France Could Send Its Citizens to Jail For Insulting The Poor

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

The French parliament is on course to pass legislation that would make it illegal to “insult the poor,” with a possible fine of €45,000 being imposed on those who break the rules.

France would be the latest to join a small number of countries such as Bolivia that outlaw discrimination on the basis of class and economic background. However, France’s legislation would go far beyond anything seen in around the world so far.

In addition for punishing insults against the less fortunate, those found guilty of discriminating on the grounds of economic background for the provision of housing, jobs or health care could face up to three years in prison.

The legislation is the brainchild of socialist senator Yannick Vaugrenard and came in the wake of a report by ATD Quart Monde drawing attention to discrimination against the poor.

It will be several months before the bill will make it to France’s lower house for a vote. Critics of the bill say the terms of the legislation are too broadly defined could lead to unintended consequences.

“It’s poverty that we have to fight, discrimination is just the disastrous consequence,” said conservative senator Olivier Cadic.

Writing in the Times on July 27, Adam Sage says one man who could’ve fallen foul of the law would’ve been none other than France’s own president Francois Hollande.

Hollande’s former partner Valérie Trierweiler wrote in a tell-all book published in 2014 that the socialist president “does not like the poor” and alleged that he called those in poverty “toothless” due to their inability to pay for dentistry.

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