Despite the promises of the French Revolution, France, like much of the world, has never had a First Amendment-like attachment to free speech.
Part of the explanation lies in xenophobia, especially regarding the United States. For example, some years back the French Parliament banned some 3,500 foreign words—including cheeseburger, chewing gum, and bulldozer—from use by advertisers, schools, corporations and the government.
Striking back at the use of mostly American/English words seen by many in France as having wounded that country’s “national pride,” the words—and thus the thoughts they represent—were interred in the graveyard of French political correctness.
So it should come as no surprise that in this day of uber-political correctness, especially in the Europe that is drowning in unassimilated Moslem immigrants, France has enacted “anti-racism” laws. They punish, criminally, speech which could incite hatred or discrimination on racial or religious grounds. These laws criminalize words on verboten topics.
We’ll put aside for now the wider issue of criminalizing pure speech, and what it says about a government that would enact such laws and about the citizenry that would stand still for it, and instead focus on the recent L’affaire Bardot.
Former actress Brigitte Bardot has for decades been France’s most vociferous voice for animal rights in that country and throughout the world. Fearless and eloquent, Mademoiselle (she will never be “Madame” to many of us) Bardot has been a lightening rod and target for France’s large anti-animal rights constituency.
Among them is the metastasizing Moslem invasion of Europe, which has brought with it Islam’s dietary and celebratory customs, including the ritual slaughter during religious holidays of conscious animals.
Two years ago, Bardot wrote a letter of protest to then-Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, now president of France. She said “I’ve had enough of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”
For her exercise of free speech on behalf of animals Bardot was charged with a violation of the “incite hatred” law (she had been convicted of the same charge four times before).
The prosecutor wanted to send her to jail. Instead the judge fined Bardot the equivalent of $25,000, ordered that she pay about $1,500 to the “anti-racism” group that had complained about her letter, and required that Bardot reprint the judge’s order in the same place she had published her letter to Sarkozy.
Proudly unrepentant and undeterred, Bardot was quoted by her lawyer as saying “[s]he will not be silenced in her defense of animals.”
Thankfully, here in the United States animal rights activists do not exercise their free speech under threat of criminal punishment.
Because we don’t, we must applaud the courage of those who risk being branded as criminals in less enlightened countries like France.
According to the online Wikipedia encyclopedia, “the female depiction ‘Marianne,’ a national emblem of the French Republic, is, by extension, a personification of Liberty and Reason. It represents France, as a State, and its values . . . representing France as a nation and its history, land and culture. She is displayed in many places in France and holds a place of honor in town halls and law courts. She symbolizes the ‘Triumph of the Republic’, a bronze sculpture overlooking the Place de la Nation in Paris. Her profile stands out on the official seal of the country, is engraved on French euro coins and appears on French postage stamps; it also was featured on the former franc currency. Marianne is one of the most prominent symbols of the French Republic.”
Wikipedia also tell us that “[t]he official busts of Marianne, after having had [for many years] anonymous features, being represented by women of the people, began taking on the features of famous women starting in 1969”
The first French woman whose features appeared as Marianne, in 1969—“a personification of Liberty and Reason”—was Brigitte Bardot.