France screws up freedom of speech

The French intended to pass a law banning “happy slapping” — where people beat up someone, record it (usually on a camera phone) and distribute it for the “amusement” of their friends. Instead, the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than “professional journalists” is now a crime.

In a wonderful piece of irony, the French announcement came on the 16th anniversary of the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police, filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday. In France, today, instead of putting police brutality on the record, Holliday’s actions could have earned him 5 years in prison and a €75,000 fine — potentially a harsher sentence than for committing violence in the first place.

[Thanks to my friend Richard for the pointer. See, you have your uses after all.]

One Reply to “France screws up freedom of speech”

  1. Oh, that’s badly worded. It’s the “filming or broadcasting” that has to be performed by professional journalists to make it legal, not the “acts of violence”. Though perhaps journalists might like having the legal power to beat people up. I know I would…

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