Here is a law to chill the bones. A law that comes close to tacitly criminalizing any opposition to its own passage, or having been passed, any voice raised against its operation. To criticize a law could be construed as insulting to its clientele, in this case, of minorities. It cannot be long before such a perfect legal seal will be achieved somewhere in Europe. Observe how far we have come down this road in so few years. The French law on “Equality and Citizenship” has been adopted by the Senate, but certain of its more outrageous provisions are held up in the Constitutional Council, to which a group of conservative senators has appealed.
While railing against communautarisme and ghettoization, western European pedlars of statecraft know perfectly well, as do the people, that nothing can halt them. The evidence is already there, to be officially acknowledged and denied by turns. This law, far from attempting to deal effectively with the toxic ramifications of multiculturalism, is yet another weary example of the Left’s obsession with government by social signalling. Gauchiste governments everywhere, who pride themselves on “keeping well out of citizens’ bedrooms”, think nothing of leaping into their minds in order to form a permanent bridgehead there. A mature nation submits to the rule, not the tutelage, of law. When a political culture regresses under the din of its own accumulating blunders, it re-enters a state of infancy. A government that enacts the kind of monstrous proposals described in the following article from Le Figaro, cannot sensibly be regarded as mature, but merely effete and pusillanimous. Not to say desperate.
The Constitutional Council & The Law on ❝Equality & Citizenship❞
5th January, 2017
ANALYSIS : The judges at the rue Montpensier are expected to hand down, before the end of January, their verdict on a law that contains several controversial measures, explains Guillaume Perrault, senior reporter at Le Figaro.
The law known as “Equality and Citizenship”, as developed and defended by the government, was adopted by the Parliament on the 22nd December, 2016. At the instigation of their president, Bruno Retailleau, senators of the LR party [Les Républicains] appealed to the Constitutional Council. The judges at the rue Montpensier will give their response before the end of January.
The stakes are high: first of all with regard to newspapers and publishing. Certainly, due to the action of journalists’ associations during the review of the text in the Senate, the statute of limitation for internet articles will not be extended from three months to a year, contrary to the wishes of the Haute Assemblée [Senate]. On the other hand, the new law extinguishes some protections in the law of 1881 regarding the offences of incitement to hatred or violence, or of injury or defamation of a discriminatory nature, that is, in relation to a person or group by reason of, particularly, “their origin, membership or non-membership of an ethnic group, a nation, a race, or a religion”. The Council will thus have the ability to reassess the facts during the course of its procedure, where they concern these infractions. The statute of limitation of three months could, moreover, easily be blocked.
A journalist conducting an investigation into an issue that excites the passions — for example, immigration or Islam, or a public figure writing a column for a newspaper, would no longer enjoy the protection of the law of 1881 if they were pursued by militant organizations alleging that their material constituted one of these infractions. As regards the penalty incurred, the law widens the aggravating circumstances for most crimes and offences, whether committed with discriminatory motives, or preceded, accompanied, or followed “by the spoken or written word, images, objects or acts of whatever nature” that “infringe upon the honour of, or consideration for, the victim, or group of persons to which the victim belongs by virtue of his membership or non-membership, real or supposed, of a claimed race, ethnic group, nation, or any religion”. There is no doubt that taking into account these aggravating circumstances will lead to litigation in some cases where freedom of expression and thought is involved.
Other measures in the law excite tense controversy. The reform extends the offence of ‘revisionism’ to apologies, and to denial, dissent or belittling in relation to all crimes against humanity (genocide, enslavement, and war-crimes, as defined by the statutes of the International Criminal Court). Associations constituted to “defend the memory of slaves and the honour of their descendants”, or the memory of victims “of war-crimes or crimes against humanity” or to “fight against discrimination”, will be able to exercise the rights of the plaintiff.
A class-action taken by a legal entity will be eligible for legal aid. Yet, as observed by the senators Les Républicains in their submission, “the judge can already order the defendant to pay an interim award to defray the legal costs of the plaintiff”. Above all, the senators of the Right observe that “a PME [small or medium business], with limited resources, finding itself named as respondent by a trade-union organization, or an association taking part in a class action in matters of discrimination”, could lack the means to prosecute its defence, while the opposing party would itself be at liberty to apply for state aid. The senators (LR) are demanding a level playing field in the name of the right to a defence.
In a cut-and-paste from a European directive, the law anticipates that the CSA [media watchdog] “will monitor radio and television programmes to determine whether they truly represent the diversity of French society, and whether that representation is free of prejudice”. Furthermore, radio and television services are entrusted with the task of contributing “to the fight against sexist prejudice, and prejudices linked to the diversity of French society, when transmitting programmes dealing with these subjects.”
In addition, police officers and gendarmes carrying out identity checks will be systematically filmed by a colleague “in a one-year trial”. The smacking of children is forbidden, because such “corporal punishment” is now categorized as ” cruel, degrading, or humiliating treatment”. The offence of “cyber-hindrance of abortion”, which the government wanted initially to insert into the law, has been definitively adopted, but in the form of a separate Bill. Moreover, the government sees it as within its remit to legislate by decree to make the opening of non-contract private schools, in the sense of the loi Debré, conditional upon prior authorization.
Such, amongst others, are the contentious points of the law. We await with interest the decision of the Constitutional Council.
Translation by Edward Shilling