Bob Dylan: France’s ‘Hate Speech’ Lawsuit DroppedBy: Tina Volpe - April 15, 2014
The lawsuit claimed that he appeared to compare Croatians to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, a court official said Tuesday.
But the prosecutors changed their minds and are going after the publisher of Rolling Stone French edition, insisting that they face trial because they printed Dylan’s comments in a 2012 issue.
Any type of racist or hate speech is banned in France, in any form.
Magistrate Marion Potier said on Monday that she had dismissed Mr. Dylan’s case because after a lengthy investigation, she came to the conclusion that the legendary singer gave the interview to the U.S. publication without authorizing it to also be published in France.
“I am very happy to see that French justice understood that Bob Dylan never wanted to insult anyone,” his French lawyer, Thierry Marembert, said.
But the publisher didn’t get off so easily – Mr. Michel Birnbaum of Rolling Stone, France – was charged with violating anti-discrimination laws, and faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of €45,000 ($62,000), the court official said.
The preliminary charges filed against Dylan were listed as “public insult and inciting hate” in November, just before he was honored by France’s culture minister, who called him “a hero for young people hungry for justice and independence.”
Apparently the case against Dylan stemmed from a complaint by a Croatian organization in France, claiming the comments were an insult and provocation to racial or ethnic hatred. But the comments he made were taken completely out of context and misunderstood.
Dylan, who was raised in northern Minnesota, spoke at length in the interview about racism in America, calling it “the height of insanity.”
The racist comments alleged in Dylan’s interview went like this:
“Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery—that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke…and they can’t pretend they don’t know that,” Mr. Dylan was quoted as saying. “If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
But Croatians are sensitive when being compared to Nazis because of the mass killing of Serbs, Jews and others by the State of Croatia, which was a Nazi Germany ally during World War II. Certainly not any more sensitive than Jews, however.
Image via Wikimedia Commons