Marine Le Pen ordered to undergo psychiatric testing for posting images of ISIS atrocities

This is what happens when countries have hate speech laws.  Here’s a short report from the BBC:


Now I have no use for Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Party and a bigot and a nativist building her career almost entirely on anti-immigrant sentiment. That’s reprehensible, but it’s not a crime. (It also shows how the Right gains power when people don’t take the issue of immigration seriously.) What is her crime? The BBC explains:

A French court has ordered far-right leader Marine Le Pen to undergo psychiatric tests as part of an inquiry into her sharing images of Islamic State group atrocities.

Ms Le Pen tweeted pictures of the court order, calling the move “crazy”.

She posted the images back in 2015, including one showing the decapitated body of IS victim James Foley.

She has been stripped of her immunity as a parliamentarian and she could still face a fine or even jail.

According to the document posted by Ms Le Pen, the judge wants the tests to determine if she suffers mental illness or is “capable of understanding remarks and answering questions”.

These images, of course, are all over the web, and I’ve looked at some of them. (I think that’s the only way to fully apprehend the horror of what ISIS does, but it’s really sickened me.) You may not want to see them, but they’re certainly part of the news. If Le Pen posted them to incite hatred against ISIS—or, more likely, against Muslims in general—I suppose that’s against French hate speech law, which Wikipedia describes as follows:

France’s penal code and press laws prohibit public and private communication that is defamatory or insulting, or that incites discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person or group on account of place of origin, ethnicity or lack thereof, nationality, race, specific religion, sex, sexual orientation, or handicap. The law prohibits declarations that justify or deny crimes against humanity—for example, the Holocaust (Gayssot Act).

Note that if you incite “discrimination against religion”, among other things, that’s a violation of the law. In America it’s not—unless you are inciting clear and present violence against a group. I think the American laws are more sensible given how, at least in the case of religion, the line between “inciting discrimination” and “criticism” is very, very thin. In fact, it’s nonexistent, since many believers, especially Muslims, take criticism of their faith as equivalent to violence and hatred.

The French government can take Le Pen to court for this, though I don’t think that’s a particularly good thing to do, but ordering a psychiatric exam? She’s not mentally ill: she’s a right-wing nativist! This reminds me of when the Soviet Union used to put dissidents in psychiatric facilities (e.g., Roy Medvedev) as a way of removing them from society without killing or imprisoning them. It is, as they say, not good “optics” for a regime, and may well win Le Pen even more supporters.

Here’s Le Pen’s tweet, which Matthew (who speaks fluent French) translated as follows: “It is truly UNBELIEVABLE (literally – hallucinatory). The regime is REALLY starting to be frightening.” You can translate the documents for yourself.

 

h/t: cesar

47 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I’ve little doubt ol’ Marine could use some time on the couch, but ordering her into treatment smacks of Stalin-era revolutionary re-education camps.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Not “treatment” – it’s an assessment to gauge if she’s responsible enough to come before the court.

      • Derec Avery
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        “Not “treatment” – it’s an assessment to gauge if she’s responsible enough to come before the court.”

        ————————————–

        And if it’s determined Le Pen isn’t “responsible enough”? Then it’s off to the psychiatric ward for an indefinite period of time for treatment until such time as the state determines she is “responsible enough” to come before the court.

        This is just another way of getting Le Pen out of the way without having a messy piblic trial or hearing.

        • Derec Avery
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          … messy public trial or hearing.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          You don’t know that – it is your assumption. The assessment apparently is a French court norm & not something cooked up to box in Le Pen. Are you familiar with French legal procedure? I am not & it would be wise to have some facts before having the milk boil over.

          • Derec Avery
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            “You don’t know that – it is your assumption.”

            You’re right. I’m making the reasonable assumption that if the French court finds Le Pen suffers mental illness or is not “capable of understanding remarks and answering questions” then they will remand her to an appropriate institution for treatment until such time that her condition changes and she is able to appear in court to answer for her alleged “crime”. That’s what they do in the United States and I assume they do the same in the French courts.

            “The assessment apparently is a French court norm & not something cooked up to box in Le Pen.”

            Never said it was. But it makes a very good way to get Le Pen out of the way without, as I said, a messy trial for her bad think.

            “Are you familiar with French legal procedure? I am not & it would be wise to have some facts before having the milk boil over.”

            Neither am I. And I never claimed to be an expert on French legal procedure in any case.

            But it all seems to convenient that this order comes at this point – three years after the alleged “crime” was committed.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

              It’s a mistake to bring your knowledge of the American legal system to the entirely alien world of French law. You are probably seeing monsters under the bed that don’t exist & the milk has definitely overboiled. The evaluation is “now” rather than at the time of the alleged offence because “now” is trial time.

              On your only other point worth bringing up:

              Unlike in the USA, in France the guilty defendant can, at sentencing all in one go, be given [1] an exactly specified period of incarceration in a ‘normal’ prison followed by [2] an open ended period at a secure or fairly open mental institution. I don’t know why this is – the French system runs on different foundations with respect to punishment & rehabilitation – perhaps [1] is seen as punishment & [2] as further assessment & correction/treatment. But that’s a wild guess.

      • mikeyc
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Right. You really think that’s what the court had in mind? You think they’re only concerned about her mental health; she is accused of a Thoughtcrime, after all.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          I can’t tell if you are commenting to me or Ken Kekec. BUT if it’s me then my answer is I don’t “think” anything & I’m not jumping to a conclusion [without evidence] that this assessment is especially for her. I suggest you wait for more info too!

          • mikeyc
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            I mean I’m deeply suspicious of the court’s motive here. No matter what you think of Pen’s politics, this stinks of the very kind of totalitarian suppression that so haunted the 20th century. It’s just regular court proceedings does not lessen the suspicion. Evil is, after all, banal.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

              I love French language movies, especially the legals. That’s my knowledge of their law encapsulated, but their system is rather weird – an inquisitorial examining magistrate for example ~ s/he has a lot of powers to control & map out the investigation & the trial procedure. I am supposing this is the type of court dealing with Le Pen, but I could be totally wrong.

              There is plenty of opportunity to influence cases – especially whispers from politicians make a difference in a magistrates future career. I conclude that anything is possible over there. 🙂

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                My knowledge of the Napoleonic Code comes by way of the great legal scholar Stanley Kowalski.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Great little clip. Ta.

  2. Davide Spinello
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    This is why I really hate hate speech laws. At some point we have to delegate to the ministry of truth and love, and hope that He will always be on our side.

    P.S.: in case someone needs clarification, I don’t endorse the actual views of Marine Le Pen.

    • Damien
      Posted September 25, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      This is hate speech laws hate speech.

  3. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Setting aside issues of free speech…

    It seems the psychological exam, is standard French procedure in such investigations & not an unusual requirement at all. Does anybody here know what the French law is on this exactly & in what type of cases it is employed? SOURCE

    • rickflick
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      The exam certainly makes sense. Why don’t US courts use it. It could save a lot of time and expense by not trying someone who’s not competent.

      • mikeyc
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        We do have a means by which those who are so mentally ill that they cannot assist in their own defense are evaluated, but this seems a gross over reach by any reasonable standard.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. 60 IQ on death row & the obviously insane individuals languishing in ‘normal’ prison is a disgrace [UK not innocent on the matter either especially with respect to screwed up ex-military convicts]

        On the face of it Le Pen is making hay here on a point of normal French court procedure – that’s assuming this psychological assessment is applied widely & not just on free speech/hate speech cases. I hope there’s someone here who knows the law over in Frogland.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          The Supremes ruled execution of the mentally retarded unconstitutional in Atkins v. Virginia. It was a long time coming, and it didn’t come soon enough to spare Ricky Ray Rector, the mentally defective inmate candidate Bill Clinton burnished his tough-on-crime bona fides by executing in Arkansas in 1992. That one still frosts my ass every time I think of it.

          Unfortunately, we still execute the mentally ill in the US.

          • mikeyc
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            We elect them to high office too.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

              🙂

    • mikeyc
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it is not an unusual requirement in French courts, but in this case there is no way to get around suspicions of a political motive in the requirement. You’d think the court would have given this some thought before pouring gasoline on the fire. Sometimes smart people do really stupid things.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Maybe so. Or maybe the magistrates had no choice if it’s integral to some types of cases. I don’t have the knowledge.

  4. Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Note that if you incite “discrimination against religion”, among other things, that’s a violation of the law.

    The phrasing quoted only says that “inciting discrimination … against a person or group on account of … religion, …” is against the law.

    Discriminating against people owing to their religion is not the same as “discriminating against religion”.

    Criticising a religion, even forcefully and offensively and with ridicule, does not constitute “discrimination” against members of that religion, which is a point we need to emphasize.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Criticism does not constitute discrimination for sure, but I’m not convinced that it’d considered “inciting discrimination”.

      • Adam M.
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        … it’d never be* considered …

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Charles Martel, the Frankish king who defeated a large invading Arab/Berber army near Tours in 732, must have made many insensitive comments about Islam and about the Saracens, either during that battle, or later during his campaign to drive them from Provence in what is now SE France. He would thus have been guilty of “Islamophobia”, and would surely be subjected to psychological testing today. Mr. Martel is no longer with us, but, quite aside from Marine Le Pen, the court in Nanterre could be expected to order psychiatric assessment for everyone in France who makes reference to Charles Martel, or knows who he was.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I recall reading there was an exam that showed Adolf Eichmann was entirely sane.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes six psychiatrists said he was sane. A career hungry, servile & obedient, middle-ranking, pencil pushing manager who saw the Final Solution from the perspective of logistics. Disconnected from the reality of his decisions & no doubt there’s millions like him wrapped up in the ‘doing’ rather than the ethics – could be a description of any number of human cogs in all corporate machines. From facebook to FEMA to TSA.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Entirely banal, too, if I’m recalling my Hannah Arendt correctly.

      • BJ
        Posted September 25, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        While Arendt’s piece is brilliant in its presentation, its facts about Eichmann’s demeanor and lack of connection to the reality of his actions has been heavily contested by historians. If the historians who have contested Arendt’s piece are correct, I think she did humanity a disservice by presenting Eichmann as she did.

    • Damien
      Posted September 25, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      “I never was an anti-semite.”

      A. Eichmann

      One wonders what would have happened had he been one.

  7. keith
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Marine Le Pen sounds like a reprehensible person, based on what I’ve read, and a jerk (bowdlerized language in deference to Jerry’s site). However, even jerks have rights, like the Westboro Baptist Church and their right to conduct homophobic protests.

  8. eric
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    This is exactly the sort of thing that turns fence-sitters into right-wingers.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Or left-wingers, since both extremist sides tend to become racist et cetera.

      I think if fence-sitters tumble down on the wrong side of the fence, they were leaning already. Better to have it out in the open, perhaps. But again, as I always complain on this area, there is a lot of heat but little cold facts on the matter.

      • Diane G
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        “I think if fence-sitters tumble down on the wrong side of the fence, they were leaning already.”

        Love it! Describes any number of patriotic USian voters who insist they’re as impartial as the day is long.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    It is a bit ironic when someone suspected of being non compos mentis hits back with “no, you are”.

    This is what happens when countries have hate speech laws.

    The correlation is likely that this is what happens when people act crazy, and the laws allow for an investigation. If it goes through, it will be interesting to see what they find.

    • BJ
      Posted September 25, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      What’s the “acting crazy” part here?

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted September 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        It is what The Ministry of Truth and Love considers crazy.

        • Diane G
          Posted September 26, 2018 at 3:51 am | Permalink

          + 1

  10. parisi
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s the standard procedure for those cases in France.
    And it doesn’t imply any treatment whatsoever. It’s more of a formal talk with a doctor to ascertain whether or not the defendant was aware that she publicly exposed images filled with graphic violence. The fact that Marine Le Pen also joined in, among horrible photos, a pic of a renowned beheaded journalist, may have played a role in the decision.

    Actually, she was angrily firing back online at a journalist who drew a comparison between ISIS and the Front national, her party.

    This heated exchange took place 30 days only after the Bataclan and restaurants mass shootings/bombing in November 2015 in Paris. Incidentally, at that time, MLP was already in pre-campaign for the 2017 presidency.

    More info, MLP claims to have changed the party’s name from “Front national” to “Rassemblement national” in March 2018. Still the same poor loony BS, though.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the clarification

  11. Giancarlo
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Stepping back from the morass of hate speech laws and the difficulty of striking a balance between individual freedom and public safety, and skirting the thicket of French law, I find it quite funny that MLP used the term “hallucinant” – literally hallucinatory, but I suspect best translated(as I know it is from Italian) as ” a nightmare.” Funny because the literal translation would seem to imply that MLP herself endorses a flaw in her mental health…

  12. Posted September 25, 2018 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    When will this be applied to popes, bishops, imams, rabbis, …

    I’m not talking about indoctrinated lay people, …

    but those that have studied philosophy, even science, reason, and come to the conclusion that faith and revelation trump reason and science …

    while giving ‘reasons’ why that should be so.

    If that isn’t questionable sanity I’m not sure what is.

  13. Damien
    Posted September 25, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I know next to nothing about the law but I am French.

    The idea that subjecting Marine Le Pen (actually her real name is Marion, I bet her sister wants to be called Air Force or Infantry) is something out of Soviet Union (actually it is Roys Medvedev’s twin brother, Jaurès Medevedev who was locked up in a mental institution, not Roy, but I understand the mistake, nobody can tell them apart) makes me smile.

    She is not going to be locked up. She is not going to be forced into therapy. What kind of country do you think France is ?

    Everybody accused of the same thing namely “diffusion de message violent susceptible d’être vu ou perçu par un mineur” (spreading of a violent message that may reach a minor), has to undergo that mental examination.

    Let me spin it the other way : personal freedom and freedom of speech are valued, they are precious and important to us. When somebody is accused of the aforementioned the judiciary system, in its leniency, helps the accused plead penal irresponsibility, thus offering the accused an easy exit.

    It may very well be a deliberately installed device to dodge a law that otherwise could be used in a tyrannical way.

    Marine Le Pen said she would not go and I sincerely doubt anybody will force her to. Cops have other things to do.

    Marine Le Pen makes a very good (for her) publicity out of her judicial predicaments. This is actually good for her.

    Didn’t see that coming, did you ?


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