Treatment of French Rapper Shows France Has No Free Speech Culture

Whatever is true of French rapper Orelsan, his case illustrates how much France is not a free country.

People often refer to freedom of speech as one of the Western Values, but the recent controversy over a French Rapper shows that if “Western” includes Western Europe, that may not be an accurate description of free speech.

Recently, French rapper Orelsan won some awards.

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Rappers say disgusting things, so petitions to remove awards may be justifiable. But apparently Orelsan was singing from the point of view of a character that he wasn’t holding up as a model of behavior. More scandalous, Orselsan was actually put on trial in France for his lyrics!

The Local reports, “Calls for ‘French Eminem’ to be stripped of awards for ‘sexist’ lyrics.

Orelsan won three Victories of Music prizes Friday, confirming him as France’s rapper of the moment.

But a petition is demanding that French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen strip him of the awards because of his 2006 song, “Saint Valentine”, which saw him convicted of inciting violence against women.

Orelsan, 35, was acquitted on appeal of the charge in 2016 despite the hit containing the line “Shut your mouth or I will make a Marie Trintignant of you,” a reference to a French actress who was killed by her pop star boyfriend, Bertrand Cantat of Noir Desir, in 2003.

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About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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