Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Brigitte Bardot fined for "racism"

France's 1960s screen icon Brigitte Bardot received a 15,000-euro (23,000 dollar) fine on Tuesday for inciting hatred against Muslims and for "racism." This was the incendiary comment she made regarding Muslims in France:

I've had enough of being led by the nose by this whole population which is destroying us, (and) destroying our country by imposing their ways.

That merited a $23,000 fine! Bardot, now 73 and suffering from arthritis, was absent from Tuesday's court hearing in Paris. She wrote to the court saying: "I'm sickened by how (these organisations) are harassing me." Bardot already has four convictions on similar charges. In 2004 she was fined 5,000 euros for inciting racial hatred in her book "Un Cri Dans le Silence" (A Cry in the Silence).

I certainly don't agree with everything Bardot says; her criticisms against Muslims were initially fuelled by her devotion to the animal rights cause and her insistence that Musims stun animals before killing them for the Aid al-Kabir holiday. But I ardently opposed to anybody getting fined or penalized for "racism." Racism, as evidenced by it's English suffix -ism, is an idea, a belief, an ideology. Law ought not penalize beliefs or ideas, only actions. That is why in America (at least for the present moment), racism itself is not a crime, only unjust acts committed because of race. Thus, we have crimes such racial discrimination and racial intimidation, which are based on actions, not on ideas. Law goes too far when it attempts to pass judgment on ideas rather than on actions.

There is an attempt to blend these concepts together in the idea of a "hate crime." A hate crime law is a law which, while purporting to judge a person's actions, actually ends up judging his thinking and makes certain actions 'thought crimes.' Now, thought is often taken into consideration in legal cases in the area of motive and intentionality (ie, the difference between first and third degree murder). However, what is examined is the intentionality of the crime with regards to how purposeful its commission was by the offender, which of course is directly related to the assigning of punishment.

But with a hate crime, the judgment is not on intention but on belief, not on how purposeful you were in the execution of your act, but in what you believed about the person you committed it against, which is completely different and has no bearing on the serverity of the crime whatsoever. A hate law in effect says this: criminal A beats up victim A because he wants to steal victim A's shoes. Criminal B beats up victim B because victim B belongs to an ethnic group whom criminal B does not like.

Now, according to a hate crime law, the actions of criminal B is somehow worse than that of criminal A. Both beat up an innocent person. Both did it intentionally. But because criminal B also happened to dislike the ethnic group of victim B, his crime is worse. Now, I am for punishing crime, of course, but we must make sure that the punishment we are meting out is for the crime, and not the thought. If criminal B's crime were a hate crime, he would get a stiffer sentence.

Criminal A: assault & battery-3 years
Criminal B: ethnic intimidation, racial aggravation - 10 years

In this scenario, there is a difference of seven years in the sentence (and I just pulled those numbers out of thin air, but they represent a real ratio). In effect we are saying this: criminal B, you are being sentenced to 10 years in prison: 3 years for the beating, and 7 years for your racist ideas. Is that just?

It is unjust for two reasons: first, as I mentioned already, it oversteps the boundary of law by punshing thought instead of action. Second, it demeans victims of other crimes but saying that their injuries are not as serious just because they weren't victims fo racism. So, victim A may have been beaten just as badly or even worse than victim B, but his aggressor will get less time just because he was not racially motivated.

Also, I would say that the lines of what exactly constitutes a hate crime are much too vague for a legal system to deal with. For example, Ms. Bardot's comments about a "population" leading us "by the nose" and destroying France by "imposing their ways" are terribly subjective. The weight of the law seems to rest not on what was actually done, but on how people reacted to it. So, by this logic, if an inflammatory depiction of Jesus or Mary is created by a decadent modern artist and nobody complains, then it is nothing. But if a cartoon of Mohammed sparks outcries of racism and injustice from the Muslim world, then that artist has a fair chance of being charged with racism and inciting violence.

Furthermore, what if the inflammatory statement is simply a point of fact? For example, to say, "French Muslim neighborhoods are run down and are the scene of much crime." Muslims would surely be out int he streets protesting such a statement as racist and inflammatory. But it clearly expresses no opinion whatsoever but merely states a matter of fact. In this case, truth itself becomes the crime and a person can be fined for simply pointing out the obvious.

This is what we'll have to deal with here once Barack and his liberal-wacko friends take over next year.


Anonymous said...

Since I don't have, and don't intend to purchase or read his book, I can only cut/paste this offering on the black (what about the half that is white) BObama:

This is for all you Barack voters.

From Barack's book, Audacity of Hope:

'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'


Maybe the truth is that he is half white, and half wright. And you get them both for what they are worth.


Anonymous said...

France must come to reaslize the disaster they are bringing upon herself by letting the country be taken over by Musilms, before it is too late. The situation is so sad. Hopefully there is still time. Although I do not agree with all Bardot's beliefs, on this topic I am glad she is speaking out!