HideOnly 1 day left to get your copy of the CIA's declassified training game by backing CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter »
HideOnly 1 day left to get your copy of the CIA's declassified training game by backing CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter »

French Government Wants To Toss Far-Right Political Leader In Jail For Posting Images Of Terrorist Atrocities

from the headline-writers-already-busy-on-Le-Pen/the-Pen-variations dept

France's decision to inhibit free speech in response to local terrorist attacks has resulted in ridiculous applications of laws being written (and rewritten) on the fly. The current French president -- and supposed moderate -- wants to "ban" fake news and the French government has previously expressed a desire to censor websites for national security reasons. The attack on satirical publication Charlie Hebdo supposedly prompted French government officials to stand in solidarity with free speech. This show of unity was followed immediately by multiple arrests for violations of France's speech laws -- including the arrest of comedian for an anti-Semitic Facebook post and another for posting a video mocking dead policemen.

I'm not sure if this latest action is approaching the French speech law event horizon, but it says nothing good about the current state of speech protections in France.

[Marine] Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential vote, is facing charges of circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity”, and that can be viewed by a minor. The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (£66,000).

The pictures were posted a few weeks after the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, in which 130 people were killed.

Le Pen leads the far-right political party Front National. She tweeted these images in response to a journalist's comparison of her party to terrorists. This was meant to indicate her party wasn't actually involved in the execution and torture of political and religious enemies, unlike ISIS. It's an easy point to make and even easier to make badly, as Le Pen did.

The posting was questionable and in poor taste, but it certainly shouldn't be illegal. These are things that actually happened, perpetrated by actual terrorists. Preventing people from using these image in context does nothing to slow the spread of terrorism. All it does is turn contextual use of violent imagery into its own crime, wholly divorced from the criminal acts the law is supposed to be deterring.

It took the French government three years to get around to laying charges. Here's why:

The move by a judge in Nanterre on Thursday came after the national assembly voted in November to strip Le Pen of her parliamentary immunity over the three photos posted in 2015.

This decision could not have been made lightly. This sets precedent for the removal of immunity -- something most members would likely have wanted to leave undisturbed. That it was disturbed suggests the desire to punish Le Pen was greater than the desire to avoid being held accountable for similar actions in the future. It makes no difference to the court who it punishes for violations, but it will make a lot of difference to those who voted to strip immunity when the pendulum swings back the other way and the party in power starts handing out charges for saying the wrong things online.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 5:46am

    Wrongthink must be punished, regardless of the ultimate costs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stefan, 6 Mar 2018 @ 6:06am

    WhaT?

    Is this real? If the truth hurts then we must hide it, or whaT? c'mon :|

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 6:33am

    Except it's not "French Government", it's globalists and EU thugs; "Far-Right" means any little bit Nationalist or Populist, and the "Terrorist Atrocities" were most likely done by globalist forces. Other than that, headline is accurate.

    And of course, besides a bit of censorship, the purpose is to destroy person / party with fabricated charge.

    Now I'll read to see if you have any clue as to the real story... No, but at least you separate Le Pen from the images and go on to point up the removal of "immunity", showing it's just another word used by the unelected EU thugs to fool the masses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 8:39am

      Re: Except it's a long and ignorant title

      Oh Noes!!!!
      It's the Globalists again - everyone panic!!!11111

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 8:39am

      Re: Except it's not "French Government", it's globalists and EU thugs; "Far-Right" means any little bit Nationalist or Populist, and the "Terrorist Atrocities" were most likely done by globalist forces. Other than that, headline is accurate.

      lol

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:03am

      Re:

      You mean the same EU thugs you expect to follow your copyright law?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 6:47am

    this is awesome!

    the natural outcome of all this political bickering is showing some solid fruit.

    Keep at each others throats folks, and don't forget to wonder why wars happen! Be sure to call everyone that does not agree with you names! And by all means get those misrepresentations out and beat those political bibles... you have souls to save! Even if it means ostracizing them!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 6:58am

    Censorship is censorship.

    Whether one happens to be in the current ruling party or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:00am

    Marine Le Pen is an immoral racist POS. This is not, and should not be, a jail-able offense.

    I think the delay in voting to strip immunity was only to see if her party would decrease in popularity. This isn't about images she tweeted, this is because she's a threat to the establishment. She's only a threat because the current herd of politicians is doing such an abysmal job. They think the threat of opposition is going to go away with Le Pen, but it clearly will not- she merely fills the void they created.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:15am

    She tweeted these images in response to a journalist's comparison of her party to terrorists. This was meant to indicate her party wasn't actually involved in the execution and torture of political and religious enemies, unlike ISIS.

    I agree with the article. She shouldn't be prosecuted for this.

    But I also recognize that when a demagogue whips up fear and hatred against a minority to increase their own political fortunes, there's nothing wrong with pointing out that they bear some responsibility for what happens next.

    The Quebec City massacre last year was carried out by a big Marine Le Pen / Donald Trump fan who bought into their anti-immigrant / anti-Muslim propaganda.

    Her immunity should be tied to a related issue: Can those criticizing her expect immunity too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 2:42pm

      Re:

      To describe Le Pen as "far right" is inaccurate. Her father was far right - but she actually expelled him from what was once his own party.

      On many economic issues she is actually well to the left of Macron.32

      The reality is that the old left/right labels don't work anymore. We should probably stop using them.

      The Quebec City massacre last year was carried out by a big Marine Le Pen / Donald Trump fan who bought into their anti-immigrant / anti-Muslim propaganda.

      The Quebec massacre is the regrettable but inevitable backlash from the 32000 plus fatal jihadist attacks that have happened this millenium, coupled with the way MSM media and establishment politicians have cluelessy whitewashed Islam from responsibility. Worldwide Jihad typically kills more people every single day than died in Quebec.

      See https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      There are some Islamic scholars who openly admit this - for example this one from Indonesia.

      http://time.com/4930742/islam-terrorism-islamophobia-violence/

      Trump and Le Pen get a lot of support simply because the mainstream keep bleating that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam but they are not in any way responsible for events like Quebec or Finchley.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 3:15pm

        Re: Re:

        To describe Le Pen as "far right" is inaccurate

        The rest of your post certainly adds context to this claim.

        The reality is that the old left/right labels don't work anymore. We should probably stop using them.

        You prefer the "white supremacist" label, or just "Nazi?"

        No, really. EVERYTHING in your post and links can be said with equal accuracy about Christianity, cherry-picking biblical quotes and extremists the same way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 4:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, really. EVERYTHING in your post and links can be said with equal accuracy about Christianity, cherry-picking biblical quotes and extremists the same way.

          First off I never actually mentioned Christianity - so for you to raise the issue is pure tu quoque fallacy.

          Secondly it simply isn't true and repeating it every time the subject comes up won't make it true.

          Find me the 32000+ "Christian Attacks" since 2001.

          Did you actually read my second link? Your reply doesn't make any sense in relation to it.

          You prefer the "white supremacist" label, or just "Nazi?"

          Since you mentioned the Nazis - here is Hitler on the subject of Islam: "Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers -already, you see, the world had already fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing Christianity! -then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism [Islam], that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so."

          It seems that Hitler could tell the difference between Islam and Christianity - and preferred Islam!

          As for white supremacists - well some of them are converting to Islam now - they rather like the Islamic attitude to race, women, and LGBT.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 4:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I stand by what I wrote above. You can start the clock to make Islam look worse, but the same can be done with Christianity.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I stand by what I wrote above.

              Doubling down isn't necessarily convincing. To some it even has the opposite effect.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Purity Denson (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 10:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              This is bullshit. If you're comparing Christianity 700 years ago to Islam today then you might have a point. As it is you don't but you clearly aren't interested in the facts so it's going to be pointless trying to educate you.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Roger Strong (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 12:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                700? How about 70?

                There were endless pogroms in Europe before the Holocaust, and there were even pogroms after.

                Go back 150 years, and you had Christian nations occupying most of the rest of the world - with assorted genocides - and yes, spreading Christianity was a major motivator. In fact the was the Catholic church that divided up the world and told each European country which part of the rest of the world would be their playground.

                In the last century the Christian world had WWI, WWII, the holocaust and the nuking of two cities - with clerics and padres on BOTH the German and Allied sides assuring their respective troops that God thought it was peachy-keen. Nothing in the Islamic world compares to it.

                (Yes, even the Nazis had military chaplains to assure the troops that they were doing the right thing and could be proud of their work. Nazi soldiers had the words "Gott mit uns" (God with us) on their belt buckles.)

                150 years ago Biblical teachings were commonly used to justify slavery and racism. 50 years ago, they were commonly used to support racism and deny civil rights. When Romney was preaching in France (instead of going to Vietnam), his Christian denomination was still teaching that blacks were cursed and inferior.

                Christians committed genocide against Muslims in and around Serbia just a few years ago.

                There's the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, with the Christian Militia killing somewhere between 800 and 3500 people - depending on whose numbers you believe - in refugee camps.

                Here in Canada there's The Sons of Freedom, a sect of Doukhobor anarchists, who have protested nude, blown up power pylons, railroad bridges, and set fire to homes.

                Currently in India there's the National Liberation Front of Tripura. Crimes include forcible conversion of tribal cadres/civilians to Christianity.

                In Uganda the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla army engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government, has been accused of using child soldiers and committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, porters and sex slaves. It's led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Christian Holy Spirit. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.

                And of course there's northern Ireland.

                Or how about America....

                Christian Science Monitor: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

                The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

                Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.

                I'm not justifying what happens in the Islamic world - but the Christian world hasn't been any better until VERY recently - and even then, by taking Christianity out of the picture. As communications technology spread, as secular education spread, and as it became safe to disagree with the clerics, the west became a better place. The Muslim world is going through the same process.

                The founding fathers of America get a lot of the credit, thanks to their insisting on separation of church & state. People are free to practice their religion, so long as it doesn't harm others or break laws. It worked for Christianity (eventually) and it'll work for Islam.

                It might even work for they guy I was responding to above, defending the actions of a Christian committing a massacre against Muslims in Canada.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Re:

        Interestingly, most terrorist attacks are not done by Islamists.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:31am

    And the gold medal for hypocrisy goes to: France

    I wonder if anyone would have batted an eyelash if Le Pen had posted Eugene Delacroix's painting "Liberty leading the people". Which shows a bare chested lady, carrying a french flag, leading revolutionists through a heap of corpses, some of which are partially denuded.
    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Leading_the_People)
    It's got the ingredients that make Le Pen's post questionable, plus nipples on top!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:48am

    Breaking

    Considering we are learning that Le Pen was allegedly being manipulated by Russia it is easy to understand why she would post such heinous images.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 8:40am

    Typo

    "That is was disturbed suggests the desire to punish Le Pen was greater than the desire to avoid being held accountable for similar actions in the future."

    Should probably "That IT was disturbed"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:35am

    Most members?

    the national assembly voted in November to strip Le Pen of her parliamentary immunity over the three photos posted in 2015. ... This decision could not have been made lightly. This sets precedent for the removal of immunity -- something most members would likely have wanted to leave undisturbed.

    "members" of what? If you mean members of the national assembly... I don't know how French law works but had they wanted to leave it undisturbed, wouldn't they have voted "no" to directly do that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 11:12am

      Re: Most members?

      In the adult world, we have to sometimes do things that we don't want to do because we judge the alternative to be even worse.

      For instance, I don't want to go to work. But, as I've grown accustomed to living indoors with running water and electricity, I opt to go to work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re: Most members?

        I'm not responsible! They made me do it! They left me no choice!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:45pm

        Re: Re: Most members?

        In the adult world, we have to sometimes do things that we don't want to do because we judge the alternative to be even worse.

        Real adults realize that their decisions are still their decisions even if they didn't like the alternatives and don't try to use bullshit excuses.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 11:24am

    And the truth will set you free, not.
    Euro-trash? The Fourth Reich?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 1:48pm

    I have no sympathy with the stupidity of this prosecution nor with the still greater stupidity of Le Pen for her crass posting but that doesn't mean I can agree with everything in the article :

    "The posting was questionable and in poor taste, but it certainly shouldn't be illegal. "

    Certainly? You may not believe it should be illegal, and I may not believe it should be illegal but there's no certainty about it. I can see an arguable case that making deliberately provocative postings should be not be allowed.

    Just because the USA raises free speech above almost any other freedom does not mean that's the right thing to do under all circumstances, it isn't. I find a problem with almost all absolute assertions, a good life requires that we all get along and if that means you aren't always free to say exactly what you want exactly how you want to say it, that's not an overwhelming price to pay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2018 @ 5:14pm

      Re:

      Jeff, please delete your post. As a survivor of a censorship attempt, I find that posts advocating restrictions on free speech to be deeply problematic and deliberately provocative.

      So, in accordance with your own stated beliefs, I think we can come to a compromise where you delete this comment and never make any argument similar to it ever again in public. Surely you're not a hypocrite who would refuse to abide by your own standards?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jeff Green (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 8:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Nothing hypocritical at all, I will however stick to my principles and not say exactly what I think of your reply exactly how I want to say it.

        You see? I just for the sake of civilised debate restricted my own free speech. Your (tongue in cheek) compromise is an example of what I complained about, a wish for black and white in a grey world.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Mar 2018 @ 6:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          **Just because the USA raises free speech above almost any other freedom does not mean that's the right thing to do under all circumstances, it isn't. I find a problem with almost all absolute assertions, a good life requires that we all get along and if that means you aren't always free to say exactly what you want exactly how you want to say it, that's not an overwhelming price to pay.**

          Yeah... about that... ever heard of "mission creep," Jeff?

          It starts off as a well-meaning attempt to Make Them Behave and ends up muzzling dissent.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2018 @ 8:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            To break it down: the idea is that if we use new governmental powers to shut up the people we don't like here and now, it will have consequences in the future.

            That future is when the people we don't like in politics do inevitably get in power, those new politicians will then have the same powers, only this time, they'll make the people we do like shut up.

            You can't avoid letting all people speak if you hope to have public discussions uncensored, it's already being clamped down on with some online platforms. We take our ability to say what we wish so for granted that it's becoming dangerous to think it's always been this way and always will.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2018 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        I do love that you're decrying censorship, while saying "delete your post."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2018 @ 6:22pm

    First the Thought Police.

    Now the Picture Police?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Thanks To Our Sponsors

The Techdirt Free Speech Edition
is a partnership with

with sponsorship from:

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.