France Bans Citizens from Reporting Violence

France has made it a crime for anyone other than a “professional journalist” to tape violent crimes.

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

Why do the French hate freedom so? Well, it turns out that they’ve merely taken a sledgehammer to a mosquito:

The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.

One would think that it would be easier to simply pass a law against battery, no? Of course if–as I strongly suspect–it’s already illegal in France to violently attack perfect strangers without provocation, it’s not clear why adding an additional penalty for filming it would curb the practice.

But not to worry: You may soon be able to get a license.

The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules.

I think the Soviet Union had something like that, too.

Judging by the responses at Memeorandum, this law is getting assailed from all quarters. Damian Penny, Michael van der Galiën, Agonist’s Ian Walsh, Rand Simberg, Callimachus, and Irish Trojan’s David K., have weighed in so far. None, to put it mildly, think this a good idea.

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: Europe, Law and the Courts, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Beltway Traffic Jam Colin Powell v. Barack Obama Surge Working? Good News from Sadr City Baptist Head Says Giuliani’s Divorces a Problem CPAC’s Gay Porn Star Honoree Matt Sanchez Iranian General Re-Appears France Bans Citizens from Reporting Violence Fixing the Guard and Army Reserve [IMG OTB Sports] NHL Comissioner Steps Into Penguins-Pennsylvania Talks Jake the Snake to Peace Corps? Gonzaga Wins WCC Tournament Greatest NBA Centers Ever Steroids and Baseball

  2. Anderson says:

    in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.

    Y’know, to the Anglo-American mind, it’s all the better if the criminals preserve a record of the crime — great evidence at trial!

    But doubtless, the French authorities believe that filmed proof of the crime is an intolerable infringement of *their* inquisitorial prerogative.

  3. How Many Times Can One Country Surrender?…

    If you’re talking about France and you put it into mathematical terms, I believe the symbol would be ∞. The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other……

  4. legion says:

    Ummm… doesn’t the EU Constitution have something to say about this? Not that it would stop the French from passing laws, but still…

  5. Triumph says:

    Why do the French hate freedom so?

    It is important to note that Sarkozy is a right winger–and like right wingers in other parts of the world, they are not particularly interested in protecting basic civil rights in the name of “law and order”.

    Interestingly, Segolene Royal–socialist candidate for President has condemned the plan.

    So, it is a bit off a stretch to say “the French” hate freedom–merely French conservatives.

    Legion, the EU doesnt have a constitution–in fact the French voters rejected it two years ago.

  6. legion says:

    Legion, the EU doesnt have a constitution—in fact the French voters rejected it two years ago.

    D’oh! I remember that now. I suppose this makes it that much harder for the EU to justify excluding Turkey…

  7. ken says:

    The conservative attitude toward the French is sick, juvenile and unwarranted by the facts.

    Look, France has a problem with people ‘slap attacking’ an innocent person and having said attack filmed by a friend. Now clearly the attack is against French law so the attacker can be prosecuted. But what about the friend who is filming the attack? Do conservatives condone that kind of behavior? Shouldn’t that person face criminal charges as well?

    What if the film is put on the Internet in order to will further humiliating the victim of the ‘slap attack’?

    Is your screwed up attitudes toward the French such that you think they should tolerate this kind of behavior?

  8. James Joyner says:

    But what about the friend who is filming the attack? Do conservatives condone that kind of behavior? Shouldn’t that person face criminal charges as well?

    Unless you’re suggesting selective enforcement, the law would apply to a whole range of people beyond that. You’d think such conduct would be covered by conspiracy or “aiding and abetting” laws. If not, surely they could narrowly craft a law to take care of this problem?

  9. Billy says:

    Freaking Communists…

  10. carpeicthus says:

    That’s so phenomenally stupid I almost forgive the “Freedom Fries” thing.