Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Babette s'en va-t-en guerre ... Part V!

More Brigitte Bardot news, if you can believe it. Ms. Bardot, a noted animal rights activist, is opposed to the practice of slaughtering sheep without first stunning them, something this Telegraph article links to the Muslim community. In a letter, she decried "this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts."

Well, as we know, in France that's enough to get the authorities' attention. After being charged and convicted of hatred more times than Jean-Marie Le Pen, Ms. Bardot obviously knows the drill. She will not be silenced, she says:

"I will never keep quiet" until animals are stunned before ritual slaughter, she added, saying she was "tired and weary".

But enough about the defendant. You must be wondering how the prosecutor is holding up under the strain. Well might you wonder:

"I too am tired and weary", said the prosecutor Anne de Fontette, pointing out that Miss Bardot had been convicted four times since 1997 on similar charges.

"She might as well write that Arabs should be thrown out of France", she said. "It is time to hand out heftier sentences".

One can't fault the prosecutor's logic here. Nominal fines are never going to be enough to silence people who have strong beliefs. Eventually, every censor realizes this. You either have to get serious and start locking people up for saying unpopular things, or you have to concede that government should not be in the business of policing political speech. You may not hear them speaking up these days (probably because of all the publicity from Ezra Levant and Maclean's), but there are many very intelligent people in Canada who would like to see our censorship regime cover a lot more ground than it does now. If you like the approach France is taking, you may agree.