Turkish YouTube ban unleashes the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast within

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 8 March 2007

Yesterday the internet was buzzing with the news that a judicial decision in Turkey had blocked access to YouTube for users in that country. Most people looked at it as part of an ongoing narrative of states trying to control what could be published on the internet, but I found the whole Greece / Turkey subtext of the story to be the most interesting part.

It seems that the offending videos on YouTube were user-generated content made by Greeks attacking Turks as homosexuals and denigrating Turkish founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which is against the law there. Digging around a few blogs reveals that they were being widely shared, and that a whole series of videos from both sides had formed part of a slanging match between the two nations.

Freedom of speech has been a major issue during Turkey's troubled attempt to join the EU, and you can't help feeling that the Brussels machinary will not look too kindly on an attempt to set up a brand new Great Firewall within Europe's borders. Users trying to visit YouTube from Turkey have instead been seeing blank screens.

Turkey blocks YouTube

To me it looks to be the most pyrrhic of victories. In my head I have a vision of the Turkish judges sitting back and reflecting on a job well done - I mean, after all, now it is only the Greeks and the whole of the rest of the world who can freely watch videos on the internet mocking Turkey.

For his Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy books the late, great, Douglas Adams invented the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. It was ferocious, but also incredibly stupid. The easiest way to escape it was to put some really dark sunglasses on, or a towel around your head, since it believed that if you couldn't see it, then it couldn't see you.

I can't help feeling it has something in common with the short-sighted Turkish judiciary.

1 Comment

I had a taste of this YouTube battle between Greece and Turkey when I posted a video on the fall of Constantinople. I can't say I cared much for either side. I wouldn't mind it so so much if those who commented had actually read any history.

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