Who gets arrested and who doesn’t get arrested tells you France does not have free speech.
So the reason, we were told, that Charlie Hebdo got to publish cartoons that mocked and offended religious believers, including Muslims, was because France has a tradition of free speech. So naturally, in response to the killings, the French government is working overtime to affirm free speech…
…by arresting people for what they say.
Here’s a headline from The Associated Press: “France Cracks Down on Hate Speech, Sends Carrier to Mideast.”
France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and those glorifying terrorism and announced Wednesday it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East to work more closely with the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
Authorities said 54 people had been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism since terror attacks killed 20 people in Paris last week, including three gunmen. The crackdown came as Charlie Hebdo’s defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the satirical weekly that fronted the Prophet Muhammad anew on its cover.
Bob Allen recently condemned USA Today for publishing a pro-terrorism article. But he never suggested that the newspaper editors or even the writers should be arrested for it.
Presumably, we want to win people over to our way of life and culture. So, in testifying to Muslims that they must tolerate perverted cartoons featuring Mohammad, wouldn’t it be good to show that our respect for free speech is truly equal for everyone? Otherwise, it seems to me that we are communicating that we are merely a secular regime that likes to see mockery of Islam, Christianity, etc. That’s not free speech; it is directed and managed speech.
Like many European countries, France has strong laws against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust.
The Justice Ministry sent a letter to all French prosecutors and judges urging more aggressive tactics against racist or anti-Semitic speech or acts. The order did not mention Islam.
Here’s a particular example of what these “aggressive tactics” might look like, as reported in the Guardian:
Notorious French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has been arrested for being an “apologist for terrorism” after suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the Paris gunmen, a judicial source has said.
Prosecutors had opened the case against him on Monday after he wrote “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” – mixing the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, used in tribute to the journalists killed at magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amédy Coulibaly. Dieudonné was arrested on Wednesday.
So that’s liberal France. Make a Facebook comment and get arrested. Look up Dieudonné on Wikipedia when you have a chance if you want to get an idea of where he is coming from and his background. He has been charged with various speech code “violations” before that had nothing to do with even the possibility of promoting violence.
I don’t agree with his Facebook comment at all. But the fact that he and others are getting arrested in the midst of this crisis fits a pattern. It looks like the French government never wants to let a crisis go to waste.