Far Right France Leader Jean-Marie Le Pen Found Guilty and Fined For “Contesting Crimes Against Humanity”

I have been a long critic of the criminalization of speech in Europe and particularly in France. An ever-expanding range of speech is being subject to charges in France as racially or culturally or religiously insensitive. The latest such example is the $34,000 fine imposed on former far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for calling the Nazi gas chambers a “detail” of World War Two. I can certainly understand the anger over the comment and it may indeed reflect a questioning of the holocaust. However, it is also free speech that should be protected in France and other countries.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws.

Some countries have specifically sought to criminalize certain opinions about history, particularly over genocide. Poland recently passed such a law. Russia moved in 2015 to criminalize denial of genocide under the same misguided approach. I previously wrote about a similar law passed in France as not just a denial of free speech but academic freedom. The law was later struck down. The Russians moved just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland also violation freedom of speech for its criminalization of the denial of the killings of Armenians as genocide. The European Court of Human Rights found that Switzerland violated a Turkish politician’s right to freedom of speech by convicting Dogu Perincek for denying that the 1915 Armenian killings in the Ottoman empire constituted a genocide: “It was undisputed that Perincek’s conviction and punishment, together with the order to pay compensation to the Switzerland-Armenia Association, had constituted an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”

In this latest case, Le Pen was convicted of contesting crimes against humanity. He was previously convicted of the same charge in 2012 after saying France’s Nazi occupation had been “not particularly inhumane.” In 2014 he said that the Ebola virus could solve Europe’s “immigration problem.” I find all of these statements to be horrific and disturbing but that is not the point. They happen to be Le Pen’s view of history. He is wrong. However, I would prefer to debate and denounce him over such differences, not prosecute him.

Le_Pen,_Marine-9586Le Pen is so extreme that his own daughter, Marine, expelled him from their party. Notably, in 2015, Marine Le Pen was acquitted of inciting hatred after comparing French Muslims to the Nazis who occupied France during the war. Regardless of the outcome, these prosecutions create a chilling effect on speech and seek to coerce people into adopting the majoritarian view of policies or history. It is not about Le Pen over his hateful views. It is free speech as a defining principle of Western Civilization.

21 thoughts on “Far Right France Leader Jean-Marie Le Pen Found Guilty and Fined For “Contesting Crimes Against Humanity””

  1. Weekends are made for Michelob. We need Cara.

    Back on topic: That photo of Jean Marie Penn sure depicts a dork. Why does the guy have a female name?

  2. Improve the articles posted by JT. The comments will evolve upward. Too many articles on people getting fired or punished for saying things at work, at school, or somewhere on the web. Where is Cara at? She is a good article person.

  3. Paul – It’s actually more like twelve, but don’t let that slow you down. And even though the FBI doesn’t actually indict people, Drudge has them indicting her before sundown. Annnnnnnny second now…

  4. What randyjet said.

    There are plenty of interesting court cases, SCOTUS decisions, actual legal and Con Law stories galore.
    Somehow this blog has devolved into:
    -Random posts about stupid things libruls are doing with their over-sensitivity to so-called microagressions and political correctness.
    -Posts about Hillary and how the 2 million FBI agents working on her email SCANDAL are about to indict her in the next twenty minutes and if they don’t then we’ll always have Vince Foster and the 300 state troopers she killed with her bare hands.
    -Or racially charged posts designed to elicit racist comments (quite successfully I might add), from the resident far right regressives.

    Really a shame. Also a shame to see that the comments devolve so quickly into personal insults and people trying to do Rovian jiu-jitsu and failing miserable.

    1. phillyT – I think there are only 147 FBI agents working on the emails and Clinton Foundation.

  5. randyjet, I have been following this blog for a few years and agree the substantive discussion in the comments has declined significantly, but I am not sure placing limits on who is allowed to post is the answer. I think this is the reality we live in today–more than not are incapable of in-depth, critical thought/discussion, much less civil discussion of opposing views.

  6. This blog is supposed to be one that deals with legal issues, but unfortunately it has devolved into a simple Jerry Springer kind of thing with nuts, racists, and Nazis running amok. I think it is time for Prof Turley to place some limits on who is allowed to post since there are some who are beyond the pale, and are paid trolls as well. Most of the older hands have all bailed since there is so little substantive discussion. It is too bad since I used to be able to learn from most of those who posted here.

  7. Free speech issues are why I came here, and JT is relentless in his protection of free speech from a full assault.

  8. I heard this morning on the news that the French are criminalizing paying for sex. Sex workers (who are unionized in France) are up in arms over this bad law.

  9. The notion of the Holocaust was to exterminate an ethnic/religious group and to suppress free speech. If France were to round up all the muslims in France then their population would be down by about fifteen percent. Wages would go up. The Frogs have demonstrated in the past their ability to do the round up and mass extermination.

  10. hinky-

    Good comments. Criminalizing language clearly adds validity to the language which is criminalized. Criminalizing language implies that lawmakers fear the truth.

  11. Holocaust denial is a serious crime in many countries of Western Europe and even Canada. Although saying that millions of persons (predominately Jewish people) were not systematically murdered under the Nazis is historically wrong and stupid, this only is an expression of an idea. My issue with a government attempting to suppress an opinion, no matter how idiotic, is that government attack on an idea somehow gives some credibility to the suppressed idea (even if the opinion has no credibility). Thus, criminalizing expression of a stupid idea is counterproductive. If expressing stupid ideas were criminal, there would be a lot of persons in jail in Kentucky who think the Earth is less than 10000 years old.

  12. Our own American government overlooked much if not all of the Vichy French participation in the Holocaust because we were afraid that the Communists might take over France after WWII and we wanted to support Charles de Gaulle. We even let the Frogs participate in the prosecution of the Germans for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials. I think that we prosecuted Marshall Petain the Vichy leader and that was it.

    France deserves all the Muslims whom they let in. France had colonies all over the Muslim world and this is payback. France is going to hell in the handbasket. Viva Le Vichy!

  13. There needs to be some discussion here of French Frog Holocaust participation. If you folks may recall, in 1940 the Germans quickly defeated the Frog military and there was a settlement. The French kept intact about a third to half of their nation and ruled it under the Vichy government with the Capital in Vichy France. The right wing Vichy government and its army, employees, and followers rounded up Gypsies and Jews for and with the German nazis until war’s end. The French was just as guilty as the Krauts. This Jean Le Pen needs to be locked up in the pen. Perhaps re-open Buchenwald for him and his offspring. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

  14. Please get the word “disturbing” out of your vocabulary. You overuse it and it makes you sound like a sissy.

  15. This is absolute tyranny when the Zionists controlled West is fining and jailing people for freedom of speech and telling the truth-the Holocaust is a hoax, no where near 6 million Jews were killed in death camps (these were labor camps) Zionist Jews worked hand in hand with Hitler,
    and many of the atrocities carried out against Jews were other Jews, the fraud surrounding WWII, Hitler, the Jews, the Allies is so filled with lies, distortions, chicanery, theft, fraud, stealing all of Germany’s gold and machinery, lands, coal, resources, etc. not to mention the extortion of so called reparations for decades,
    I hope the Germans know that the American people have always had high regards for the German people and hope to see justice over these lies and distortions

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