Is being compared to Gollum offensive?

The Washington Post reports:

Left: ’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens to statements at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (Francois Mori/Associated Press). Right: Gollum in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Warner Bros.)

Turkish doctor Bilgin Çiftçi lost his job. He’s been put on trial. And whether he goes to prison hinges on one thing:

Is Gollum a good guy?

According to the Turkish news agency DHA, Çiftçi was expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey in October after sharing a meme comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the creepy creature from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Insulting the head of state is a crime punishable with jail time in Turkey, and Çiftçi was promptly put on trial after the meme was spotted in his Facebook feed.

But when he appeared in court, Çiftçi insisted that he hadn’t insulted anyone at all. For all his slimy skin and questionable syntactic habits, many say Gollum is not a villain. He may even be a hero. After all, it was he who freed Middle Earth from the tyranny of the ring by biting it off of Frodo’s finger and (albeit inadvertently) plunging with it into the lava roiling inside Mount Doom (spoiler!).

When Çiftçi’s lawyer Hicran Danışman challenged the chief judge for his reading of the complicated character, the judge admitted he’d only seen parts of the movies, according to the Istanbul newspaper Today’s Zaman.

With that, the judge called for an expert panel to determine whether Çiftçi’s defense is valid. The group will comprise two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions, according to Today’s Zaman. It has two and a half months to review to the evidence before the court reconvenes in February.

It would be hilarious if it was not so sad. Five experts to determine if being compared to Gollum is an insult.

But no country should have a law making it an offence to insult a politician.

UPDATE: Peter Jackson has entered the fray and said the photos are of Smeagol, not Gollum, and Smeagol is a god guy and hence it is not an insult! I love Peter Jackson for this!

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