President Of France Sues Citizen Over Billboard Comparing Macron To Hitler

from the is-this-really-your-first-time,-Emmanuel? dept

Some countries still have laws that forbid insulting political leaders. But you kind of assume enforcement of these laws will be left to the Erdogans and Dutertes of the world.

Apparently not. In France, where free speech protections are mostly known for their exceptions, President Emmanuel Macron has apparently been so insulted that it's resulted in the government taking legal action against a citizen armed with nothing more than an overused comparison and a handful of billboards. (h/t Sarah McLaughlin)

French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a billboard owner who depicted him as Adolf Hitler to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

Michel-Ange Flori, who owns about 400 billboards in the southern département of the Var, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: "I have just learnt that I will be heard at the Toulon police station tomorrow following a complaint by the president of the Republic."

"So in Macronia you can make fun of the prophet's ass, that's satire, but to make the president look like a dictator is blasphemy," he added.

The offending poster portrays Macron in the uniform of Nazi leader Hitler, with a small moustache, a lock on his forehead and the acronym of the presidential movement LREM turned into a swastika. A message reads: "Obey, get vaccinated."

Insulting the president is no longer a criminal offense in France. That law was amended in 2013 after the European Court of Human Rights condemned the law in a ruling. But the president can still take action against alleged defamation, like any regular citizen. But, unlike regular citizens, the president's complaints are handled by government prosecutors and apparently involve local law enforcement.

To be in power is to invite criticism. The correct response is to take it, not prosecute it. But the French government held onto its criminalization of insulting political leaders for more than a century and only amended it after it was forced to by a court decision.

But this was perhaps to be expected from the French government. After all, it could barely be bothered to do anything more than indulge in a photo op in the wake of the murders of contributors to satirical publication Charlie Hebdo by Islamic extremists. And it followed up this blatant and literal attack on free speech by arresting a local comedian for his anti-Semitic statements.

The explanation by the government's legal team doesn't make anything better. It simply says Macron was offended and wanted to sue.

Jean Ennochi, a lawyer for Macron, said the legal complaint was filed for Macron in a personal capacity "because of the offensive nature of the comparison of the President of the Republic with Adolf Hitler".

A representative of Macron's party said it had filed a separate complaint alleging insult and incitement of hatred.

Obviously, being compared to Hitler isn't flattering. But it's the rare political leader who makes it through their tenure in office without being compared to Hitler at some point. Obviously, there's only one Hitler and thousands of politicians who've done nothing more harmful than anger some citizens by being on the "wrong side," or supporting the "wrong" policies, or merely holding a position of power. A ham-fisted comparison doesn't "incite" hatred. It only affirms the hatred some French citizens already feel towards Macron. It definitely shouldn't result in lawsuits, law enforcement involvement, and the deployment of government prosecutors.

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Filed Under: adolf hitler, billboards, emmanuel macron, france, free speech, hate speech, lawsuits, michel-ange flori, political speech


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Aug 2021 @ 12:49pm

    That'll solve it

    Gets compared to Hitler by a nurgle cultist claiming that the government telling people to take the damn shot is tyranny, sues in an attempt to punish that incredibly stupid speech.

    Yup, cracking down on idiots like that will definitely reduce the Hitler comparisons, great job there.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Aug 2021 @ 1:21pm

    Macron is angry that Flori insulted Hitler.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2021 @ 1:50pm

    There is a surprising number of people in positions of power who, when called a tyrant, will immediately set out to prove it right.

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

  • identicon
    Radioactive Vampire, 3 Aug 2021 @ 5:57pm

    Apparently Emperor Emmanuel I of France has apparently lost his temper and this blasphemer who stands in his way should be convicted of thoughtcrime for daring to criticize His Majesty and his wonderful government that wants to destroy civil liberties and freedom of expression because every sin needs be paid, please shut up and be happy, Just obey all orders without question, the comfort you've demanded is now mandatory because just try now attempt to think or depression may occur. Stay in your homes and remain calm. National security is more important than individual liberty. Our worst enemy of progress is questioning authority and thinking for yourself, anyone failing to attend required worship of establishment will be promptly arrested and dispatched to a re-education resort. We must not disturb His Majesty in his good intention to destroy our free will, because it is in the best state interest. Anyone caught interfering with the
    collection of interesting billboards will be shot. Houses will be inspected for trace elements at noon. Cameras and surveillance equipment will
    be posted on all lampposts and streetlights .Be happy, at last, everything is done for you because our dear technocratic neoliberal authoritarian ruler knows us best

    l'état, c'est moi, isn't it

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

  • icon
    sumgai (profile), 3 Aug 2021 @ 6:17pm

    In America, stupid lawsuits are criticized.
    In France, criticism causes stupid lawsuits.

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

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 3 Aug 2021 @ 7:25pm

    So this means…

    Godwin's Law is now an actual law in France?

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

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 3 Aug 2021 @ 10:05pm

      Re: So this means…,

      Actually, it has been for some time, like decades.

      France has an anti-Nazi law that pretty much precludes even mentioning them, except in certain historical contexts. It's fairly bizarre in that when a seller on eBay listed some Nazi memorabilia a few years ago, France nearly sued eBay to make them take down the listing. I don't recall the final outcome, only that France seemed awful thin-skinned over something that happened 65 years ago (at the time of the listing).

      I mean, if you wanna guarantee that history will repeat itself, just delete it from all possible view, and wait a few years/decades. If there's no chance that anybody could learn a lesson, then sure as It Don't Rain In Indianapolis.... Need I illustrate further?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 3 Aug 2021 @ 11:52pm

        Re: Re: So this means…,

        "France seemed awful thin-skinned over something that happened 65 years ago (at the time of the listing)"

        Yeah, why would being occupied by literal Nazis, having towns and villages starved or destroyed, neighbours murdered, etc. have any resonance within living memory? Just let the reminders flow free of what happened to your families, no big deal.

        Meanwhile, people in the US are fighting over statues erected to honour people who fought against the US 150 years ago.

        "if you wanna guarantee that history will repeat itself, just delete it from all possible view"

        Nobody's removing it from view. Everyone in Europe is taught about what happened and the symbols used, especially in countries where their own populations were on the wrong side of history, and there are museums and memorials galore. You just don't have to allow the local neo-Nazi cult fly swastikas and cosplay as the gestapo to remember what happened.

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

        • icon
          sumgai (profile), 5 Aug 2021 @ 7:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: So this means…,

          Everyone in Europe is taught about what happened and the symbols used,,..

          True, except in France. There, since the time of DeGalle, they've really gone out of their way to bury any possible of mention of what happened between 1938 and 1945 outside of school. Your premise is sound, but unless you've lived in their culture for a time, you can't understand why they are so overly sensitive. But in a pinch, I'll say only that they had hoped that if youth can't easily discover all the remnants of WWII, then they're much less likely to resurrect and restart the crap all over again. Fat lot of good that did for them, eh?

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 5 Aug 2021 @ 11:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So this means…,

            "they've really gone out of their way to bury any possible of mention of what happened between 1938 and 1945 outside of school"

            Which is clearly why I can name numerous French movies made about the time of occupation. Wait...

            "There, since the time of DeGalle, they've really gone out of their way to bury any possible of mention of what happened between 1938 and 1945 outside of school."

            So has Germany. When I visited Berlin, we went to Hitler's bunker, and all trace that it had ever existed had been removed, so that what is now a random spot in a car park could not be used as a gathering point for neo-Nazis and their chance to worship their hero is gone. You can be arrested on sight for performing a Nazi salute. That doesn't mean that Germans have forgotten what took place there.

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

        • icon
          Tanner Andrews (profile), 8 Aug 2021 @ 1:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: So this means…,

          being occupied by literal Nazis, having towns and villages starved or destroyed, neighbours murdered, etc

          Not so much occupied by the krauts, but actually collaborating with them. Yes, there was some resistance, but it was firmly tamped down. This is part of a proud French tradition.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2021 @ 3:49am

    "So in Macronia you can make fun of the prophet's ass, that's satire, but to make the president look like a dictator is blasphemy," he added.

    Which still won't get you killed, though, like the other kind.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2021 @ 6:23am

    no often, but sometimes

    the French hit the nail right on the head

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

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 4 Aug 2021 @ 5:09pm

    Fellow sufferer?

    Perhaps Namibian politician Adolf Hitler Uunona could write Macron a note of sympathy?
    https://en.everybodywiki.com/Adolf_Hitler_Uunona

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

  • identicon
    emmanuellE LAFIOTTE & olivia vereux, 7 Sep 2021 @ 12:26pm

    Michel-Ange Flori is genius.

    Michel-Ange Flori is genius. he also depicted emmanuellE macron as Pinochet and Petain (Marshall Petain, the famous Nazi collaborator of the Vichy regime during WW2 which scumbag macron copies in all aspect)... emmanuellA macron is pissed off because someone tells the truth and the French agree. emmanuellA is bieng mocked and ridiculed as she should be (macron is homosexual and is used as the woman with his 'mother' Birgitte, his 60 something year old "wife"). You can contact emmanuellA macron (the rothschild's lackey) here and tell her what you think of her: https://www.elysee.fr/en/contact/ It's a real form that allows people to send message to the 'resident' evil of the Elysee Palace... Don't hesitate to be harsh, emmanuellA likes it hard !

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

  • identicon
    LONG LIVE MICHEL ANGE FLORI, 8 Sep 2021 @ 12:59pm

    MICHEL ANGE FLORI IS A GENIUS - macron is a turd

    MICHEL ANGE FLORI IS A GENIUS ! Well done, and he did it again, reprenting emmanuellE macron, the rothschild's puppet in Marshal petain and in Pinochet... He also did a bildboard where showing two children with the comment "macron doesn't have kids, so he wants to jab yours". emmanuellE macron should be in jail for genocide and crimes vs humanity, like most western "leaders". LONG LIVE MICHEL ANGE FLORI INTERVIEWS OF THE ARTIST (IN FRENCH) https://mrmondialisation.org/michel-ange-flori-lhomme-qui-provoque-les-autorites/ AND HIS TWITTER ACCOUNT: https://twitter.com/MichelFlori/status/1416014754993393667

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


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