States itself.

"BTW, do you think the US would have declared war on Germany if Hitler hadn't beaten them to the punch, something which he wasn't obliged to do under his treaty with Japan?"

I certainly do. Like I said, far from "sitting on the sidelines" the US government was merely waiting for a pretext. This is proven by the fact that only hours after Germany declared war on the US, on December 11, the US did the same towards Germany. Besides, there was already a virtual state of war between the two, the respective declarations only formalized it.

#5763

dof

 

@VH

Free speech is there not only for Laurent "Go ahead, piss on me" Winnock and Valentina "Golden Showers" Gatti, but also for everyone else. If I go relieve myself, I shouldn't be forced to piss on an American flag.

#5761

Lieven

 

@Michael Cosyns: I don't see anything in your texts that contradicts my "facts". US neutrality was indeed a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" pretext affair both for domestic and international reasons. Those torpedo boats were part of the general Lend Lease program although predating the actual Act.

(From http://www.ww2pac... : Fifty older destroyers were transferred to Britain 3Sep40 in a trade for leases on British bases, thus predating the official lend lease program of free material aid.) Regarding the second part, I'm very much aware that U-boats didn't do much in the Pacific. The whole point of the US strategy was to help the UK so that the German navy didn't have the resources to get involved in the Pacific.

BTW, do you think the US would have declared war on Germany if Hitler hadn't beaten them to the punch, something which he wasn't obliged to do under his treaty with Japan?

#5758

Outlaw Mike

 

@VH: thanks, got that bookmarked.

Lieven: "The US didn't declare war on Germany but was quite content to sit on the side lines until in December 1941 Germany declared war on them. Until that point the US was nominally neutral and any aid they had given the UK was in the form of loans (Lend Lease Act). Once they were attacked by Japan, however, they certainly didn't want the German U-boats helping the Japanese in the Pacific so taking the war closer to Germany was in their own strategic and tactical interests..."

Get your facts straight dude. Prior to Pearl Harbor the US had already delivered 50 torpedo boats to the UK in clear violation of its neutral status. In August 1940 a US Navy delegation under Admiral Ghormley arrived in London to fine-tune naval cooperation. On June 20nd there was a skirmish between the USS Texas and the U 203, on September 4 between the US torpedo boat Greer and the U 652.

What you say is nonsense. Roosevelt very clearly understood the inherent evil nature of Nazism and wanted the US to declare war to Germany. Public opinion in the States was very much against US partivipation, and the most vocal pressure group was the "America First" Committee composed of hard core Isolationist Republicans (I think you have these today too, Buchanan e.g.?) and loonlylefty pacifists (nothing new under the sun). The most prominent spokesman for "America First" was aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, who had accepted a Nazi medal and who was fool enough to believe that the European states had a shared responsibility for starting World War II. Once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the "America First" movement was quickly disbanded.

The second part of your argument is blather too. U-boat activity in the Pacific was virtually nonexistent or in any case negligible. They had no intention to go there as the Atlantic was the crucial battlefield for German submarines.

#5757

Jeff in Oregon USA

 

To Lieven and Frans -- sometimes people don't easily recognize a danger until it hits them personally. If the US had given Europe more help fighting Nazism earlier in World War II, during 1939-1941, then the war might have been shorter and less bloody for all countries. Instead, many Americans did not see what a menace fascism was -- until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Similarly, few people here realized what a menace Islamic terrorism was until September 11. In both 1941 and 2001, the US suddenly awoke to the threat because of a surprise attack on our territory. The interesting difference is that most Europeans realized fascism was a huge danger considerably before 1941 (for obvious reasons), but now it is more than three years after 2001 and many still do not seem to see the threat. And the Islamic terrorist menace is actually greater in one sense. There was never much possibility of Hitler getting nuclear weapons. But it's almost inevitable that the Islamic terrorists will acquire them, unless we take strong pro-active measures to prevent it.

Due to freedom of speech, Ms. Gatti and her associates have the right to trumpet their own asininity with their stickers -- though certainly not to stick them on other people's property without the owner's consent! Nevertheless I greatly appreciate Mr. Carnier's words and actions. Though he did not succeed in court, he succeeded in striking a blow for better transatlantic relations.

#5756

JTHC

 

I am a Bush supporter, but I agree that people shouldn't be punished for criticizing him. I am happy to hear that Belgians still acknowledge American sacrifice during the war, but that in no way obligates anyone to withhold criticism.

I do want to say that this particular form of criticism is very petty and asinine. Eight million people in Iraq and eight million people in Afghanistan recently voted, almost all for the first time in their lives, and all thanks to the efforts of Bush, and all the Belgian critics can do is fabricate urinal stickers? If you're going to exercise freedom of speech, at least have the decency to say something worthwhile!

#5755

Frans Groenendijk

 

would have been attacked, sorry

#5754

Frans Groenendijk

 

I would like to add to and nuance the contribution of Lieven.

First the nuancing part.

I don't like the tone where (if) it should imply that the US-admiistration of more than 60 years ago (!) is to blame for not going to war to Germany earlier. I really dislike that. Allthough I was born in 1953 I can say I feel really grateful towards the US-soldiers who risked their lives (amd lost it) fighting the nazis. I salute those soldiers that are still alive.

I am grateful to Roosevelt too. But that is my point. I learned in school and never found something close to refuting it, that Roosevelt had a hard time in convincing his fellow-Americans to declare war on Germany. How could we blame the US-citizens for not being eager to send thousands and thousands of their young men to European battlefields?

But the idea that Roosevelts efforts should somehow reflect on the deeds of mr Bush: it is hard not to use insulting words to comment on that.

Imagine the way Roosevelt should have been attacked when he was running for POTUS against George Dubya! Much stronger than Kerry was attacked.

#5752

Lieven

 

Since the US lobby once again draws the World War II card, perhaps a little history refresher. The US didn't declare war on Germany but was quite content to sit on the side lines until in December 1941 Germany declared war on them. Until that point the US was nominally neutral and any aid they had given the UK was in the form of loans (Lend Lease Act). Once they were attacked by Japan, however, they certainly didn't want the German U-boats helping the Japanese in the Pacific so taking the war closer to Germany was in their own strategic and tactical interests. Western Europe should certainly be grateful to the US for their part in our liberation but that doesn't oblige us to a perpetual state of vassalage.

#5751

VisualHugo

 

@Michael: if Kurt would win his case, the signal to the US would be worse. It would mean we limit free speech. Read the 1st Amendement oto the US Consitution in the Bill of Rights (http://www.archiv...).

The scoundrels, you know ;-)

#5749

Outlaw Mike

 

I think I'll have to echo first Luc and then Tom/CA here.

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

So YES, the scoundrels of the Socialist Party, their Youth Movement "Animo", Laurent Wittock, Valentina Gatti and whatever §%ù*+~(^è!?ç#@&;?!!!! dimbulb is on the apparatchik payroll have the RIGHT to defame the nation which twice sent out its sons to die for them.

As for Kurt, I don't care if his case becomes void through the abolition of this law yes or no, as a signal his complaint can count. Kurt has saved our honour. Luc too, for helping to get his story out. Kurt, if you are reading this: goed gedaan makker!!!

#5742

LVB

 

@dof: There is no civil part in this case.

#5737

dof

 

Francis' comments are only relevant to the criminal portions, the civil parts of the sentence remain unaffected.

In the case the judge orders Laurent en Valentina to physically remove all the stickers without delay, the sentence will hold up.

There's precedent, it would appear:

http://oud.refdag...

#5733

Tom J. Claremont, Ca

 

I think Kurt knew the Complaint wouldn't fly. But I as an American, I appreciate his efforts. It's like "throwing them 'bows" in a basketball game. He jabbed an elbow into Valentina Gatti's ribs, just so she knows where he's coming from.

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