Turkish teachers acquitted on criminal charges after showing Game of Thrones to students


Back in 2016, we reported on a strange piece of news out of Turkey. In the early days of Game of Thrones, Captain İskender Gülbahar — an instructor at Turkey’s Maltepe Military High School, located in the western province of İzmir — screened an episode of Game of Thrones for his students. His aim was to help them better understand English. But when officials, tipped off by an anonymous letter, learned what an happened, Gülbahar and three of his colleagues were brought up on criminal charges and fired from their jobs.

The foursome were accused of “exposing children to obscene content.” We’re not sure which episode of the show is in play here, but it was alleged to encourage the consumption of alcohol, as well as to contain “pornographic elements” and “perverted and violent methods of sexual intercourse.” For better or worse, that doesn’t really narrow it down.

The complaint also accused the teachers of “insulting Turkishness” by showing the episode. “Even though it is not directly said, it is easily understood by the audience [that the characters are portraying Turks].” That’s news to me, but okay.

The case has gone through several twists and turns since then. Now, years after it began, the Hürriyet Daily News reports that an İzmir court has acquitted the teachers of all charges. Twenty-one former students testified on their behalf.

I think most would agree that Game of Thrones isn’t an appropriate program to screen for high school students. I mean, plenty of high school students watch it, but showing it in the classroom is just asking for trouble. But criminal charges? That’s extremely…extreme. I’m glad the teachers avoided more severe punishment, although whether their careers can recover is another matter.

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