I’ve read these lines several times, but I still can’t believe this really happened in a modern democracy:
“Brigitte Bardot was convicted Tuesday of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France.”
In a nutshell, Bardot, a noted animal-rights activist, had criticized a Muslim feast day which is celebrated by slaughtering sheep. She doesn’t like the idea of slaughtering sheep for any reason, religious or otherwise, and she said so. But under France’s so-called “anti-racism” laws, people simply can’t say or write numerous things which in America would go under the broad heading of protected speech. (By contrast, the U. S. Supreme Court weighed in on the subject of animal sacrifice a few years ago, with quite different results.)
Free speech isn’t always pretty, and countless American demagogues–liberal, conservative, secular, religious–have peddled poison under its shield. But never forget the iron law of ICAGWO–It Could Always Get Worse. In France, it got worse with the passage of those speech-squelching laws.
I’ve commented a number of times on this blog about free speech conflicts, such as here and here. All forms of government represent a risky choice, a gamble. Some countries gamble that the state knows best. Others gamble that the individual knows best. We’ve obviously put large chips on the latter, and for all the irresponsible abuses of free speech that we have to endure, we’ve made the best choice.
The full story on Bardot is here. Read it, weep, and remember, next time you hear or read something that makes you angrily say, “There oughta be a law…,” take a deep breath and be glad there isn’t.