The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

December 7, 2013

The times they are a-changin'

Quick quiz — When you think about racist hate speech what are the first five names you come up with?

Was one of them Bob Dylan? I’ll bet not, however, you would be wrong.

Earlier this week, Dylan was charged by the French Government with “hate speech.” French authorities have filed preliminary charges against Bob Dylan over a 2012 magazine interview in which he is quoted comparing Croatians to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The charges of “public insult and inciting hate” were filed against the musician in mid-November.

Excuse me? The real Bob Dylan or is this some Orwellian pun off the Onion’s website. Sadly, it is true.

Holy 1984, Batman, could it be true that a man whose music served as the soundtrack for the Civil Rights movement and whose guitar was inscribed with the slogan “This machine kills fascism” could actually be a “hater.”

Probably not, but it does represent an alarming European trend that scares me to death.

It is punitive political correctness, a case of the PC police being armed and dangerous and ready to kick down your door with “non-hateful” jackboots. One doesn’t have to BE a racist, they just have to TALK about it.

Dylan, one of the biggest proponents of free speech in the 1960s, is now learning that even when one is trying to have an adult conversation about race relations, every word one speaks will be examined, analyzed and eventually handed over to Big Brother to be used as political ammunition by which ever side is shooting.

I think there are several factors at play here and “hate speak” is not one of them.

Dylan was giving an opinion that was backed with generalities — he never once specified “all Croatians” or “all Serbians.” Secondly, both the offended Croatians and the French prosecutors seem to have a case of selective memory. During World War II, there WAS a group of Nazi-backed Croatians who did engage in genocide against the Serbs, however during the more recent struggles in the Balkans, there was enough ethnic cleansing going on to elect Mr. Clean as prime minister of Yugoslavia. There were war criminals from Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia and blame to share across the globe.

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