Spanish government attempts to ban memes

A PLAN by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) government to ban the use of memes in the country met with an immediate and comical backlash on social media on Thursday, November 10.

The scheme was put before Congress and would see restrictions placed on “spreading images that infringe the honour of a person,” referencing a 1992 law that is now outdated due to the emergence of the internet.

PP politicians want the new ruling added to the unpopular Citizen Security Law, which was introduced in 2015 and places curbs on public protests, social media commentaries and disrespecting the police. It has been referred to as “the gag law” by critics.

They may not find it so easy, however, since they hold only 137 of the 350 available parliamentary seats after the PP finally received approval for a second term thanks to support from liberal party Cuidadanos, leaving Rajoy with the weakest mandate in Spain’s recent political history.

Free speech champions view the scheme as an attack on humourous political commentary, and Spain’s Platform for the Defence of Freedom of Information said: “We are worried about this reform because internet does not require special laws; the same rights and duties should exist online as offline.”

Carlos Sánchez Almeida from the Platform in Defence of Freedom of Information said: “If the plan is to clamp down on any publication of images without consent of the individual, the popular activity of using memes to generate political or social criticism would become dangerous.”

Amusingly, minutes after the news emerged, Twitter users published a string of memes ridiculing the proposals, alongside the hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia.

Here are some examples:

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