There seems to be a certain confusion out there about the law concerning Netflix’s decision to drop Hasan Minhaj’s show. Of course they should have dropped it, it’s ludicrous to think that they shouldn’t have. For do note what they did. They didn’t not show it in the US. It is available for all sorts of people to see in all sorts of places. The one place it cannot be shown is in Saudi Arabia. On the grounds that it breaches Saudi Arabian law. And here’s the thing about this – Saudi Arabia gets to decide what the law is in Saudi Arabia. That’s actually what being a country means.
This therefore is drivel:
All it took was some mild criticism of the Saudi royal family for Netflix to go down on bended knee to the Saudi authorities and pull the offending episode of a comedy series due to be shown there. This capitulation to censorship tells you all you need to know about the streaming company, best known for its hit drama, The Crown. The episode in question featured an American comedian, Hasan Minhaj, mocking the official Saudi version of what happened inside their consulate in Istanbul last October, where the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. It also criticised the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the war in Yemen. Despite dropping it, Netflix shamelessly insisted: “We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide.” Weasel words after doing the bidding of a regime that can’t take a joke. The laws the Saudis used to lean on Netflix are similar to the ones they use to jail political and human rights activists for criticising the government.
Sure those laws are similar and we can all decry them as much as we like. But now to the important question. Netflix should have broken Saudi Arabian law, should it?
To change the example, there’s a certain furore going on over in the US about Russian interference in the American presidential election. US law states that foreigners shouldn’t do that. Near anything is fair game if done by Americans concerning an American election. Foreigners don’t get that right. For example, I as a foreigner cannot donate to the campaign funds of someone running in an American election. Should I, as a foreigner, abide by American law on this? Sure I should. It’s American law applying in America, up to them what laws they make, even about what I can do. They can’t stop me doing what I damn well like over here but they’ve a just and righteous ability to limit what I do there.
This is also known as sovereignty, that very definition of being a country. The peeps there get to make the laws there.
Or another example, when Elton John’s husband decided to share a paddling pool of olive oil with another musical gentleman this could not be reported in English newspapers as a result of a court order. It could be reported in Scottish newspapers. The English papers obeyed English law and at least one Scottish newspaper enjoyed the privilege of being able to publish. This is how it should be, no? People in England obey English law, those in Scotland Scottish.
So, what happened here with Netflix and Hasan Minhaj’s show? Saudi Arabian law said that it could not be shown in Saudi Arabia. Netflix obeyed, in Saudi Arabia only, Saudi Arabian law. We would have it some other way how?
Anyone really want a world in which we don’t obey foreign law when in foreign? For think what will happen when foreigners don’t obey our when they’re in our?