Saturday, January 28, 2012

France Tramples All Over Basic Right of Freedom of Speech – Again

Conservatives:  If You Want a Real Reason to Dislike France, Here is One

During the beginning of the U. S. war against Iraq the failure of France (wisely it turned out) to support the U. S. invasion angered many Republicans, some Democrats and almost all Conservatives.  In retaliation they supported an initiative to call “French” Fries as “Freedom” Fries.  This of course exposed the silliness of their policies along with a basic misunderstanding of culinary terms.

But if one is looking for a reason to condemn the French, they have just provided one.  The French government is in the process of making it a crime to utter certain political speech.

The proposal is set to make the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that are recognized by French law punishable by up to a year in prison and a €45,000 ($58,143) fine.

The specific target of the bill is this, to make it a crime to deny that the massacre of Armenians in 1915 was genocide.  Now there is no denying that there was the killing of a huge number of Armenians by the Turkish army.  Placing a name on the event such as genocide or massacre does not change any facts.  The issue is purely an emotional one between the parties, and the specific role of any democratic government, or any government that claims its people have basic freedoms is to allow the discussion to continue with no government involvement.

This is, of course, not the first time that France has tried to suppress speech in the name of, well we’re not sure what it is in the name of. 

Denying the Holocaust is already illegal in France.

and while Holocaust deniers are despicable, anti-Semitic hate mongers, under a society which values freedom of expression, their despicable anti-Semitic hate mongering is protected.

France used to be known by the famous quote attributed to Voltaire

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."

who may or may not have said it, but even if he didn’t he would probably claim to have done so as it is a great single sentence embodiment of freedom.  Now it will be known as a country that wants to send people to jail for speaking, or as a French citizens paraphrasing Voltaire today might say

I disagree with what you have to say, and I shall defend to the death my right to put you in prison for saying it.

There Conservatives, reason enough to dislike the French.

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