Charlie Hebdo Massacre

George Clooney's Human-Rights-Lawyer Wife Is Helping Prosecute a Turk for Denying the Armenian Genocide

Days after her husband's 'Je suis Charlie' speech, Amal Clooney is fighting to deny the human right to express disbelief in a historical fact


One of them is wearing a "Je suis Charlie" button. The other is trying to prosecute someone for disbelieving something. |||

During Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, there was much mirth about how George Clooney, recipient there of a lifetime achievement award, had actually married up when wedding the human rights lawyer Amal Ramzi. After paying proper tribute to his new bride, Clooney, wearing a "Je suis Charlie" button, concluded his acceptance speech with this rousing bit on free expression:

Today is an extraordinary day. Millions marched not only in Paris but all around the world, and there were Christians and Jews and Muslims, leaders of countries all over the world, they didn't march in protest, they marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. Je suis Charlie.

So! What's Amal Clooney working on these days? Would you believe representing Armenia in an attempt to uphold the Swiss prosecution of a visiting Turkish politician for the crime of denying that Turkey committed genocide against Armenians a century ago?

Dogu Perincek was found guilty by a Swiss court in 2008 of denying, during a visit to Switzerland, that the genocide ever took place.

Mr Perincek, from the Left-wing Turkish Workers' Party, called the genocide "an international lie" and was fined by the court in Switzerland.

He appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which ruled in Dec 2013 that Switzerland had violated his right to free expression.

That appeal is now being challenged by Armenia, with the case to be heard by the Strasbourg court's 17-member Grand Chamber. The first hearing has been scheduled for Jan 28.

The Armenians argue that denying the genocide should be a crime, just as negating the Holocaust of six million Jews is a punishable offence in many countries.

He's a right charmer, this one. But he shouldn't be prosecuted. |||

Expressing your disbelief of a historical event should not be a crime in any country, under any circumstance. (And lest my Armenian friends accuse me of going soft on Johnny Turkey, click here.) Assisting such a prosecution makes a mockery of the phrase "human rights lawyer," as free speech is a bedrock human right. The sad fact is, as Jacob Sullum has explained here recently (and will again in a great column tomorrow morning), many of the countries singing Je suis Charlie loudest of all, including France itself, have terribly illiberal laws governing what people can't say.

Just this Monday the Paris prosecutor's office opened up an investigation into the provocative French political comedian Dieudonné, most famous for popularizing a hand-arm gesture designed to look like the (illegal) Nazi salute, because Dieudonné wrote on his Facebook page "As far as I am concerned, I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly"—mashing together the names Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket paper's assassin, Amedy Coulibaly. Dieudonné may be a jackass and an anti-Semite (many French people I know certainly seem to think so), but those traits should not be criminal in a free society.

Marching and speaking and sharing and even hash-tagging can be beautiful acts of solidarity in certain moments. But the real work of building free-speech law and culture is very hard. France and Europe have a long way to go; Lord knows we do, too.

NEXT: Report Rips Common Core for Imposing Standard Reading Requirements on Kindergarten Tots

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well, if she were a lawyer instead of a laywer, maybe…
    Seriously, what should we expect? This is a Euro twit with only a bare acquaintance with the concept of rights (as opposed to entitlements), married to a lefty ignoramus who is not capable of educating her.
    Hell, ask Clooney about CU; I’m sure you’ll get standard lefty twaddle about “I’m all for free speech, but…”
    What do you expect of a twit who has spent his career pretending to be someone else?

  2. Human rights lawyer. Does she work for the Ministry of Truth, Love, Plenty, or Peace?

    1. She’s a lawyer. She works for whoever gives her enough money.

  3. This is some Gawker-level celebrity shaming.

  4. “Just this Monday the Paris prosecutor’s office opened up an investigation into the provocative French political comdiean Dieudonn?, most famous for popularizing a hand-arm gesture designed to look like the (illegal) Nazi salute, because Dieudonn? wrote on his Facebook page “As far as I am concerned, I feel I am Charlie Coulibaly”?mashing together the names Charlie Hebdo and the paper’s assassin, Amedy Coulibaly.”

    Notice how in America we don’t have any racist comedians as popular as Dieudonne? I bring this up because the entire argument behind hate speech laws is provably absurd. The reasoning behind them is that they stop hate speech and hate crimes. Yet in France, with all its fancy, enlightened hate speech laws, they have a popular anti-Semitic comedian who pantomimes a Nazi salute and they have periodic attacks on Synagogues. In Sweden (again, with their anti-hate speech laws) they have an anti-immigration party getting 13-15% of the vote, despite the fact that the party in question literally started as a fascist party in the ’80s.

    Then you’ve got the new found popularity of the National Front in France, the BNP has won five council seats in Britain (which would be like us electing the KKK to city council), and there are multiple active racist parties sitting in the EU.

    So Europe actually has worse racial problems than we do, despite being vastly less diverse.

    1. I wonder if being prohibited from talking about something makes people more likely to lash out. Like maybe talking and letting off steam leads to less violence, not more.

      1. It contributes to a siege mentality, which entrenches people and can make some fence sitters jump towards the other side. My armchair psychology opinion is that in this country we’ve actually learned how to live side by side with people that are different. Not everyone likes it, and some people may get sort of nasty about it, but most people have at least learned to live with it.

    2. Notice how in America we don’t have any racist comedians as popular as Dieudonne?

      Well, none that are white, anyway.

      Europe is much more racist than the US in lots of ways. Especially the casual racism you hear from regular nice, middle class people. It’s kind of amazing sometimes. And people in Southern Europe really hate Gypsies (which is kind of understandable as their traditional way of life seems to consist of picking pockets and trying to sell you worthless crap and putting curses on you if you refuse).

    3. “Notice how in America we don’t have any racist comedians as popular as Dieudonne?”

      Don’t be fucking retarded. We have Mel Gibson, who has identical beliefs and similar to Dieudonne rose to prominence long before his anti-Semitism became public knowledge. This country has just as many anti-Semites as anywhere else. You are kidding yourself and obviously not from a Jewish background.

      1. How many films has Mel Gibson been cast in or asked to direct recently?

        I knew a gal from Eastern Europe. Most racist & anti-Semitic person I have ever met. She actually had a fetish which at its zenith would be met by wearing a Nazi uniform and dominating her. I’m a tolerant guy but I tried to keep her from speaking as much as possible due to the awful things emanating from her mouth.

        1. Don’t be stupid. Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ was hugely successful at the box office, primarily among conservatives, despite his anti-Semitic views being public knowledge, not to mention the fact that his father was an out and out Holocaust denier.

  5. Fuck, how do I know anything in history happened? I wasn’t there for almost any of it.

    1. A likely alibi

      1. So, ProL’s responsible for the Holocaust then.

        Good to know.

        1. Shit, I don’t even know if you people exist, let alone people who died before I was around.

          Solipsism is great. I don’t know why more people don’t adopt it.

          1. Apparently it really helps if you are the man who rules the universe.

          2. Of all of the figments of my imagination, you are the one I like best.

          3. +1 Bertrand Russell

        2. I suppose I should state for the record that I am not a Holocaust denier. I also firmly believe that men walked around on the Moon using mysterious and totally lost technology. And 9/11 was the act of a bunch of crazy people who, surprisingly, weren’t current employees of the U.S. government. Did I miss anything?

          1. What about Smurfs? Do you acknowledge their existence or are you a denier?

              1. NOT COOL

                1. I do recall some blurry images of blue-skinned people, but I think that was on Star Trek.

                  1. And you’re on board that Martians coordinated the JFK assassination and have extended Fidel Castro’s life through extra-planetary magic medicine. Right?

                    1. Martians? Don’t be absurd. They were conquered by Space Nazis millennia ago. The JFK assassins were sent by residents of a planet orbiting Tau Ceti, beings who, in a surprising coincidence, each look almost exactly like Marilyn Monroe. They deny complicity with Castro, noting that he had clear ties with the Planet of the Apes.

        3. Per the butterfly effect if the holocaust had not happened its possible that Prol would never have been born so in a way he is responsible.

          1. Whole suns exploded to create me. Behold and despair!

            1. Those were sun farts.

              1. Supernovae. In fact, a good deal of that matter in me was manufactured in the furnace of the Big Bang.

                1. Most of the protons, anyway.

                  1. I meant in their current atomic form, so the hydrogen, mostly. I’ve conveniently bound that up with oxygen.

    2. You’re not going all Matrix on us are you, Pro L?

      1. I’m not the One. I’m. . .the Other One.

  6. I’m completely shocked.

  7. married up

    Not going by attractiveness.

      1. What relationship does the woman on the left bear to the woman on the right in those pictures?

        1. The woman on the left posed for the heavily airbrushed pictures on the right?

  8. I thought that denial was the official Turkey position?

    1. Yes. IIRC you can be prosecuted in Turkey for publicly alleging that the Armenian genocide happened.

      Europe is really a savage and barbaric place. It’s too bad so many moneyed Americans have this inferiority complex about European culture. Knowing which side of the plate to put the fish-peeling demi-spork in no way outweighs the European elites’ dismissive contempt for basic human rights.

      1. Wait. In Turkey you can be prosecuted for saying it happened and in Europe you can be prosecuted for saying it didn’t. What a wonderful continent.

  9. So, this is ironical because he was celebrating the exercise of speech offensive to muslims and also celebrating the prosecution of a different exercise of speech offensive to a Armenians. It’s a good thing people don’t take seriously the opinions of actors about international affairs, right?

    1. There seems to be a lot of overlap between people who take celebrities’ opinions seriously and those who take the U.N. seriously. I’m not sure if that is more embarrassing for celebrities or the U.N.

      1. Definitely celebrities

      2. I saw an documentary once where a provocateur went around the Berkley campus asking students basic questions. One girl professed to be working towards a job at the UN. When asked she could not answer basic geography or cultural or history questions.

        Whadaya wanna bet if asked questions about celebrity gossip the little twat could nail every one?

  10. The Golden Globes were on Sunday? Damn, I missed them again for the 48th year in a row.

  11. I deny that Switzerland is even a country.

  12. “Dieudonn? may be a jackass and an anti-Semite (many French people I know certainly seem to think so), but those traits should not be criminal in a free society.”

    Exactly – if France decided to punish all its anti-Semites and jackasses…wow, they’d need to transform many cities into open-air prisons.

    1. Maybe they can just hang a jackass from time to time “pour encourager les autres.”

  13. Maybe she’s a lawyer for “human” rights but chooses to leave the qualifying scare quotes off her linkedin account.

  14. Look, at least Mrs. Clooney wants to follow due process of law to punish speech she opposes, rather than just going off and shooting people.

    1. That’s a great idea. Let’s do tort reform by labeling all of the sleazy plaintiffs’ attorneys as terrorists, practicing legal terror tactics. In a real sense, it’s true.

      1. Just to be clear, that’s *your* idea, so feel free to claim sole credit.

        Sleaziness should depend largely on whether the claims they bring are meritorious.

        1. As determined by me, the Merit Czar, in my sole, unreasonable discretion.

  15. What are the odds that a celebrity- fellating “journalist” will ever ask Mr. Clooney to reconcile his stand with that of his wife? I’d guess “slim to none” but even if it was asked, Clooney would duck the question.

    1. Here’s his response if truly challenged: “I’m just a caveman. Your world frightens and confuses me.”

      1. +1 unfrozen caveman lawyer

    2. Is his wife making a stand or doing a job? Or do you have to do everything on principle when you are a human rights lawyer?

      1. That’s a great question. I suppose they’re in it for the money and fame, like most other litigators. Except the ones who work for government, who just get off on power.

      2. I would think Mrs. Clooney is not a starving attorney so she has the ability to pick and choose her clients, and should. I know several scrabbling lawyers who refuse to defend DUI cases on principle (because of family relationship to someone who suffered from a drunk driver.) Nothing wrong, of course, with spouses having different opinions on an issue but we aren’t talking “I like sea food, but she only eats red meat” kind of distinction here.

      3. Prosecuting a man for exercising his human rights seems a strange case for a human rights lawyer, does it not? Either she’s a standard prosecutor or she’s not a human rights lawyer.

  16. Hate speech is not freedom of speech. Freedom of speech means only voicing approved opinions. If you want to know what opinions are approved then simply click the link and scroll half way down. There is a list of things approved opinions may not be.…..n-america/

    Oops. Opinion, not opinions. Apparently there is only one.

    1. Ho. Lee. Shit.

      The author of that article would have gleefully hacked Cambodians to death with farming implements for the crime of wearing glasses or knowing French.


        She then wrote an even worse follow up that was filled with such petulant narcissism it’s almost unreadable.

        She’s angry that we’re such big meanies who don’t even care about minorities. *kicks rocks angrily*

        1. The article was based on my experiences as a human rights activist who has worked for many different human rights organizations around the world. Immediately after it was published, I received a torrent of hateful and abusive messages.

          I’ll take ‘Shit That Never Happened’ for 500, Alex.

          1. The article was shared here several times and discussed at some length, so I wouldn’t be so sure.

          2. By “hateful and abusive messages” she means “PEOPLE DISAGREED WITH ME!”

    2. That was posted a few days ago and, after researching, several sites determined it was satire.

      1. I hope so.

        Really, really hope so.

  17. Progress human rights are not the same as liberal human rights, but it’s understandable that there could be some confusion. Liberal human rights include Free Speech. Progressive human rights include Free Speech But.

    1. *Progressive

  18. That’s some doubleplusungood thoughtcrime.



    GET RID OF OUR FREE SPEECH!, shrieks the aptly named University of Chicago Maroon.

    “On December 12, President Zimmer and Provost Eric Isaacs detailed new steps the University will be taking to address issues of diversity and inclusion, including the establishment of two new campus climate surveys focused on gaining insight on issues pertaining to cases of sexual misconduct and underrepresented groups on campus. Given the fearful climate that many students have cited in the past few months, the University must take the issues of diversity and inclusion into account when writing about the importance of free speech. It is not enough for the University to simply reiterate its commitment to free speech; it must also discuss its nuances and where the lines between acceptable and unacceptable speech fall.

    Freedom of expression is essential to a productive and creative learning environment. This means students must be prepared to listen to opinions that differ from their own. Speech that challenges commonly held assumptions can be beneficial. Hate speech benefits no one because it seeks only to tear down, not to build up. The University needs to directly address hate speech for the good of productive discourse.”

    1. We need to grow a pair back in this country. This fear of offending anyone is horrifically dangerous, and it gets worse every year.

    2. My alma mater. So ashamed.

    3. ” It is not enough for the University to simply reiterate its commitment to free speech; it must also discuss its nuances and where the lines between acceptable and unacceptable speech fall.”

      How does somebody put those two sentences together if they have two brain cells to rub together? If you have “unacceptable” speech then you do not have free speech.

  21. So, in Switzerland, it is illegal to deny the Armenian genocide. In Turkey, it is claim there was an Armenian genocide.

    And the headline is “Mr. Clooney is a hypocrite/buffoon and Mrs. Clooney is a well-dressed mercenary”?

    The first people to have their rights violated are political and social undesirables: The foreigners, the destitute, the recidivists, the politically radical. In time, those violations trickle up the ladder to the working poor, then to the middle class.

    Outside of conspiracy, defamation, and knowing or purposeful incitement, no spoken or written word should, in and of itself, be a criminal act.

  22. It really annoyed me when all those celebs stood up cheering for free speech at the Globes. They do realize that Hollywood is one of the most Politically Correct places on Earth, right?

    Seriously, it reminded me of the meeting of the Film Actors Guild in “Team America”.

  23. What, no mention of her famous “marbles” speech?

  24. The problem is balancing freedom of expression with that of hate speech which has a history of preceding hate crimes. There are many proponents of unlimited freedoms of expression who somehow sidetrack the issue of hate speech. If we all agree on the proverbial “hate speech does not allow someone to yell fire in a theatre” then we should also agree that there has to be some limitations of freedoms that would allow people to target individuals or groups which would inevitably result in bringing harm to them. This to me IS a human rights issue, and it needs to be defended with equal fervor.

    Viewpoint that has as its basis a sinister objective of spreading hatred towards a specific group must be considered as a human rights violation . Turkish gentleman, Dogu Perincek, by accusing the descendants of the Armenian genocide, the entire Armenian nation today, as liars and cheats, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg agreeing with his right to say so, he has given ammunition to the Turkish government to quote the same European court’s decision as justification to portray the Armenians of 1915 as traitors and backstabbers in school textbooks. Liberal Turkish intellectuals have been shocked and alarmed at this latest inclusion of open animosity towards the Armenians in Turkish textbooks.

    There is more to it than just defence of freedom of expression blindly, there has to be checks and balances and respect for an equally important democratic principle: human rights.

    1. Eat a bag of dicks, fuck off, and die in a fire you equivocating fascist, fuckheaded sack of shit.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.