No, seriously: Election jokes banned in Brazil

Do you have a whole list of killer Dilma Rousseff jokes you just can’t wait to try out on Brazilian television audiences? You’re out of luck:   With the first wave of on-air political ads starting Tuesday, Brazil’s comedians and satirists are planning to fight for their right to ridicule with protests in Rio de ...

EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images
EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images
EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images

Do you have a whole list of killer Dilma Rousseff jokes you just can't wait to try out on Brazilian television audiences? You're out of luck:  

With the first wave of on-air political ads starting Tuesday, Brazil's comedians and satirists are planning to fight for their right to ridicule with protests in Rio de Janeiro and other cities Sunday.

They call the political anti-joking law - which prohibits ridiculing candidates in the three months before elections - a draconian relic of Brazil's dictatorship era that threatens free speech and is a blight on the reputation of Latin America's largest nation.... Making fun of candidates on air ahead of elections is punishable by fines up to $112,000 and a broadcast-license suspension.

Do you have a whole list of killer Dilma Rousseff jokes you just can’t wait to try out on Brazilian television audiences? You’re out of luck:  

With the first wave of on-air political ads starting Tuesday, Brazil’s comedians and satirists are planning to fight for their right to ridicule with protests in Rio de Janeiro and other cities Sunday.

They call the political anti-joking law – which prohibits ridiculing candidates in the three months before elections – a draconian relic of Brazil’s dictatorship era that threatens free speech and is a blight on the reputation of Latin America’s largest nation…. Making fun of candidates on air ahead of elections is punishable by fines up to $112,000 and a broadcast-license suspension.

Only a few fines have ever been handed out. But Tas and others say that has been sufficient to cause TV and radio stations to self-censor their material during elections. The law holds that TV and radio programs cannot "use trickery, montages or other features of audio or video in any way to degrade or ridicule a candidate, party or coalition."

Let me get this straight. In Brazil it’s legal for candidates to run under names like DJ Saddam, Chico bin Laden, Kung Fu Fatty, and Second King of the Prawns, but not legal for comedians to make fun of them? Interesting. 

Anyone know any good Brazilian politics jokes? Leave them in the comments.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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