Le Pen Ordered Into Psychiatric Evaluation For Tweets In France

libertyFar right political leader, Marine Le Pen, has been ordered into psychiatric evaluations after she posted graphic images of bodies of people executed by the Islamic State.  She was accused under the French laws criminalization different forms of speech — laws that I have long criticized as part of a European rollback on core free speech rights.  Posting the pictures was charged as circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity” and that can be viewed by a minor.

The posting by Le Pen occurred after the Paris terror attacks in November 2015 killing 130 people. The images included the decapitated body of US journalist James Foley, which Le Pen deleted at the request of the family.  She wrote a caption reading “Daesh is this!” That seems core political speech, but in France even offensive or insulting speech can be a crime.

Le Pen will now be required to prove that she “is capable of understanding remarks and answering questions.”  Le Pen has responded with outrage over the demeaning evaluation, which is automatic with this type of charge.

There are plenty of good-faith reasons to disagree with the views of Le Pen and the tweeting of images of this kind.  However, this is also part of an alarming assault on free speech in Europe and the addition of a mandatory psychiatric evaluation raises analogies to authoritarian countries like China.  We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).

The order was issued by the district court in Nanterre on September 11th.
Once again, none of this goes to the merits of Le Pen’s views or postings.  Rather France is quickly becoming one of the most speech-intolerant countries in the world. we do not need free speech to protect popular speech.  It is there for the unpopular views of minority viewpoints.  We tolerate such speech to avoid the very slippery slope that France is careening down in these endless prosecutions of speech.
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