GREATER BADDOW – It is not often that the Emperor issues any kind of executive directive, known in Essexia as the ‘Imperial Decree’—they are so rare that in 3 years, only 9 have ever been issued. This makes the intervention from the Imperial Residence today regarding racism within the country especially significant.
Following the ‘Great Essexian Meme-off’, Essexia had faced criticism both domestically and internationally for not intervening in preventing some of its citizenry from positing highly offensive memes, often racist and transphobic in nature. Worried about the country’s image after receiving a series of complaints about the conduct of Essexia and some of its ministers, Emperor Terry sought to improve the country’s image by reaffirming Essexian values of inclusivity and equality by condemning bigotry in what was his 9th Imperial Decree. It read;
I reaffirm my Commonwealth and Parliament’s commitment to the Seventieth Article of the Constitution which states that “Essexian society shall rest upon the principle of total equality regardless of gender, sexuality, race, colour and creed.” Bigotry has no place in Essexia and recent instances of racism and transphobia within our nation are deplorable and to be utterly condemned.
There is a fine line between productive debate about social issues and the ridiculing of them through offensive comments, even in a satirical nature. No previous offender shall be punished, but this Decree is notice that further instances of racism through any medium within the Commonwealth shall be punished swiftly and ruthlessly to protect our diverse citizenry from discrimination and offence.
What was the reaction?
Upon its publication, the decree faced immediate backlash from right-wing politicians and judges within the country. The Rt Hon. Jack MP was said to have told the Essexian cabinet that “[The decree was not] necessary, it could have been accomplished through Terry putting a sentence in speech platform.”
The Supreme Court itself issued a statement that has been seen by some as a condemnation of the Emperor’s decision, with Supreme Justice Jacob saying;
This new element of legislation places itself squarely at the centre of the debate between the freedom of speech, and the state’s powers to regulate it. In my reading of this law I find that this creates issues not only of the censorship of free speech, but could also cause issues to arise by a lack of clarity. The specific wording of the law is also strange in that it explicitly clarifies that “No previous offender” will be affected. Not only does this law apparently feel some need to restate the already acknowledged functions of the creation of law, it also names those who would have said such things as offenders even though previously, no such offence existed. Drawing back away from the legal technicalities and reassessing the actual intent and effect of the law, there seems that there may end up being some conflict between this decree and the constitution, pursuant to Article 9 that states “Every citizen of this land, has the right to think, say and express what they please, without the persecution of authority, as long as such expressions do not deny other citizens of their rights.” – whilst Article 2 might support the act, the definitions of “discriminated against” and “degraded” are again unclear. Certainly, critics of this new decree could see it as a “nanny state” law that is intended to police expression within the country. It shall remain to be seen as to the eventual ramifications of the law, and only through actual hard cases can there be actual clarity created as to the new policing of expression involved.
Despite this, the decree was welcomed by the Progressive Workers Party’s leader Matthew S, who said;
“I wholeheartedly throw my weight behind this decree. Only wrongdoers need be concerned. The constitution makes it absolutely clear that racism, transphobia and homophobia are unacceptable in Essexia – as do other statutory documents like the Discrimination Act 2020. The right to free speech extends only so far as it’s compatibility with Article 2 and 70 – anything that is said that is in breach of these two articles is illegal and the Emperor is right to reaffirm this.”
Former PWP leader and First Minister Sam seemed to contradict his successor by saying that the ruling “means I can’t be anti-wh*te.”
What is the main reason for the dispute?
The constitution makes it clear in Article 70 that “Essexian society shall rest upon the principle of total equality regardless of gender, sexuality, race, colour and creed.” Despite this, most right-wing groups prefer to cite Article 9 in disregarding Article 70, which states that “Every citizen of this land, has the right to think, say and express what they please, without the persecution of authority, as long as such expressions do not deny other citizens of their rights.”
This is not the first time there has been dispute in the face of the fight against racism in Essexia. The February Discrimination Act, brought in by former First Minister Jamie M, was attacked by Turning Point Essexia and the courts for being in contradiction to the right to free speech—which the government largely ignored.
The decree has clearly exposed divisions within Essexia. The government, which already hangs together by a thread, is split over the matter, with First Minister Ben H yet to make a public comment on the issue—it is extraordinarily rare for a First Minister to not overtly endorse the Emperor. Other members of the Imperial Court are yet to comment, which bolsters speculation that many within the Emperor’s circles are unhappy with his intervention.
The Daily Meme, led by George S, known as ‘Shep,’ has also hit back, posting a meme seemingly ridiculing the decree in the Daily Meme channel. While the meme was met with unpopular reviews, it is a sign of further discontent within the nation.
However, what happens next remains mostly to be seen. The Emperor could hit back and issue another public statement reaffirming his values which may force King James, Queen Becky and the First Minister to position themselves. The Supreme Court could also act on its rhetoric, and question the constitutional validity of the amendment in what would be the first case against the Emperor in the Commonwealth’s history.
The international reaction also remains to be seen, with some saying that the Emperor and his allies are counting on a strong international commendation of the Emperor’s actions to quell internal dissent.