French authorities are doing something extraordinarily stupid and counterproductive.
The Associated Press reported Thursday:
French prosecutors filed preliminary charges Thursday against Marine Le Pen for tweeting brutal images of Islamic State violence. The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre said the charges were issued for "distribution of violent images." If the case eventually reaches trial and she's convicted, Le Pen could face up to three years in prison and a 75,000-euro ($90,000) fine.
Le Pen claims the charges are "clearly aimed at silencing me. Yet I will not be silenced.” If convicted, she added, she would consider it a "medal of patriotism and defense of the French people.”
I haven’t much use for Le Pen, or any “blood and soil” nationalist. However, in the specific case of the National Front leader being charged for the so-called crime of sharing disturbing images, I’m decidedly “Team Le Pen.”
Are French prosecutors completely stupid or just mostly so?
In 2015, after Islamic extremists attacked Paris, murdering 137 people and wounding hundreds more, Le Pen tweeted some admittedly gruesome images of Islamic States executions, including the 2014 beheading of American journalist James Foley.
Her overall message was clear: French authorities had not done enough to combat the rise of extremism. They had not taken the threat seriously enough, and now the French are paying the price.
You can argue all the live long day that it was impolite or insensitive for her to tweet the pictures. You can also argue her criticism of French authorities is harsh or unfair. The way the French have responded, however, is nothing short of idiotic.
Nothing says “we’re serious about terrorism" quite like bringing charges against critics who say French leaders aren’t serious about terrorism. Talk about a waste of time and resources. Perhaps that energy would be better spent doing something like — preventing terrorism.
There is also the issue that the charges are blatantly anti-liberty. Yes, France has a different set of laws than the United States. I understand that. But just because it’s law doesn’t make it right, nor does it mean it’s not anti-freedom. Prosecuting a man for un-good tweets is antithetical to personal freedom and liberty regardless of where you are, and you know what they say about unjust laws.