In the weeks following the 4 million-strong "Je Suis Charlie" protests defending free speech, nearly 50 sentences have been recorded for 'Apologie du terrorisme' (incitement to terrorism). Today's new low is the arrest of an 8 year-old boy who cried out his opposition to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, in his primary school in Nice. Although local police deny having arrested him, his lawyer has tweeted that his arrest warrant clearly states he was arrested on charges of inciting terrorism.
So far, no comment from UK media on this. Why?
French authorities seem to have no trouble squaring this circle. In the name of freedom of speech, dozens of people have been arrested, several convicted to harsh jail sentences for claiming to support the shooters or making comments in public places supporting radical Islam.
The Nouvel Observateur records several sentences handed to people who were either drunk, or under the influence of heavy medication such as Valium while they made these comments,
The measures are part of an anti-terror crackdown, launched with full governmental support, in which Christiane Taubira has explicitly requested local judges to hand out sentences to those who 'incite hatred' or 'make antisemitic comments'.
This means that radical or antisemitic speech is currently punishable to the same tune as theft or bodily harm. And UK news outlets such as The Independent, who rushed to the support of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, have done nothing to bring these incidents to our attention.
I certainly don't support radical Islam, nor do I defend antisemitic or religious extremism in any of its forms. But to arrest children and drunk or drugged people because of their idiotic comments... Voltaire must be spinning in his grave.
What exactly would Voltaire make of all this? Not much, I daresay.