Take Up Your Teaspoons

by Shaker laguiri

Spanish law is very protective of people's privacy and our personal image. It's a constitutional right, on the same footing as freedom of speech, and it is particularly protected in the case of minors. You cannot make a minor's identity public without their parents' consent, no matter how newsworthy they are, not even if what you want to say about a minor is a good thing. The law is very clear about that, and there aren't any ambiguities.

President Zapatero took his wife and children (girls, aged 13 and 17) to a recent official visit to the USA. The girls' identities are secret. Nobody knows how they look like, or what school they go to. Until two days ago, I didn't even know their names. The president of the government here does not have a "first family" status like the royal family does, or like the President's family in the United States. Since we became a democratic country, the apparitions of presidents' families in the media are rare. Not exceptional, but certainly rare.

But Zapatero and family got a picture taken with Barack and Michelle Obama. It appeared on the White House website, but it was taken down upon request. We have seen the picture in Spain because the major Conservative newspaper (El Mundo) published it, pixeling a fraction of the girls' faces. I'm not going to show you the picture to respect the family's wishes, but in order to understand what's going on now you have to know that they're fat, they're not standing very gracefully, and they're wearing thick boots and loose black clothes. As a result, they've been called all sorts of insults in conservative media, particularly online.

On Saturday, Antonio Burgos, a popular columnist in another Conservative newspaper, ABC, has published an article saying things like:
Everyone in close contact with the Government knew that Zapatero's girls were two horrors, but now, all of Spain knows. They're ugly enough to scare you away. (...) If they came to you on a dark night, asking you, for example, where to take a bus to Alcosa [a very working-class neighbourhood in his town], they'd shock you enough to make you jump to Carmona [30 miles farther away].

It's an offense to gothic art to say that these two monstrosities are "gothic" (...) By the volume of their round bumps..... if Brigitte Bardoat saw them, she's want to protect them.... pinniped animals

…Zapatero didn't want the picture published (...) so that we didn't see his complete family portrait. His Munsters.
Does this upset you? You can do something about it:

1. you can complain to the Defensor of Minors of the Spanish government. Click here and click "Otras solicitudes y sugerencias" in the drop-down menu. It will ask you for personal information but on other page it states clearly that people from any nationality or age can file complaints. Here is a model letter in Spanish (translation at the end):

Ruego a la oficina del Defensor del Menor tome responsabilidad en la defensa del derecho al honor y a la intimidad de las hijas de la familia Rodríguez Espinosa, menores de edad (16 y 13 respectivamente).

Desde la publicación de su fotografía en la Casa Blanca de Washington se ha multiplicado su presencia en medios de comunicación de todo corte, no precisamente informativos, sino de opinión, del mismo modo que otros menores que recientemente han recibido la atención de su oficina.

En concreto, ruego al Defensor del Menor emprender de oficio las acciones pertinentes respecto a la columna del pasado sábado 26 de Antonio Burgos y el medio publicante, diario ABC:

"Que las niñas de Zetaparo eran DOS CALLOS HORROROSOS lo sabían los más íntimos en La Moncloa, pero ahora se ha enterado España entera. SON DE SALIR CORRIENDO."

"Te encuentras a las 12 de la noche con estas PUÑETERAS NIÑAS en una calle oscura…"

"¡Qué ofensa para el arte gótico, llamar góticos a estos ADEFESIOS!"

"Por el volumen de su BULTO REDONDO, así achaparrado."

Solicito respetuosamente su intervención.


[I ask the office of the Defender of Minors that it takes the responsibility of defending the right to their honor, privacy and self-image of the daughters of the Rodríguez Espinosa family, ages 13 and 16. Since the publication of their photograph in the White House in Washington their presence has multiplied in the media, not as a form of information but in opinion outlets, just like other minors whose protection has been requested of this office.

Specifically, I request of the Defender of Minors that he takes appropriate legal measures against the column published on Saturday 26th by Antonio Burgos in ABC: (quotes from the column). I respectfully ask for your intervention. Yours sincerely....]

2. You can complain to ABC, sending an email to opinion@abc.es. This is a model letter in Spanish, asking the newspaper to make an apology (translation at the end):

El pasado día 26 de Septiembre, el columnista Antonio Burgos publicó una columna injuriosa acerca de las hijas del presidente del Gobierno. Los insultos allí vertidos van más allá de la libertad de expresión y vulnerar el derecho al honor de las niñas, que deberían permanecer ajenas a las opiniones que Burgos tenga sobre su padre. Consideren que los humoristas de "El Jueves" que atentaron recientemente contra el honor de los Príncipes de Asturias fueron condenados a pagar una multa de 6.000 euros. Burgos no ha hecho menos que ellos, contra personas totalmente inocentes que no han hecho daño alguno y no se pueden defender. Antonio Burgos tiene derecho a expresar su opinión sobre otras cuestiones legítimas y por ello no les pido que sustituyan su columna, pero les ruego que publiquen una disculpa.


[Last Saturday the 26th, the columnist Antonio Burgos published an article insulting the president's daughters. The insults he used go beyond freedom of speech and damage the right to the honor of the children, who should remain apart from the opinions that Burgos has about their father. Remember that the cartoonist from "El Jueves" who damaged the honor of the Prince and Princess of Asturias were recently sentenced to pay a fine of 6,000 euros. Burgos has not done any less than they did, and he attacked innocent people who haven't hurt anybody and cannot defend themselves. Antonio Burgos has a right to express his opinions on legitimate matters, and that is why I am not asking you to retire his space, but I'm asking you that you publish an apology. Yours sincerely, YOUR NAME.]

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