Addendum: Je Suis Et Ne Suis Pas Charlie Hebdo

After writing the blog Je Suis Et Ne Suis Pas Charlie Hebdo yesterday, I ran across an online article on Reason magazine's website called Charlie Hebdo in the Dock.  It illustrates that in France and in several other E.U. countries (Germany, the Netherlands, The United Kingdom, and Sweden), using religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability as the basis of an insult to another individual or group of individuals is a crime punishable by a fine of €22,500 and six months in jail.  Graduating from mere insults to defamation or advocation of discrimination, hatred, or violence can be punished with up to a year in prison.  As I had mentioned in this very blog yesterday (in the fourth paragraph), the French Council for the Muslim Faith sued the "Charlie Hebdo" publishers and pushed prosecution of its editor using these very laws.  While the Courts sided with Charlie Hebdo in that case, it is more than little scary to think that the editor of "Charlie Hebdo" was facing potential prison time for the hurt feelings that resulted from the illustrations.

Protecting people from experiencing offense is quite the rabbit hole into which France and these other countries can descend, especially when it can result in such stiff sentences for those doing the offending.  Another article from Reason magazine's website, titled France Arrests Comedian Dieudonné for Condoning Acts of Terrorism on Facebook, shows just how far down that rabbit hole France can go.  Quoting the article:
"... the controversial and allegedly anti-Semitic French political comedian Dieudonné was being investigated by a Paris prosecutor over a Facebook post in which he wrote 'I feel like Charlie Coulibaly'—mashing together the names Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the mass murderer in the kosher supermarket. Well, today, Dieudonné has been arrested on suspicion of condoning acts of terrorism, a crime with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a €100,000 fine."
 The article goes on to say: 
"The arrest is part of a nationwide clampdown on free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre... A shocking 54 people have been arrested for speech offenses in the past week, reports the Associated Press."
It's not just unfortunate that this is happening, it's precisely what I stated emphatically in this blog that we MUST oppose!  This is NOT the lesson that the French Government and the people of France should be learning from all of this!  Using institutional violence against those who exercise their tongues and their pens is not going to solve their problem with those who use vigilante violence against those who exercise their tongues and their pens.  Showing no respect for freedom of speech and freedom of the press is not going to help them win their battle against those who have no respect for freedom of speech and freedom of the press!  Abandoning their values will not protect their values!

While it's not quite the death penalty that France is seeking in these cases, and so by degree doesn't reach the extremes of the extremists, it's still institutional war waged against the tongue, the pen, and the keyboard, which is more subversive as a trend in a country like France than the actions of an obviously subversive subgroup.  When these extremist groups see their Government taking an organized and institutional route to silence unpopular or offensive speech, it should come as no surprise if they are tempted to identify their cause and their motivations as the other side of the same French coin.

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