Considering Article 19 and 20, should John Galliano be facing charges of incitement to racial hatred?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think what you are essentially asking is whether France's laws against hate speech are incompatible with Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  I would argue that those laws are incompatible with the Declaration and that Galliano should not be facing criminal charges.

Galliano's crime consists mainly, it seems, of saying that he supported Hitler and that he wished more Jews had been killed so that the particular people he was talking to would not have been alive today.  This is clearly offensive, but it also falls under the category of "freedom of opinion and expression" guaranteed by Article 19.

Galliano's opinions and his expression of them did not cause or threaten to cause any physical harm.  They were surely very hurtful, but there are many opinions that clearly should not be banned even though they hurt other people.  Once we start trying to prevent speech that hurts the feelings of some people, we are faced with a Fahrenheit 451 type problem where we essentially are pushed to curtail all expression because all expression can be hurtful to some.

So, I would argue that France's laws do violate the Universal Declaration and Galliano should not be facing criminal charges (he should just have been fired and no other company should hire him).

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