Thanksgiving, Lorenzo Brown, and “Sólo sí es sí” – Random Thoughts #9
It’s been a while since I’ve done a “random thoughts” post.
First off, happy Thanksgiving!
I’m debating whether to go and buy a full turkey for a proper Thanksgiving celebration. I do it most years, but it always ends up being a lot of work.
Then again, if I don’t do it, I’ll probably mope around wishing I’d just gone all in.
So in the meantime, while I decide, here’s a podcast I recorded about it…
Or you could read my article about how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Spain for more info.
In any case, I’m thankful for you, wonderful reader. I appreciate you taking the time, and I appreciate all the questions I get from people around the world who share my interest in “all things Spain”.
Lorenzo Brown’s “express nationality”
You may have missed this “big” news – at least I did – but Spain’s national team recently won the EuroBasket 2022 competition. Held every four years, the EuroBasket tournament is something like a World Cup for basketball… but only European countries can participate.
So a European Cup for basketball? I don’t know. Ball sports aren’t really my thing.
(I hear your mom really loves her ball sports, though, and good on her.)
Anyway, Spain won this EuroBasket thing with the help of a gentleman named Lorenzo Brown, who’s apparently pretty good at throwing a leather ball through an elevated hoop from various improbable angles. So good, in fact, that he’s done it for such prestigious teams as the Springfield Armor, the Guangzhou Long-Lions and “Crvena Zvezda”.
Now he’s on the Spanish national team, and some are even saying he’s the new Spanish Michael Jordan.
Funny thing, though: he’s not Spanish. That is to say, he has no Spanish heritage, has never lived in Spain, and has no connection whatsoever to the country. Actually, he’s from Georgia (the US state, not the country – gotta be clear when talking about Europe) and was granted Spanish nationality a few months ago solely so he could play on the national team.
This decision was made – or at least facilitated – by the Consejo Superior de Deportes, who alleged “exceptional circumstances“. Namely, they really wanted to win a few basketball games.
This is all mildly irritating to me, of course, because I’ve been struggling with the Spanish immigration system for most of my adult life, and it’s been all in all an expensive, time-consuming and unpleasant experience. Only now, after 7 years of trying to get legal in the first place, and 10 years dutifully renewing my work and residence permit, do I have the right to even apply for nationality – a process which will take me several years.
I guess I should have gotten better at basketball.
In any case, this isn’t the first time “Nacionalidad Exprés” has been granted to the famous and otherwise unremarkable. The first case I heard of was Ricky Martin, who was given a Spanish passport in what seemed at the time like an obvious publicity stunt by the Zapatero government to publicize their then-recent decision to allow same-sex marriage.
Oh well. While I’m getting yet another background check, taking a Spanish language test, and another “Citizenship Test” to see if I know how the Constitution works and if I can tell you where Ceuta and Melilla are – and then waiting on the bureaucracy for, like I said, several years – Lorenzo Brown is out there practicing his free-throws and thinking about, maybe, learning how to say “¿Dónde está el baño?”
The new “Sólo sí es sí” law has some unintended consequences
The big story around Spain this week is about the new “sólo sí es sí” law, which was intended to protect women from sexual assault and similar offenses.
“Sólo sí es sí” was inspired by the case of “La Manada” from several years ago, in which a young woman was sexually assaulted by a group of dude bro dipshits from Sevilla during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona – one of the rapists, incidentally, was a member of the Guardia Civil.
When charged, members of La Manada produced some videos from their private WhatsApp group which (they claimed) showed that the whole thing was consensual. The victim disagreed.
The eventual trial revolved around consent and what it means. And “Sólo sí es sí” was supposed to make things clearer, so that in the future such offenders could be prosecuted more strictly. However, the law has some loopholes which have suddenly become obvious…
As convicted sex offenders are being let out of prison early due to the sudden re-organization of the hierarchy of sex crimes.
Irene Montero (Minister of Equality and member of Unidas Podemos), who’s been pushing this law for the last four years, did what any strong, independent woman would do when “rapists walk free” started appearing in the headlines: called the judges a bunch of misogynists.
This line of argument convinced absolutely no-one, and by yesterday even El País was admitting that the law had some problems. You change the maximum and minimum sentences for a long list of offenses and lawyers start to file appeals. Article 2.2 of the Penal Code says very clearly that laws like this will be applied retroactively if they benefit those who were previously convicted.
So now, I guess, it’s back to the drawing board.
All this is unsurprising to me, having dealt with the Spanish legal system for so long. I’ve talked to all kinds of Spanish lawyers in this time, and had friends who worked in the government tell me as well: the laws are passed, and for a while nobody has any idea how they’re supposed to apply them.
It takes a while for everyone to agree on what the new laws mean – and sometimes, the judges even change their minds later on about what things mean and how they should be applied.
All this to say, it’s complicated. And that’s why we have courts in the first place.
I hope the government comes up with some sort of intelligent decision here… but, as I said in my last article about prostitution, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today.
Keep it real out there, kids.
Daniel AKA Mr Chorizo.
P.S. I’m turning 40 soon. Like, really soon. In a few days, actually. Here’s an article I wrote about getting old and what I’ve learned a few years ago. I still stand by it. Have fun!