Radio DJ evades prosecution for alleged anti-Chinese coronavirus song

Lady Justice in Netherlands
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Radio 10 DJ Lex Gaarthuis will not face prosecution for his role in writing a Carnival song in February called 'Prevention is better than the Chinese', the Public Prosecution Service confirmed on Thursday. The prosecutors determined that the song was meant to have been interpreted satirically, though it led to five people requesting charges be filed, and hundreds of discrimination reports.

The song, which aired on Feb. 6 in the weeks following the outbreak of Covid-19 in China, included lyrics such as "Don't eat Chinese, you have nothing to fear" and "It's all because of those stinky Chinese". It garnered controversy at the time for being perceived as a racist dig against people of Asian origin, spurring an online petition that was signed over 25,000 times within a few days.

To date, it has been signed 58,000 times. The backlash prompted Gaarthuis and the management of Radio 10 to make a public apology on the matter.

However, according to the findings of Thursday's investigation by the Public Prosecution Service, the song had been written satirically. "The use of stylistic means such as a strong Rotterdam accent and a clear Carnivalesque melody contribute to the satirical character of the song," the body of public prosecutors wrote on Thursday. They said that the song "fits within the context of artistic expression" and is "not unnecessarily offensive".

The public prosecutors added that they had also taken Gaarthuis's apology into account in making their ruling. "From his actions and wording, the Public Prosecution Service understands that the radio DJ is aware of the negative impact of the Coronavirus song and its vulnerability."

According to Talpa Radio, the parent company of Radio 10, the fact that the prosecutors factored in Gaarthuis's apology was a positive sign. "We are pleased that the Public Prosecution Service has concluded after thorough investigation that there are no criminal offenses. Radio 10 and Lex apologized several times for broadcasting the sketch. We have indicated that the sketch is intended to be satirical and that it was never the intention to hurt or discriminate against people," said the media group.