Blog about Beef Noodle Soup? You Could Go To Jail…In Taiwan

This is one of those stories that I just couldn’t read and let slide under my radar, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. A blogger in Taiwan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine of NT$200,000 (roughly $7,000 USD) for criticizing the beef noodle soup at a Taiwanese restaurant, claiming it was too salty.

beef_noodle_soupApparently the blogger who often writes about food visited the restaurant in July of this year. After trying a variety of dishes she concluded that the beef noodle soup was too salty, the restaurant was unsanitary, and that the owner was causing traffic nightmares by letting people park precariously in front of the establishment. According to the Taipei Times the restaurant owner claimed that the blogger was overly harsh in her review causing customers to question whether or not they should visit his restaurant.

On Tuesday of this week the Taichung branch of the Taiwan High Court decided the blogger had gone too far, if you think the noodles are too salty, jail it is! It may sound crazy…okay it is crazy, but this actually happened. The defense lawyer said that Bloggers in Taiwan should be careful when criticizing restaurants and always make sure to have photo evidence to back-up their claims. For those of us living in countries where free speech is allowed just remember, this is a privilege, in many countries Bloggers could see more than jail time for expressing their opinions.

So next time you think you’re being treated unfairly…just think of what it’s like to get a $7,000 fine and jail time for complaining about beef noodle soup…

Morgan

Co-Founder at Fashion Metric
Morgan Linton was born in Berkeley, California but spent nine years traveling the world as an early employee for digital music startup Sonos. In 2007 Morgan founded Linton Investments, a domain name and branding company that has helped some of the most recognized startups in the world acquire their top choice domain name. In 2012 Morgan left his full-time job to co-found Fashion Metric, a next-generation platform aimed at changing the way guys shop for clothes online.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Poor Uncle June 24, 2011, 8:25 am

    That is also why America is the best greatest country in the history of the world. Don’t forget to celebrate July 4th and tell your kids and remind your friends and family how good America is. God bless America!

  • Jim June 24, 2011, 9:31 am

    This sounds like a food critic doing a job on the reputation of the restaurant for what ever reason.

    - the beef noodle soup was too salty, (ok fair comment, if it ended there)
    - the restaurant was unsanitary, (proof?, did health officials back up her statement? is she qualified to make such a damaging statement?)
    - the owner was causing traffic nightmares by letting people park precariously in front of the establishment (What?, What again? The article now becomes a vendetta against the restauarnt owner for whatever reason)

    She got fair justice. Food critics are an authority that carry large sway with their readership, making untrue accusations can cripple a business, it is quiet clear from what you tell us in the article that was the intention. Free spech has to be about telling the truth, not abusing it to defame someone or their business.

  • Morgan June 24, 2011, 9:44 am

    Thanks for your comment @Jim – I always appreciate hearing both sides of the issue. In this case though shouldn’t a blogger be able to express their opinion without potentially going to jail?

    She said the soup was salty, she felt the place was unsanitary, and the parking situation was ridiculous…those are all opinions which seem fair to write about if that’s how you feel. If she was doing this to just get the restaurant in trouble that would be another story but this does sound like her simply expressing her honest opinion about the restaurant.

    You said that her intention was to cripple the business…I do not think this was the case, instead I think she was simply expressing her honest opinion of the restaurant. Oh and Free Speech is all about being able to express your opinion, good or bad. A case like this wouldn’t hold-up in the US for a second because we have this freedom. Look at someone like Howard Stern, he says all kinds of terrible things about people and companies, and he is allowed to because we live in a country with free speech. Just because someone has an opinion doesn’t mean they have to show legal proof backing it up, it’s just an opinion and in countries with Free Speech we are allowed to freely express our opinions :)

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