Should racists be fined for their remarks?

It’s something that I used to be more opposed to but increasingly I’m less against it. The added stigma of being found guilty of saying something racist should carry some extra weight. The amount is irrelevant, but the fact that the courts have found the comments out of order says a lot. Of course, George Allen’s “macaca” moment was the end of his political career and no fine or ruling was needed.

In this case, a French minister has been fined for making an obvious racist remark. BBC:

Mr Hortefeux was joking with a small group of activists from the ruling UMP party in south-west France.

Immediately before Mr Hortefeux’s controversial remark, one activist is heard saying: “Amin is a Catholic. He eats pork and drinks alcohol.”

Mr Hortefeux then says: “Ah, well that won’t do at all. He doesn’t match the prototype.”

A woman is then heard to say: “He is one of us… he is our little Arab.”

The interior minister then says: “We always need one. It’s when there are lots of them that there are problems.”

The court ruled that his remark was “incontestably offensive, if not contemptuous”.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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