With the coming into force of the EP’s new Rule 165, the President (or whoever presides over a session of the plenary or a committee at any time) will have the right to interrupt live broadcasting of the session in case of “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior” by a member. Furthermore, the president may decide, “to delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings” the parts in question.
Sounds Orwellian? An attempt to make unwelcome interventions un-heard, un-seen, un-happened? “Whoever controls the present controls the pat, whoever controls the past controls the future”? Well, obviously that’s what it is all about.
The new rule was apparently still drafted under the aegis of control freak and ex-EP-President Martin Schulz. Now it will aggrandize the powers of his successors.
The question is: what is “defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior”? Which are the scenes that will be withheld from us?
Before EPTV is closed down, let us review some of its highlights – and you will see what you will be missing:
First, of course the unforgettable scene that raised Martin Schulz, until then a nobody, to Europe-wide notoriety: Silvio Berlusconi compared him to an SS officer:
Schulz was visibly offended – but in fact he might as well have been grateful, given that this encounter gave a real boost to his career.
It was by the way not the last time that Schulz was called a Nazi (there seems to be something in his character or appearance that invites such comparisons):
The man describing Schulz as an undemocratic Fascist is Godrey Bloom, an MEP of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He was escorted out of the room for this.
But Schulz himself was not above insulting other people in the same way: It might be that the main motivation for Rule 165 is not to censure the speech of opponents, but to remove from the record scenes in which oneself has misbehaved:
Strangely, Schulz wasn’t escorted out – but then, that’s normal, as nobody really seems to expect leftist politicians to behave properly.
One of the apparent reasons for the new gag rule is that some politicians use videos from the EP to promote themselves. One politician specializing in this strategy is UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Here is his legendary insult against the freshly appointed President of the Council, Herman Van Rompuy:
Farage probably had planned this insult well in advance, precisely becaus it would make a good video. And indeed, the video went viral and made Farage a celebrity.
Here is again Farage, but this time rather in the role of victim. The man with the childish poster is a back bencher whose name we didn’t find out, but who, thanks to this action, wone five minutes of notoriety. Strangely, the President is reprimanding Mr. Farage, who seems to be acting within the margins of the acceptable, but not the other man, who clearly isn’t. Maybe this apparently unequal treatment is also something that the powers that be do not want citizens to see:
But one of the best scenes ever clearly is this one:
Believe it or not, the man wo is spinning totally out of control is a former Belgian minister of foreign affairs. With this behaviour it is no wonder the Belgians needed to get rid of him and instead sent him to the EP…
We suppose however that he must have been drunk, or under drugs, or both, and that nobody’s interest would have been better served than his own if the livecast had been interrupted.