P.O. Box 2122, CH - 8031
Zurich, November 23rd 1995
Dear friends of bad taste
In Switzerland our non-budget-video BLUTGEIL had the dubious privilege of being chosen by state's attorneys as a "pilote case" for Article 135 of swiss criminal code.
Established 1990 despite public resistance by artists fearing political abuse because of its woolly phrases, this article prohibits "portrayal of violence capable to violate the human dignity of the viewer and without having a desirable scientific or cultural value".
Since the state's attorneys in all the years since 1990 didn't have the guts to start proceedings against a commercial company with money and lawyers behind them, they immediately lodged an appeal when our video was ruled free by the district-court last year, declaring their urgent need for a precedent of article 135 and that for this they're willing to go to the very last court no matter what price.
The next court ruled us guilty and the video including the master-tape to be burned! We now have to pay fines and costs of over 20'000.- US$. Since we don't have that money, we'll all probably have to go to jail for a month.
The verdict deals with terms like
Of course our film was the prime example for the latter category. So it was ruled being a piece of art "not worthy being protected" nor "preserved" (p 23), but "to be destroyed" (p 35).
In the written verdict the judges carefully eliminated even more openly fascistoid phrases like "culture must be positive" or "art must be capable of winning a majority", plus the embarrassing confession that their verdict in fact was a "highly subjective" one - sentences from the oral verdict that had been critisized also in the conservative press.
Although we even might have some chances before the next court, we decided not to lodge an appeal since we don't have time nor money to fight a precedent for the next three or five years of our lives, and unfortunately the state's attorney still doesn't seem wise enough to realise that our non-budget underground-comedy is the wrong object for a precedent anyway, but insists on going through all courts even if we would win next time. So now might be our very last chance to stop the whole thing before we'd probably have to pay 100'000.- US$ or more (in fact it's our first chance anyway.)
And although because of some circumstances (like for example the involvement of the political police) this sentence seems to be intended and in fact can be interpreted as a professional ban against us as independent artists respectively as a threat only to produce "positive art" capable to please the authorities from now on, we do not plan to do so. If we would have decided to live without freedom of expression we could have killed ourselves years ago. Hope we won't loose our wit in the future.
We also hope that despite of its rather serious topic our video-documentary will make you laugh more than once, and not only about our poor english. If you could write something about it and send us the clippings and/or let other interested people know, please do it.
We still believe the most effective weapon against censorship is information an not letting them get away without anybody noticing it. If you know other adresses and contacts which might be of interest for us, let us know. We'll probably need them badly if somewhen we'll be forced to go to permanent exile.