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This Guy Could Face Jail Time For Sharing A Meme

A team of Lord of the Rings 'experts' will determine whether a meme comparing the Turkish president to Gollum was supposed to be an insult.

I can't even make this sh-t up: Dr. Bilgin Çiftçi, a physician living in Turkey, is currently on trial after sharing a meme comparing the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Gollum from "The Lord of The Rings." Insulting the president is illegal in Turkey, and consequently, According to GQ, a team of "experts" including "two academics, two behavioral scientists/psychologists and a television/film expert" have been hired to determine whether or not Çiftçi was indeed trying to insult the president with the meme.

This is not an Onion article, but I wish it were, because someone's future is at stake -- if he's found guilty, Çiftçi faces up to two years in jail.


Because we really needed help sifting through this f--kery, MTV News spoke to Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Galperin noted that while Çiftçi did not create the meme, "criticizing the president of Turkey is against the law -- defamation of the president can get you sent to jail for up to four years."

It's terrifying, but not out of character for Erdogan, who's notorious for suing -- and jailing -- journalists who he feels were ~mean to him~.

If this all sounds like the melodramatic tantrum of an adult man tasked with running a country, that's because it is. But at its core, the case is pretty draconian. "I think it’s particularly significant in the context of the Turkish president’s crackdown on free speech and specifically on criticism of him," Galperin said.

For what it's worth, Peter Jackson, who directed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, the films' screenwriters, weighed in. Per their joint statement to The Wrap:

If the images below are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: none of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Sméagol," said Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens in a joint statement. "Sméagol is a joyful, sweet character. Sméagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Sméagol.

IDK, Turkey. Since J.R.R. Tolkein is very dead and therefore unable to comment, it seems to me like these guys are the best experts you're gonna get. Your move.