A Social Democratic Party (PSD) politician from the city of Iasi in eastern Romania, Marius Ostaficiuc took the biscuit when he lodged a complaint with the local consumer protection watchdog back in 2015. Mr Ostaficiuc complained at the time that The BFG (short for The Big Friendly Giant), a 1982 children’s book written by British novelist Roald Dahl, had “grammatical errors” and “words that do not exist.”
It didn’t take long for Romania’s consumer protection authority to embarrass itself. The authority’s office in Iasi promptly banned the sale of the book and fined the bookstore that sold the novel to Mr Ostaficiuc. They even paid a visit to the bookstore to investigate the novel.
A Romanian court eventually put the kibosh on the whole thing, canceling the sanctions imposed by the consumer protection regulator. The court said that the “errors” Mr Ostaficiuc complained about were part of how the book’s protagonist spoke. They were part, so to speak, of the “crux of the book.” Indeed, some of the splendiferous words invented by Mr Dahl were included in the Oxford English Dictionary five years ago. Steven Spielberg directed a movie based on the book, which was released in 2016.
One would think that Mr Ostaficiuc has since died of shame. In fact, he’s doing better than ever. Last year, he was elected MP. He is very outspoken on social media (no matter that his own Facebook posts are littered with grammatical mistakes). Asked about the complaint he made six years ago, he recently told a local news portal: “I would do the same today.”
The Dahl saga won Mr Ostaficiuc the Idiot of the week title. If he is fair, he will have to share it with the bunch of knuckleheads staffing the consumer protection body, which has never returned the fine slapped on the bookstore that sold Mr Dahl’s book.