German Of The Day: Fremdschämen

That means “external shame.” Second-hand embarrassment, that is, or feeling embarrassment for somebody else – especially when that somebody else is clearly somebody else who knows no shame. Like Gazprom Gerd (SPD), for instance.

Fremdschämen

Now we can cringe at him being in love with what will most likely be his fifth wife and read all about it in the Bunte even though there is no force in the universe that can make me do that but still.

“Wo Schröder inzwischen privat Pipelines verlegt, wissen wir seit September… Der Altkanzler und seine koreanische Freundin Soyeon Kim zeigen uns ihr großes Glück und verraten, wie sie ihre Zukunft planen. Wird sie seine 5. Ehefrau?”

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Hey, Your Bus Ticket Is Untied

And it smells funny, too. But that’s not all that out of the normal in Berlin, come to think of it.

Ticket

Adidas has some new sneakers that aren’t just made for walking—they’re for taking public transport, too. The German clothing giant has struck a deal with the Berlin transit authority, BVG, in which Adidas will sell 500 pairs of sneakers that have year-long 2018 tickets sewn into them. An annual BVG ticket for zones A and B, which cover everything within the capital’s borders, costs €761 ($930). The EQT Support 93/Berlin shoes, however, cost just €180.

The cool thing, I think: Now when the BVG bus is late (and it will continue to be late, don’t worry) you can run to work and most likely get there faster, too.

“Most buyers will put the sneakers in a showcase and not travel with them.”

More Censorship Fun

This time Germany’s way cool new censorship law (NetzDG or Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, if you prefer) has seen to it that a German artist’s works be effectively banned on Facebook and Instagram because, well, no one even bothered to explain why this time.

Barbara

That road sign up there is a form of hate speech, you see. If you look closely, I mean. It’s sexist, right? Or is it racist (the dark part)? I don’t know but something is definitely distrubing about it and I think that the nameless employee who pressed on the Censor Sensor Button or whatever it is they call it was right on the money. Better safe than sorry, I say. When it doubt, censor it out. It’s good to know Big Bruder is watching.

“Über das Löschen von Beiträgen entscheiden irgendwelche Angestellte von privaten Firmen im Auftrag von Facebook und Instagram, die im Schnellverfahren entscheiden und nicht einmal irgendwelche Gründe für das Löschen nennen. Ich sehe die Freiheit im Internet dadurch mehr als nur bedroht, sie wird aus meiner Sicht dadurch ruiniert.”

Heart-Warming German Children’s TV

Financed by the German Staatsfunk mafia, too.

Kika

It’s so cute or something. German children’s channel KiKa broadcast this touching love story between these two sixteen-year-old kids. One is a German, one is a Syrian refugee. Heart-warming, like I said. Especially once you realize that the Syrian is actually 20 (at least) and that he is also a big fan of German Salafist hatemonger preacher Pierre Vogel.

Young German girls are crazy about this kind of romantic stuff, I guess. And you got to give the people what they want, right? And they can’t be subjected to it early enough, I suppose. So it’s also heart-warming to know just where all those GEZ “contribution” euros go. Not that anybody can do anything about that or anything. Just saying.

Der syrische Flüchtling soll laut Angaben der Bild-Zeitung die offizielle Fan-Seite des deutschen Hasspredigers und Salafisten-Führers Pierre Vogel geliket haben. Vogel war Mitglied eines inzwischen aufgelösten salafistischen Vereins, der vom Verfassungsschutz beobachtet wurde. Er gilt als einer der einflussreichsten Prediger der deutschen Salafismusszene.

German Voters To Get What They Voted Out Of Office After All?

Oh boy. Everyone is so excited. I, for one, can hardly contain myself.

Back

Merkel is back (sure, she never left in the first place but still).

Schulz is back.

The GroKo is back.

Back to back.

Hey, once you go back you never go back.

Back to the future? Hardly.

What is it going to take to get them off my back?

German politicians have achieved a breakthrough in talks aimed at forming a new coalition government. A blueprint for formal negotiations was agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

Going, Going…

Gone.

CO2

Here’s another one of those well-intentioned-do-gooder-mandates-from-above-meeting-reality kind of things. Why is it that reality is always popping up its ugly little head all the time, anyway?

The two parties likely to form the next coalition government in Germany have agreed to give up on the country’s climate targets for 2020. The goal was to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels. In 2016, Germany’s had only reduced emissions by 28% versus the baseline (pdf), so the plan is now unrealistic.

There are two ways to interpret the announcement.

A charitable response would be that the news isn’t a surprise. Although Germany has made heavy investments in renewable energy, it has also been shuttering zero-carbon nuclear power plants since 2011. Giving up on the 2020 climate goals makes sense, especially if the coalition maintains the 2030 target of a 55% emissions reduction versus 1990 levels.

A harsher response would be that the news is devastating. “This damages the credibility of Germany but it also damages the whole international climate process,” Tobias Austrup, an energy expert at Greenpeace told the Financial Times. “Why should other countries stick to their climate goals if we don’t?”

Don’t The French Have A Hate Speech Law?

This could never happen in Germany. Not anymore. It’s simply too, too… Too hateful.

Women

French movie star Catherine Deneuve and other prominent French women say men are being unfairly targeted by sexual misconduct allegations and should be free to hit on women.

This #metoo hysteria is, well, hysterical. Think Hollywood show the other night (I won’t say which one). You know, the girls in black? Isn’t it strange, folks? Since when did so-called liberals get to become so puritanical?

“Women are sufficiently aware that the sexual urge is by its nature wild and aggressive. But we are also clear-eyed enough not to confuse an awkward attempt to pick someone up with a sexual attack.”

German Hate Speech Law Keeps Reaching New Levels

Of absurdity, I mean. Now satirical publications are up for grabs.

Fake

When a German neo-Nazi politician tweeted that German police were trying to “to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men,” her account was briefly suspended — but when the satirical magazine Titanic put up its own tweet mocking the Nazi, their account was suspended, too…

Prior to the law’s passage, free speech advocates warned that this would happen, and Angela Merkel personally promised it wouldn’t. It only took three days for the first case to come to light.

Government regulation in action. You know the deal, folks. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“The last few days have emphatically shown that private companies cannot correctly determine whether a questionable online statement is illegal, satirical or tasteless yet still democratically legitimate.”

Food For Thought Police

“Please spare us the thought police!” read a headline in Wednesday’s Bildzeitung.

Feige

As recently reported, the latest German censorship craze (exemplified by the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz or “Internet Enforcement Law”) is already being abused by those who would make us think what we are told. This type of thing never takes very long, of course. I read this in a book in high school once long, long ago in a galaxy far away. It was called 1984 or something. The book, I mean.

Anyway, this law… meant to curtail hate speech on social media in Germany is stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted. The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly. Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and blocked a satirical account that parodied Islamophobia.

But the case I really like is this one here: A German thought criminal had the audacity to criticize Germany’s reticence to support the protests in Iran and write “one could get the impression that Germany has become an unbelievably cowardly nation” in Facebook. This horrid example of hate speech was enough to get the user promptly blocked.

The outrage about this outrage about the other outrage (I’m running out of outrages) among the German population also remains rather reticent, to say the least. But they are law-abiding citizens, after all. The Germans. They don’t want to commit any thought crime or anything.

Einer der beiden Fälle betrifft Irina Schlegel (33), die Chefredakteurin des Kreml-kritischen Recherchemagazins „InformNapalmDeutsch“. Sie schrieb am 1. Januar im Zusammenhang mit der deutschen Zurückhaltung zu den Protesten im Iran: „Man bekommt den Eindruck, Deutsche sind eine unglaublich feige Nation geworden“. Zwei Tage später löschte Facebook den Post und sperrte die Verfasserin für drei Tage.

True Religion In Berlin

And no. It isn’t the one you might think it would be.

Christian

Only about one quarter of Berlin’s population belongs to one of the two big Christian denominations. The Lutherans take up roughly 16 percent of that number, the Catholics 9 percent. The numbers for both of these groups have dropped in recent years and will most likely continue to do so.

The number of Muslims in Berlin, on the other hand, countinues to rise and rise. They currently make up about 9 percent of the population.

Why does it feel like this is not really a news item? Duh. Because it isn’t. Hey, don’t get cross with me (cross, get it?). I’m just reporting what I read.

Nur noch ein Viertel der Berliner Einwohner gehört einer der beiden großen christlichen Kirchen an. Die evangelische Kirche kam Ende 2016 auf einen Anteil von 15,9 Prozent an der Bevölkerung. Bei den Katholiken waren es 9 Prozent.