Samir’s Selection 01/18/2015 (p.m.)

  • The different treatment accorded to Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné is, however, built into France’s complex cluster of laws regulating protected speech. These laws are alternately very free and highly restrictive. Right after the French Revolution, France abrogated its old laws making blasphemy a crime—and so Charlie Hebdo’s blasphemous depictions of Muhammad are not a crime. At the same time, France’s press laws, which date to the late nineteenth century, make it a crime to “provoke discrimination, hatred, or violence toward a person or group of persons because of their origin or belonging to a particular ethnicity, nation, race, or religion.” In other words, you can ridicule the prophet, but you cannot incite hatred toward his followers. To take two more examples, the actress Brigitte Bardot was convicted and fined for having written, in 2006, about France’s Muslims, “We are tired of being led around by the nose by this population that is destroying our country.” Meanwhile, the writer Michel Houellebecq (whose new novel was featured in the issue of Charlie Hebdothat came out just before the attack) was brought up on charges, but acquitted, for having said in an interview that Islam “is the stupidest religion.” Bardot was clearly directing hostility toward Muslim people, and was thus found guilty, while Houellebecq was criticizing their religion, which is blasphemous, but not a crime, in France.

    This complex distinction reflects modern France’s anti-clerical roots: individuals are protected, but churches and their doctrines are not. 

    tags: France freeexpression hypocrisy law discrimination incitement religion explainer

  • “One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that to be effective, you have to attack a problem from every angle. That can be through introducing legislation, bringing up an issue at a hearing, writing letters, every possible way to push on the issues that you care about. To draw people’s attention to them. To say, ‘This matters.’

    tags: ElizabethWarren USpolitics biography influencing persuasion publicpolicy

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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