Meme forces Turkish court to decide if Gollum is evil

Bilgin Ciftci, a doctor in Turkey, is in hot water after sharing an image on Twitter comparing the nation's president to Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies. Why? Because of a local law that protects, presumably, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's fragile ego, making it illegal to insult the nation's ruler in any way. The shared image is insulting, according to the government, and lead to Ciftci's arrest. Whether the charge holds, though, may depend on whether the image is really of Gollum and whether Gollum is evil.

It's a dumb court case and a colossal waste of time, but one that involves someone's freedom and is thusly worthy of attention. If found guilty of violating the law, Ciftci could be sentenced to two years in prison. All because of the image shown below:

Freedom of expression was quickly tossed aside by Ciftci's defense after going "nowhere," and so lawyer Hicran Danisman changed tactics, arguing that Gollum isn't a bad character, and so it can't be considered an insult to be compared to him.

As absurd as it sounds, the argument has led to the case's presiding judge calling for movie experts, psychologists and other to analyze the character and make a determination about his disposition.

The folks behind the Lord of the Rings movie have weighed in on the matter, with Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh issuing a statement about the character's, you know, character.

If the images [in question] are in fact the ones forming the basis of this Turkish lawsuit, we can state categorically: None of them feature the character known as Gollum. All of them are images of the character called Smeagol.

Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character. Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol. Smeagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself. He is not a bully. In fact he's very loveable. This is why audiences all over the world have warmed to his character.

SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly, Associated Press