French to Crack Down on Hate Speech, Including the Anti-Religious Kind, “In Much the Same Way [As] Pedophilia”

Recently, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced that she wants the power to quash speech as she and her government see fit, stripping judicial niceties from the process of shutting people up, says Paris-based news outlet France24.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has said she will push for legal reforms that would help French authorities crack down on racism and anti-Semitism online in much the same way they do with pedophilia. The proposals include empowering French authorities to shut down websites hosting content that is deemed illicit without prior court approval.

“Crimes recognized in public spaces must also be recognized as such on the Internet,” Taubira [said], echoing other recent statements on combating terrorism. “Our challenge is to find the most appropriate responses, but we are determined to wage an unmerciful battle against racism and anti-Semitism on the Internet.”

Almost no one likes hate speech, but neither should the government of a modern, secular state be in the business of defining and targeting it… unless and until it rises to the level of incitement. It’s fairly easy to get people to agree (as do I) that racist and anti-Semitic invective should not be tolerated. For me, that means that sanctions should be social, from verbal pushback to full-throated rebuttals to ostracism.

Intemperate words and pictures are rarely, I think, a matter for the police or the courts.

Taubira’s well-intentioned but dangerous proposal has every likelihood of defining public discourse down to the comfort level of the most thin-skinned and vocal members of society. And I predict that this will please and benefit no group quite as much as French Muslims who believe that the Charlie Hebdo victims had it coming. The hate-speech crackdown will feel like vindication to them, and/or like a government-endorsed justification après la lettre.

Brendan O’Neill at Reason explains how illiberal France’s plan is:



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New York City Just Expanded Its Recognized Religious Holidays For Schoolkids. Here’s Why That’s Wrong

My friend Marc Randazza, a First-Amendment attorney, has a sweet piece up at CNN about officially-recognized religious holidays.

I wish the headline were different: “Why schools should observe ‘Day of the Dude'” (a reference to The Big Lebowski) is going to cause lots of people to click through to something less seemingly absurd. In fairness, absurdity is exactly the thing Marc was going for with his argument — in a good way. Follow along:

Schools in New York City have decided to observe two Muslim holidays and close schools for them. After all, for decades, kids have gotten Christian and Jewish holidays off.

But that’s the wrong approach, Marc argues:

First of all, virtually every recognized religion is practiced in New York City. Unfortunately, now only three of them have some kind of “officially acknowledged” status. Christians, Jews and Muslims have their holidays off, but what about New York’s other religions? What about my religion? March 6 has long been “The Day of the Dude,” and as a Dudeist minister, should I not demand respect for my beliefs, by insisting that the school district “take ‘er easy” on that date every year?



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FOX News Hires Alveda King, Who Is Anti-Abortion and Anti-Divorce Despite Having Obtained Several of Each Herself

A new face on FOX News:

Fox News has signed Alveda King, the niece of civil-rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., as a contributor, Fox president Roger Ailes announced [on Friday]. King will provide regular social and cultural commentary across the network lineup.

Alveda has brilliantly carried the legacy of the King family to the next generation and has been a source of inspiration for many Americans,” Ailes said in making the announcement. “Her passion and mission for social change will be a valuable contribution to our network.”

And how has Ms. King, 64, advanced the cause of human freedom?



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U.S. ISIS Fan Says He Planned to Kill Obama, and Pipe-Bomb “Buildings Full of Kafir”

Chris Cornell (not, not that one) was planning to get very busy.

An Ohio man claiming sympathy with Islamic State militants and charged with plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol said in a television interview that he would have shot President Barack Obama in the head. Christopher Cornell, 20, told Cincinnati’s FOX 19 WXIX TV that if he had not been arrested by FBI agents in January, he would have carried out an alleged plot to plant pipe bombs on the Capitol and at the Israeli Embassy.

In mid-January, FBI agents arrested him at a local gun shop after Cornell bought two AR-15 rifles and 600 rounds of ammo. The FBI knew what Cornell was up to after he talked to an undercover agent about his murderous intentions. Initially, news reports only said that he had planned to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

In the TV interview, conducted over the phone, Cornell got a lot more explicit about his intentions.



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In New Netflix House of Cards Episode, Frank Underwood Spits On a Crucifix, and Real-Life Christians Are Appalled

Frank Underwood is a pretty loathsome man, but that’s par for the course when you’re a screen villain.

Underwood is the always-scheming, almost comically insincere Democratic congressman from South Carolina who is the main character in the Netflix series House of Cards. He is played with admirable skill and gusto by Kevin Spacey. I’m only about 10 episodes into season one, but today I skipped ahead to the just-posted third season. That’s because the ending of one new chapter in particular — number 30, or the fourth episode in the new batch — is causing much wrath and condemnation among Christians:

“How Hollywood Spits on Christianity,” blares Robert Davi on Breitbart.com.

“Shame on Netflix: House of Cards Spits In the Face of Jesus,” harrumphs Tim Graham at Newsbusters.

Graham describes what upsets him so: Frank Underwood visits an empty church, has a brief theological discussion with a bishop who says there are really only two rules in life (love God and love your neighbor), and finally asks for time alone to pray at the altar. So far, so pious. But then — oh, the humanity!

[Underwood] sidles up to the crucifix — just a few feet above his head — and mutters most cynically to God the Son. “Love…. that’s what you’re selling? Well, I don’t buy it!” Then he spits in the face of Christ.

When he gets out a handkerchief to wipe off his offense, the whole thing shatters on the floor. He instructs the Secret Service to clean up his mess, and walks off with a ceramic ear. “Well, I’ve got God’s ear now,” he quips.



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