Good News: You Can Now Call France's President A Jerk
from the what-year-is-this? dept
When it comes to the kind of speech that some people don’t like, our wine-drinking friends in Europe haven’t always done so well. You may recall the battle between the French and Twitter over some dumb, bigoted tweets and the identities behind them. Or perhaps you’ll recall the French government working with Twitter to suspend several accounts that were parodies of then-President and Anthony Wiener look-a-like Nicolas Sarkozy. While free speech in Europe isn’t always so fleshed out as it is here in the colonies, France in particular appears to have some severely antiquated laws on the books. One of the more egregious is that it was apparently illegal to “offend the head of state”, i.e. the President, a law dating back to 1881.
Whereas before any rude remark risked an automatic fine for “offending the head of state”, the president is now reduced to the same category as ministers and parliamentarians and would need to have a judge prove there had been slander or defamation.
The change came after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in March that France violated a demonstrator’s right to freedom of expression when it fined him for holding a banner up to former President Nicolas Sarkozy reading: “Get lost, jerk.”
On the off chance any of you don’t keep up with your Google alerts for news relating to French Presidents and their ironic double-standards, “Get lost, jerk” was a statement Sarkozy made to someone who once refused to shake his hand in 2008. Whereas before you couldn’t call Sarkozy a thin-skinned walking phalus for his actions, hey, now you can. No more $50k fine!
Of course, Sarkozy is no longer President and Francois Hollande is, so let’s see what you’ve got, French citizens!
President Francois Hollande has so far shown a thick skin, however, as critics have given him a string of unkind nicknames like “Flanby”, a brand of wobbly caramel pudding or “Mr. Little Jokes”.
Oh, okay. Well, look, you can’t really blame the French for crappy insults. They’ve been out of practice for over a hundred years. I would suggest, however, that congratulating a man for being thick-skinned when he comes from the stock that brought us skin-growing breakfasts like eggs benedict might be unnecessary.