Brendan O'Neill: France Dishonors Charlie Hebdo By Policing Hate Speech

To grant the state the authority to police hatred is to open the door to the policing of thought, conscience, and morality.


Charlie Hebdo
Greens / EFA

Two months after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the French state has just taken a massive merde on the graves of those who were killed.

It has decided to honor their memory, or dishonor it, by instituting what promise to be the most stringent anti-hate speech laws in Europe. It has declared an "unmerciful battle"—the Justice Minister's actual words—on anything on the internet that insults religious groups or ethnic minorities.

In other words, its response to those gun-wielding Koran-thumpers who declared an unmerciful war on cartoonists for blaspheming against Muhammad is to extend that unmerciful war to cover other forms of offensive speech, too. "Je Suis Charlie," crowed every French politician eight weeks ago, but now we know the complete opposite is the case—the leaders of France are actually finishing the job started by the Charlie-killers, the job of crushing with force "hateful" speech.