Shut your mouth!

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Catching up on recent news last night (after my attentions had been grabbed by the World Cup lately), I was interested to discover that France has introduced a new law banning insults.

The law aims to curb psychological violence inflicted through words, sms, email, et cetera, particularly on women by their spouses/partners; the reasoning being that words do as much harm as sticks and stones. Any one found guilty of breaking the new law could get up to 3 years in the big house and fined about 90,000 US dollars.

What’s interesting is that the law defines mental violence as “repeated acts which could be constituted by words or other machinations, to degrade one’s quality of life and cause a change to one’s mental or physical state”. So while women’s rights advocates around the world will be celebrating this one, I’m wondering, can this law be invoked where a religious group is targeted? And what kind of physical evidence would support verbal abuse? I wouldn’t go so far as to say France is now ‘criminalising speech’ since this law will probably be used mostly in cases of prolonged/ repeated mental abuse (say in a marriage), but people are arguing that this is a strike against free speech. Opinions?

Of course in Uganda, there’s no need for such a law. Why waste time on verbal abuse when you can pull out your shiny pistol? This MP who allegedly threatened a fuel attendant with physical violence is the same man who would readily ‘be the hangman if his son were gay’. Charming.

Speaking of violence, German fans are apparentlyy now calling for the death of Paul, the psychic octopus who infamously predicted the Spanish win last night. Sigh. First they love you, then they hate you. Poor mollusk was only delivering the message!

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4 responses »

  1. Oh, dear. The Germans should just accept that they were out-classed. They barely even touched the ball the whole game!

    As for the French, that new law definitely messes with freedom of speech. I mean verbal abuse is infinitely preferable to physical abuse, right? And what happens to people who cannot direct their anger into the [arguably] less harmful channel?

    • Well Princess, its hard to generalize which kind is worse. In my opinion it has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. In some cases verbal abuse might be preferable to physical abuse. Its easier to heal from the latter. That said though, many a time physical abuse can/will kill you, maim you, or just scar you for life.

      • thats an interesting way to look at it. Actually most people overlook the damage that can be done by years of verbal abuse. There’s no way this law can be enforced without infringing the ‘freedom’ of speech, but it’s appearing more justifiable each time I consider it

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