The Curmudgeon


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Say It With Cardboard

The European court of human rights has quashed the conviction of a Frenchman who held up a cardboard sign at Nicolas Sarkozy's presidential motorcade. The sign read "Casse-toi pov'con", which Britain's leading liberal newspaper translates as "Get lost, you prat". It was a quote from Sarkozy himself: he had used the line, though he did not immortalise it on cardboard, when somebody refused to shake his hand at an agricultural fair. The president was censured in the media for conduct unbecoming to the dignity of his office; the sign-wielder was arrested by the police, prosecuted and convicted on a charge of offence against a head of state, given a criminal record and made to pay the thirty euros which apparently was the going price of Nicolas Sarkozy's dignity in 2008. A court of appeal confirmed the verdict; but the European court of human rights found that, while the phrase may have offended Sarkozy's oh-so-delicate sensibilities, it constituted legitimate political criticism rather than gratuitous personal attack. The court declared the criminal conviction "disproportionate" and warned, in a superb eructation of eurocratese, of the "dissuasive effect on satirical interventions" which could result from such humourless prosecutions. It is as yet unclear what effect this judgement will have on the attitude towards the ECHR of our own malignant, mendacious, high-handed, hare-brained, overambitious frump of a Home Secretary.


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