In an earlier post we mentioned the hypocrisy of French intellectuals in allowing Macron to proclaim the absolute right of Freedom of Speech. Actually France has laws against hate speech and laws against holocaust denials. This means that Macron had at his hands the means to ban the offensive cartoons. It also means that all this talk about fundamental French values was pure hocum. France did not feel there was a right to deny the Nazi holocaust or deny the Armenian holocaust.
If Macron had the means to prevent the cartoons causing such offense his defence of the cartoons becomes not so much about freedom of expression but direct expression of hostility and contempt for his French muslims specifically and Muslims world-wide in general, and a pandering to the extreme right and seeking to pre-empt increased popularity for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party.
As Raffi Wartanian wrote in November 2009:
“In July of 1990, France’s Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation that marked the front page of newspapers across the world. One of the world’s most influential nations with an intricate history of revolution, colonialism, and multiculturalism, declared the denial of the Jewish Holocaust as a criminal offense. The Gayssot Act , proposed by French communist politician Jean-Claude Gayssot, emerged in France’s national and political consciousness following the defamation of a Jewish cemetery in Carpentras, a town in southern France.
One of the world’s most influential nations with an intricate history of revolution, colonialism, and multiculturalism, declared the denial of the Jewish Holocaust as a criminal offense.
This measure, however, was not the first of its kind in France or the wider European landscape. France’s 1972 Pleven law on racism, for example, built on the 1881 law on freedom of press prohibiting the press from libel, slander, defamation, and writing against a group of people. The Pleven law furthered these restrictions to outlaw racist speech and writing against individuals, and banned provocations of hatred, racial violence, and discrimination. “
Why is Macron doing this? He is currently very unpopular and these extreme measures appeal to a certain audience. What are the consequences? One would expect growing oppressions and restrictions on civil liberty for ALL French citizens some in the name of anti Islamic terrorism but no doubt others more generally in the name of ’security‘.