European Commission: Artists are free to ‘offend, shock or disturb’

5 November 2012
The European Union criticised Poland’s supreme court for allowing prosecutors to try Adam Darski, lead singer in the heavy metal band Behemoth, for illegal artistic expression.

At issue is the interpretation of Article 196 of the Polish penal code referring to “the crime of offending religious sensibilities.” While on stage in 2007, singer Adam Darski allegedly ripped pages from a Bible and referred to the Catholic Church as a ‘murderous cult,’ wrote the EU Observer.

The Polish court said prosecutors can charge Darski with a crime that potentially carries two years in prison. Jacek Potulski, Darski’s lawyer, noted the decision by the court “restricts freedom of speech. We are still arguing we are dealing with art, which allows more critical or radical statements,” he said.

In a statement, the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, cited the European Convention of Human Rights’ section on freedom of expression, noting, “This right protects not only information or ideas that are favorable received or regarded as inoffensive … but also those that offend, shock or disturb.”

Poland is a signatory to the Convention treaty. – 1 November 2012:
EU says artists are free to ‘shock’





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