Lately, whenever we’ve wound up covering stories out of Spain, they’ve been related to the Catalan independence movement. Today, however, the lens swings away from that region and back to Madrid. There was a concert held there recently by various artists including a rap musician named Josep Miquel Arenas, better known as Valtonyc. The show was informally considered a “farewell performance” because, barring success in a last minute appeal, Arenas is heading off to prison for a few years. His crime? He insulted the king, among other things. (WaPo)
The headliner tonight was Josep Miquel Arenas, 24, the artist known as Valtonyc, recently convicted of three crimes: glorifying terrorism, committing serious insult to the monarch and making a threat against a Majorcan politician.
Regarding the last charge, Arenas called Jorge Campos — a prominent leader of a local nationalist group — a fascist, an everyday slur in Spain, and sang that he “deserved a nuclear bomb.”
Campos said he felt his life was in danger.
In his defense, the rapper asked, “Do I look like someone who has access to plutonium?”
This short video montage from the Washington Post will bring you up to date on the singers who have run afoul of the law in this fashion.
This story fits in with a number of other reports out of Europe that we’ve been debating here and it serves as a good reminder of some of the fundamental differences between life in the United States and what’s seen in more “socialist leaning democracies” on the other side of the pond. Just recently we talked about socialism in Norway, so beloved by some liberal columnists. They wear the trappings of democracy and capitalism as long as it suits them, but those are not rights as we know them. They are gifts from the government which can be taken away at any time.
Spain is a different breed, of course, but many of the same lessons still apply. Things have absolutely gotten better since the demise of Francisco Franco and much was made of that nation’s impressive “transition to democracy.” But under the hood, there’s plenty of the old monarchy and even the Second Spanish Republic collecting dust in their laws. The parliamentary government they have now calls most of the shots, but the monarchy is still in the background. The fact that there are not only rules on the books forbidding speech deemed insulting to the monarch but people willing to enforce those rules in 2018, is all you really need to know about Spanish democracy. It’s far more window dressing than substance and their views on fundamental human rights are markedly different than what you’ll find in America.
Should other countries be protesting the imprisonment of these musicians? Probably so, but only on an informal, diplomatic level. Spain remains a sovereign nation and a very old one at that. They have their own issues to settle, including how harshly they will come down on the Catalonians if they continue to press for more independence. When all is said and done, it’s only the people of Spain who can decide how they wish to be ruled and how much freedom they deserve. As Mencken once said, in the end, we all get the government we deserve.