Being rude to French president no longer an offense

French President Francois Hollande unveils the new official Marianne post stamp at the Elysee Palace during the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, July 14, 2013. Francois Mori/Pool
French President Francois Hollande is trying to keep a stiffer upper lip. Credit: Reuters

Being rude to the French president is no longer an offense after parliament agreed Thursday to amend legislation dating back to 1881 in favor of freedom of speech.

Whereas before any rude remark risked an automatic fine for “offending the head of state,” the president is now reduced to the same category as ministers and parliamentarians and would need to have a judge prove there had been slander or defamation.

The change came after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in March that France violated a demonstrator’s right to freedom of expression when it fined him for holding a banner up to former President Nicolas Sarkozy reading: “Get lost, jerk.”

That slogan has been infamous in France since Sarkozy used the same words in 2008 to insult a man in a crowd who refused to shake his hand, and the court judged that left-wing activist Herve Eon was being satirical with his protest banner.

It said his conviction and 30 euro ($40) fine were out of proportion to his protest and that his right to freedom of expression had been violated.

Anyone found by a judge to have slandered the president still runs the risk of a fine of up to 45,000 euros.

President Francois Hollande has so far shown a thick skin, however, as critics have given him a string of unkind nicknames like “Flanby,” a brand of wobbly caramel pudding, and “Mr. Little Jokes.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.