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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

France's Ban On Hate Speech Goes Too Far

Punishing opinion, even when hateful, only undermines the very freedoms France claims to be protecting.
Right idea, wrong tools.

Right idea, wrong tools.

Photographer: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced last week his government’s plan to “fight racism” to much fanfare. The cause is a worthy one (who can be against fighting racism?), but sadly the plan is a disaster.

The government wants to make it much easier to ban any online content deemed to be racist or to be “promoting hatred.” One might ask why the urgency when, according to the official figures, hate crimes are down 16 percent from last year. French President Emmanuel Macron clearly feels it's an issue that resonates with voters.