What France is becoming should not surprise you

Recently, France has passed a law banning people from paying for sex, with clients facing fines of €3,750 if they flout the law. Apparently, prostitution is not a crime in France, but paying for it is, which basically means that the French government isn’t criminalizing sex workers, but rather banning people from paying them for their services. If you think that sounds stupid then guess what? It is. Seriously, how do you ban people from paying for sex work without criminalizing prostitution as a whole? How does that work? It doesn’t. If your government wants to ban people from paying for sex, you might as well just criminalize prostitution altogether because the whole point of prostitution is that one person pays another for sexual services. It’s fairly obvious that laws like this exist only to work against the sex industry. The people passing these laws seem to not want to punish sex workers directly so they want to punish the clients instead – but such a thing by itself is a punishment of sex workers because it directly harms their industry as a whole. If you want to protect sex workers, just decriminalize prostitution as a whole and allow sex workers to operate in a regulated industry. The pimps and traffickers can’t exploit sex workers if they operate in an environment where their rights are protected by the law. But of course, that’s common sense, and governments don’t often consistently operate under common sense.

To be honest, though, I actually don’t feel too surprised with this law being passed in France. The French government has made notable moves towards authoritarianism before, despite their president Francois Hollande’s claims that their country values freedom (specifically freedom of speech). In 2011, France banned Muslims from performing street prayers in the absence of adequate mosques, apparently to appease the French far-right’s concerns that the street prayers are a sign of “invasion”. In 2010, the French government passed a law banning the wearing of the burqa, the traditional veil often worn by women in Islamic culture. Four years later, the ban was inexplicably upheld in the European court of human rights. The law was passed on the pretense of preserving the freedom of women, presumably under the delusion that women only wore the burqa under coercion, but anyone who knows anything about freedom and liberty can inform you that it is totally possible to wear a burqa by choice and that banning the burqa does nothing to protect the civil liberties of women. Just last year, in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists, the French authorities arrested the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala over apparent anti-Semitic remarks and for supposedly inciting racial hatred and sympathizing with one of the attackers, and he was also given a jail sentence in Belgium on similar charges. He’s been sentenced seven years imprisonment for the specific charge of his social media comments that supposedly sympathize with terrorism. The French authorities also opened up several other cases of people “condoning terrorism” or mocking murdered policemen, and similar instances of what some might describe as “hate speech”. And later last year, in the wake of the Paris attacks in November, France decided to extend a state of emergency and pass a bill whose provisions are very much characteristic of a country panicking about terrorism. Around the same time, the French government closed 3 mosques that were supposedly linked with radicalization, and suggested that about 100 more mosques would follow under the pretense of preventing radical ideology and hate speech. Oh, and the government has also raised plans to police online “hatred” – twice – which at this point you know is not going anywhere good..

It should also be noted that, again, despite Hollande’s claims that France is committed to freedom of speech, France is not completely liberal. So-called hate speech is illegal in the country, and specifically speech that characterizes a group as a mortal danger is illegal. Which of course, is stupid. You’re not coercing individuals, truth be known you aren’t violating any of their rights. Only the mythical right to not be offended or insulted. France also has laws prohibiting Holocaust denial, as well as libel laws and online surveillance curtailing freedom of speech online, and it actually endorses the concept of a “public speech offense” with regards to the arts. And as you surely know, when you legally divide speech into acceptable and unacceptable speech, you do not have freedom of speech. And no, there’s no such thing as “partial” freedom of speech either. Because of this, it’s clear that France is not the liberal example of democracy the media sometimes has you believe it is (at least during coverage of the attacks in France), but in fact an illiberal democracy, or rather an authoritarian state – after all, any country that decides what you can and can’t say is in fact authoritarian because it does not recognize freedom of speech.

So in my opinion, France is slowly but surely embracing full-on authoritarianism. The only peculiarity seems to be that it frequently seems to center around women, Muslims, and Jews, and a noticeable paranoia concerning terrorism.

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13 responses to “What France is becoming should not surprise you

  1. we’re very much in danger of the same kind of slide here, with all our issues of hate speech, social media offense, mandatory pornography internet filters, and feminist leftists talking up the same kind of “punish the clients” approach to prostitution. They have a puritan’s instinct with respect to sex work, but being good feminists they want to be seen to be punishing the evil men (as they assume sex workers are women and clients are men), which simply puts the sex workers at more risk as they have to find ways of keeping clandestine in order to protect their business

    • Don’t forget, the “punish the clients” strategy is actually a model embraced by Nordic countries. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced that France and Britain are the only European countries filling under the loathesome cloud of authoritarianism, both from the left and the right.

      • yes absolutely, and countries like Sweden are becoming quite infamous for their feminist laws, while the right is growing in various places in Europe, in part as a reaction to the cluelessness of the left. Authoritarianism is the problem. The let has given up on actual liberal, enlightenment values, in favour of its own “progressive” zeal, while the right has never been exactly committed to those things. One swings against the other, but both favour essentially authoritarian approaches

      • It kinda makes me wonder about the EU to be entirely honest. What are they doing? Even if they’re holding the UK to account, what are they doing with regards to Europe?

      • honestly I don’t know, and they are getting a lot of problems (ie the rest of Europe). If we left the EU I think it would be bad for the EU and that would affect us in turn inevitably, and I think it would be the authoritarian right that would benefit the most. The authoritarian left is a problem in Western Europe, but it may be living on borrowed time, though how much I don’t know. I don’t want authoritarian anything

      • It feels like damned if we do damned if we don’t. If we leave the EU, the authoritarian right and a government with authoritarian inclinations will have their way, and that will be terrible. But if we stay, it’ll feel like we’ll still just be part of the same mess as the rest of Europe, and the EU might hold us accountable for its abuses and idiotic laws, but not the rest of Europe – I don’t see them calling France’s paranoia into question. Either way, we’re stuck with a really nasty situation.

      • yes I know – the only thing I can say is that I wouldn’t underestimate the potential of disruption and disorder to be exploited by highly authoritarian elements. So stability, or relative stability is better to work with. From that point of view I am inclined to favour remaining in the EU and taking an independent position, but it is a pragmatic position, not an overly idealistic one

  2. It’s good to not live in France. Their government is afraid of those jews, women and muslims. I wonder if they are going to surrender??? They seem to do that a lot.

    • I’m not sure I like the thought of living in the UK and Europe for that matter. There’s something about them that doesn’t seem right.

      • From what I have read from UK blogs, UK newspaper comments (I always read the comments) etc is that things might actually be worse in the UK than they are here.

      • I know enough about it to make me dangerous.

        Integrating countries with different languages, governments, cultures, and histories etc can’t end well, in my opinion. It has to be authoritarian in order to keep it together, which means it’s doomed to fail sooner or later, just like the USSR. The tighter they squeeze, the more that slip thru their grasp.

        The politicians can talk all they want about EU freedom and democracy, but it’s propaganda, and propaganda is not targeted to the intelligent but to the masses.

        Hitler spelled it out in Mein Kampf. Our own government in the US follows the same precepts laid out by Hitler. Interesting how he told the German people all about the propaganda he was going to use on them, but he did.

        I think it will fail. All it will take is another financial crisis. Forget Russia, they aren’t a threat. But they make a convenient distraction for the EU masses.

  3. In all fairness it’s not only France that is in this position. Even here in the UK sex worker laws are full of ambiguity and hypocrisy. Which is ironic given how many politicians and people “high up” use our services. Pimping is obviously criminalized in this country meaning that escort agencies are not in any way regulated, meaning that a HUGE number of them engage in sex trafficking and very questionable activities.

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