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Is it okay to call a policeman an ant-f******? The high court says yes

Tuesday 15 May 2012

A homeless man has been cleared by the High Court of insulting a police officer by calling him a mierenneuker - literally ant-fucker - a term used in popular speech to describe people who stick obsessively to the rules.

The court said it depended on the context in which it is used whether or not the word should be considered swearing. Only if mierenneuker is used with the intention to insult or cause offence is it a swearword, the NRC quoted the High Court as saying.

The case dates back to 2010 when the man, known as Sietze J, called a policeman a mierenneuker for throwing away his can of beer. Lower courts ruled J had insulted the police officer and the case went to appeal.


Today's High Court ruling led to immediate protests from Christian Democrat MPs. 'It's an incomprehensible ruling,' said CDA parliamentarian Mirjam Sterk using the microblogging service Twitter. Madeleine van Toorenburg, one of the candidates for the CDA leadership, commented: 'Thing's should not get any more insane'

MP Coskun Çörüz is planning to ask justice minister Ivo Opstelten about the case.

'If you can call a police officer, one of the mainstays of the rule of law, an ant-f*****, then it worries me what you can call a teacher, a prison warder, a traffic warden or a social benefits officer,' Çörüz is quoted as saying by the Telegraaf.

The ruling undermines efforts to get tough on people who attack or insult police officers, emergency service personnel and government workers, he said.


In 2009, a 31-year-old man from Tilburg was fined €170 for insulting behaviour after wearing a t-shirt combining the word 'corrupt' with the police logo. People have also been fined for waving a middle finger (the Dutch equivalent to the two-fingered V-sign) at a police officer and calling a policeman 'homo'.

Last January, the High Court ordered the retrial of a man who was given a fine of €200 for wearing a jacket featuring the letters ACAB because it was insulting to the police.

The letters are said to stand for All Cops Are Bastards. Earlier, three other men were fined €330 each for wearing t-shirts with the numbers 1312 printed on them, which stands for the same thing.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

This is a glowing perfect example of an out of control police department and police management. Taking homeless people to court for calling them a silly name? This is REALLY a waste of time, money and energy. The police people that initiated this court battle do not deserve respect - they should be fired instead. Makes me angry to read this nonsense with all the news about how we are quickly running out of money for essential services.

By Bill | 15 May 2012 2:53 PM

Had anyone else thrown away that man's can of beer, they'd have probably got the same reaction but I certainly doubt that they'd have been taking the man to court. Total waste of taxpayer dollars. If it's a power trip they're after they should pick on someone their own size like real criminals who actually our streets unsafe.

By Michael | 15 May 2012 5:00 PM

I love how the English phrase is censored and the Dutch one with the same meaning is not :)

By George | 15 May 2012 6:04 PM

Where is our freedom of speech going? Now 1312 is offensive? From now on, I will sue ANYBODY wearing an orange shirt because it is offensive to me.... OMG!

By isaac | 15 May 2012 6:44 PM

I must admit that I like some of the expressions in the Dutch language.

This one is oh so commonly used:>

A petty person who makes a pointless fuss about insignificant details or issues, a nitpicker, a job's worth etc..

The only thing that worries me when I read articles like this one, is realizing the carefree & tolerant behaviour by police & other officials is on the decline. I think we should all lighten up a bit & learn how to laugh again, right? (Okay, WTF - whatever!)

By The visitor | 15 May 2012 7:40 PM

I moved to this country because I loved it so much during my many long-term visits, but it's as bad as the shyte that takes place in America with it's finest. The police here in the Netherlands are just the same. It is so sad for the Dutch Nationals to have to deal with constant chaining of rules and the ineffectiveness of the police. I am headed back to the states soon, and I am sure the police will serve as a constant reminder of the outrageous ways the police serve and harass it's citizens.

By Lee | 15 May 2012 7:57 PM

Perfect example of creating baseless drama! Happens everywhere to people from all fields of work.

By Maryam | 16 May 2012 5:31 AM

On a positive note: the Dutch term for this is so great! when I first heard this, I knew right away what it meant. Hilarious.

By Bill | 16 May 2012 7:05 AM

I trust he referred to a bull ant?
To add to the waste of money spent on this case, the court could have fined him to the value of his house!
He could have then been sent innumerable demands to cough up $0.00!!
It's happened to me ( but not for that reason!).

By theo orval | 16 May 2012 7:20 AM

Personally I think the man should have been condemned and fined. Policemen in Holland are normally very polite and finally somebody is trying to enforce the rules and stop a-social people from littering the streets and they must take insults? I don't think so. They are there to enforce our agreed laws and they should be respected.

By G.CT | 16 May 2012 7:49 AM

It is possible that MP got along with an ant (or even with a whole ant community).

By Andy Nechaevsky | 16 May 2012 8:14 AM

Well, technically the homeless man took everyone to court. He could have just paid the fine and moved on, no court would have been necessary. How a homeless man is going to PAY the fine? I have NO idea.....

By Stupid | 16 May 2012 10:51 AM

At least we still have fair judges, it would have been shocking if the court ruled against the homeless man - Salute to the Judge.

By Thy.Kantler | 16 May 2012 2:58 PM

thouhg I am very liberal and criticise NL a lot, I must agree with G.CT on this one. I find the police in NL very respectful and I personally think that it is unacceptable to insult police (anywhere in the world).It is not about persecuting a homeless, it is about maintaining boundaries of decent and social behaviour. By the way, I lived in the US and I found policy very respectful there too.

By the_expat | 16 May 2012 4:11 PM

It seems DN left the best part of the story out.
According to another news site, Sietze Jan has an identical twin called Jan Sietze: apparently there have been run-ins with the police before, but they've always had to let him go because they can never be sure if they have the right man or not. I love it!

By osita | 16 May 2012 5:35 PM

very good point Thy.K, thanks.

By Bill | 16 May 2012 5:47 PM

I would hate to be a policeman, they are unable to do there job because of political correctness and the courts/legal system not backing them up, they are dammed if they do and dammed if they don't, the police need to be a police FORCE and respected.

The man being homeless is a shameful example of the lack of social services & shouldn't be the responsibility of the police. This is what happens when a society goes crazy and is dominated by fascist politically correct bureaucrats.

May be some of our tax money could be spent on social services within the NL, instead of foreign aid & huge pay packets for bureaucrats.

By Phil | 18 May 2012 5:35 AM

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