France criminalizes insults

Showing once again that Europe’s commitment to free speech is tenuous at best, the French parliament has approved unanimously a bill that makes insulting your spouse a crime:

Couples who insult each other over their physical appearance or make false accusations about infidelity face jail, under a new French law making “psychological violence” a criminal offence.

The law – the first of its kind – means that partners who make such insults or threats of physical violence faces up to three years in prison and a €75,000 (£60,000) fine.

French magistrates have slammed the new legislation as “inapplicable”, as they argue the definition of what constitutes an insult is too vague and verbal abuse too hard to prove.

Nadine Morano, the junior family minister, told the National Assembly that “we have introduced an important measure here, which recognises psychological violence, because it isn’t just blows (that hurt), but also words.”

Miss Morano said the primary abuse help line for French women got 90,000 calls a year, with 84 per cent concerning psychological violence.

And no, I’m not minimizing domestic abuse, but I have to agree with the French judges that this is just too vague to be good law, let alone the obvious problems arising from the state inserting itself into private life and criminalizing offensive speech.

So, the next time she asks “Does this make me look fat?”, think twice about your answer, Pierre; it may cost you more than just a night on the couch.

Via The Jawa Report, which has the best observation:

Of course, at the outset someone should clarify whether referring to French as “surrender monkeys” is now a crime. Surely, it’s insulting to somebody.

Nah. Not if truth is a defense.

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