I was intrigued to see an AP story about a Russian lawyer who wants to take The Simpsons to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France because he thinks the show spread a "propaganda of violence, cruelty, drugs and homosexuality." As my profile suggests, I have more than a passing interest in The Simpsons and the law, but this lawsuit sounds even less meritorious than Lionel Hutz's suit against the film "The Never-ending Story" for fraudulent advertisement.
A Russian court already dismissed a similar suit. I can only assume the reasoning of the Court went something like this. Plaintiff's allegation that a show with four-fingered yellow figures spreads violence is difficult to take seriously in a country with daily mob-hits and a war in the Caucasus that hasn't changed in
years centuries. Cf. Bart the General, 7G05 (detailing the schoolchildren's battle plan to attack the school bully using water balloons and the leadership tactics of Gen. Patton. Arguably, a Russian might take offense to any reference to General Patton, but general Russian nostalgia for the good old days of World War II should override any such concerns.). Similarly, while some might be threatened by an episode dedicated to erasing the stereotypes and hatred of homosexuals, generally this isn't one of the greatest human rights violations in history. Homer Phobia, 4F11. The show offers the occasional drug reference. See, e.g., A Milhouse Divided, 4F04 (showing school bus driver Otto's disappointment that "Stoner's Pot Palace" sells kitchenware); Sideshow Bob Roberts, 2F02 (Mayor Quimby watering the hemp plant in his closet); Bart's Dog Gets an F, 7F14 (showing hemp plant in Marge's family quilt); D'Oh-in the Wind, AABF02 (discussing Seth and Munchie's Garden Delight beverage). Passing references, however, do not constitute promotion. Had Plaintiff's complaint alleged promotion of alcohol use, he would have been on stronger ground for proceeding. See generally, Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment, 4F15; Duffless, 9F14 (showing the misery that accompanies those who give up beer, especially while watching a baseball game. Specifically, while at the ballpark, the following takes place:
Announcer: ...the windup and a 2-2 pitch. Oh, no, wait a minute, the batter is calling for time. Looks like he's going to get himself a new bat. And now there's a beach ball on the field, and the balls boys are discussing which one of them's going to go get it.
Homer: [only one not drinking] I never realized how boring this game is.).
Again, Russia is in no position to complain about drinking. Lastly, complaining about cartoon cruelty is like complaining about literary torture, but enough about The Da Vinci Code. More substantively, the cruelty on The Simpsons from the antics of Itchy and Scratchy is fairly balanced by the antics of their Eastern European counterparts, Worker Mouse and Kapitalist Parasite. Krusty Gets Kancelled, 9F19.