Like others (notably Glenn Greenwald), I’ve pointed out the uneven ways “free expression” gets defined these days– apparently it’s fine to express some views, as harshly as you please, others not so much. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, France has become a kind of test track for this kind of free-speech hypocrisy– marching in favor one day, the next arresting those who express themselves a little too freely.
Now its president has taken things a step farther:
“Asked by journalists about the burning of French flags in several countries, in particular in Africa, François Hollande answered: ‘we’re not finished with such behavior, and it must be punished, because when that happens in France it’s intolerable, but also in foreign countries. I think especially of those countries which sometimes cannot understand what freedom of expression is, because they’ve been denied it.'”
Really, this is the level of discussion? Burning the French national symbol is a shocking violation, which somehow shows that various Africans and Asians “cannot understand what freedom of expression is,” but mocking other people’s religion shows a vigorous democracy in action?