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Bardot and Free Speech in Europe

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 04, 2008

Brigitte Bardot, a French film star of the 1960’s who was arguably the world’s first sex symbol, is now 73 years old. She is back in the news because she was fined nearly $25,000 by a Paris court yesterday for hate speech against Muslims. This resulted from an open letter she wrote to French President Nicolas Sarkozy in December of 2006 in which, referring to Muslims, she stated: “I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts.”

The case took nearly eighteen months, so it must have been a tough one for the court. Presumably there was no doubt that Bardot’s remarks constituted “hate speech”. Could there be anything worse than self-describing oneself as “fed up” with some group of people? Really, one is surprised she didn’t go to jail. Truth to tell, she almost did get a 60-day suspended sentence. It was her fourth offence, after all.

Ah, but perhaps we should ask why she said what she said? Well, she’s a member of the glitterati, so naturally she was defending animal rights. Undoubtedly that’s why the case took so long, and why she only got another fine. Talk about your tough decisions. It turns out that Bardot has been very critical of Muslim religious festivals at which sheep are slaughtered as a sacrifice. It was the festival of Eid al-Adha that prompted her open letter. As her attorney said, “She has the impression that people want to silence her. She will not be silenced in her defense of animal rights.”

Sic transit gloria mundi!

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