England Bans Comedian For Hateful Jokes and Gestures

220px-DieudoWe have been following the prosecution of French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, 46, for hateful speech in France, particularly his alleged anti-Semitism. While I do not consider Dieudonne funny in the slightest and rather offensive, the prosecution reaffirms the growing divide between the United States and its closest allies over free speech. Now, England has magnified those concerns by barring Dieudonne from entering the country. This sounds strikingly like the equally controversial move against Michael Savage.

We have been following (here and here and here and and and here and and here and here) the worsening situation in England concerning free speech. As noted in a recent column, free speech appears to be dying in the West with the increasing criminalization of speech under discrimination, hate, and blasphemy laws.

300px-Quenelle_gestureDieudonne M’Bala M’Bala likes to target Jews in his popular shows. He has already been hit with fines approaching $100,000 for his jokes. He has been particularly called out for his use of a provocative arm gesture called the “quenelle,” described as an upside-down Nazi salute as well as far right references (as shown by a different man in this picture), He has also joked about gas chambers in his recent jab at Jewish radio presenter Patrick Cohen. Dieudonne remarked that “[w]hen I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I tell myself, you know, the gas chambers… A shame.” He has also expressed admiration for Iran’s leader and described Holocaust commemorations as “memorial pornography.”

While I understand the anger, I remain stuck on the denial of free speech and association. Comedy is often a form of political speech and a vehicle of association. M’Bala has a right to speak his mind against different groups and the use of the quenelle is not unlawful and should not be unlawful as a form of speech. For those of us who find his humor offensive, free speech offers an ample vehicle to respond. Instead his critics are using the power of the state to punish him for speaking his mind, even in the form of jokes.

According to reports, Dieudonne was going to visit his friend French footballer, Nicolas Anelka. It was an interesting reason since Anelka was sanctioned for using the “quenelle” during a goal celebration in December. The men insist that the salute is not fascistic but anti-government. For many free speech advocates, it does not matter what the message of the salute may be. It is a form of speech that should be protected as a basic civil liberties.

England is not alone in such denials. Indeed, this country has engaged in such questionable practices. However, both France and England have plunged headlong into the uncertain waters of government speech regulations and prosecutions. It is only likely to get worse as different groups demanding actions on their own black listed individuals. Then the joke will be on us as the West guts free speech in the name of tolerance.

23 thoughts on “England Bans Comedian For Hateful Jokes and Gestures”

  1. I am for free speech but everything people say should be considered free speech like ” Fire in a crowded room when there is no fire, or taunting someone for their race or ethnicity to get them to react violently. so i say taunting Jews by Nazi behavior is not free speech. Keep it in debates of ideology and politics but not personally. I would not let him in to provoke our society. Why put up with all the problems and cost. Keep him in France.

  2. In Britain you can be ruled against for defamation of character or libel (one or other or both) even if you prove your statement was true. Left over from the lords & peasants days I suppose, though we’re all peasants to the Illuminati & their lackeys. Entering another country has become a privilege but if I were king of the world I’d make it a right as long as you can support yourself. The AntiDefamation League is ridiculously powerful; I’ve had every sympathy for Jews in the distant past but current Jews & their supporters (including a lot of politicians) don’t know what a monster they are helping, while Israel treats its Arab citizens like the slave race in the movie Alien Nation. I’m still country hopping & although we get more travel privileges with European/US/Can Aus/NZ/Jap/Sing passports, we are still limited quite a bit; to get into a country like the Philippines without planning my final exit ticket, I have to buy a throwaway ticket to somewhere close but out of the country.

  3. Amendment IX: The Enumerated in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    The right to travel is an unalienable right and the “world” was much better off when it protected it.

  4. JT, I just tried to post the link to live coverage of the debate. It will not go through. That is just ridiculous! I will now try to put the link to the article in and see if that works.

  5. Trying again. Bill Nye, the Science guy is debating at the Creation Science Museum tonight at 7 p.m. Like link will be put in another attempt to get this through.

    JT, I often can’t get my posts to come through. There is also a problem showing up with links on your site on Naked Capitalism. It’s not just me, there is a problem. People at NC are saying they can’t get links to work on your site.

  6. Censorship through the control of one’s borders. It certainly shows what the UK gov’t’s intentions are. If it had the legal authority to censor individuals within its borders they would not hesitate to do so.

  7. I wonder if our movement towards the banning of “hate speech” here in the US has created a dialogue permissive of anti-free speech thinking and legislation world wide. We use to promote the growth and spread of ideas conducive to freedom. Now Putin is envious of our internal spy apparatus. The slippery slope happens to be real.

    1. It is real, Tony. The US are the implicit permissioner, in that people, worldwide look up to its people, and governments, worldwide, look up to its government. Whatever the US do has a built-in approval/permission in it, that influences the rest of the world. It is the big brother whose behavior raises the bar or lowers it for the younger siblings.

  8. Interestingly, DIeudonne was sued often and fined for comments he made that were deemed antisemitic, yet he has said just as offensive comments against the Iranian Mullahs, and generally against Islam, without much issue. One of his comedy show features, through him, the 911 hijackers, and generally Islam, but so far, no one has made a fuss about it. He, furthermore, makes fun of Africans (his father is), the French colonists, Blacks and everyone else in French society. The fact that he is framed solely as an antisemite is reflective of exactly what he rails against, the hijacking of the business of offense, and the use of the media and the courts to enforce that monopoly to offense.
    Interestingly, again, when Dieudonne sued one of his opponents who appeared on a tv show and in response to Dieudonne’s name being brought up, replied: Makes sense, he is just a nigger!, that suit was just dismissed, which Dieudonne uses to prove his point.

  9. There is a sorta stigma that even networks won’t run a show unless there is a proper balance….of races…. Even content is controlled to some extent…. Are we really that much different…. Heck… Even Bob Dylan has an arrest warrant out in France or there a outs for signing a song that blasted I think the Croatians…..

  10. Europe @ bat, w/ the US on deck. The PC folks here have been chomping @ the bit. The universities are putting out students ready to be part of the bureaucracy of Speech Control.

  11. Jill, WordPress has been really cranky. I’ve tried to post a comment on another thread 5 times. Might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  12. The problem is that to be granted a visa is not a right. The UK has no power to restrict his freedom of expression. There is no rights-based mandate to require admission of foreign controversialists. The US occasionally does the same thing. In fact I’m fully behind the movement to have Beiber deported.

  13. Is the motivation for these totalitarian trends about political correctness or about increasing the power of the state?

  14. History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history“, said Clarence Darrow.

    The groundhog day movie theme lives in supreme places:

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told law students at the University of Hawaii on Monday that the nation’s highest court was wrong to uphold the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the court issued a similar ruling during a future conflict.

    Scalia was responding to a question about the court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the convictions of Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu for violating an order to report to an internment camp.

    “Well of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again,” Scalia told students and faculty during a lunchtime Q-and-A session.

    Scalia cited a Latin expression meaning, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.”

    (Huffington Post). Sounds like the legal profession in England and the U.S.eh? are not kicking the authoritarian habit.

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