The Washington Times-Herald


December 7, 2013

The times they are a-changin'


Thirdly and most importantly, Bob Dylan is not an AUTHORITY on race, history, world affairs, law or journalism (and if you heard his 1979 Slow Train Coming album, one might even include songwriting). He is an entertainer and that’s OK.

Although Dylan will always be remembered for his political and social activism throughout the 60s, he has not been relevant as activist for more than four decades. In other words, his opinion doesn’t matter. Ask him a question and he will mumble you an answer, after that, people can do what they want with whatever it was he said — after all, it is just his opinion.

The problem comes when governments try to tell us what thought and speech is correct and what speech should be prohibited because it is “offensive.” Dear Lord, I try to offend someone every four to six hours, just to stay in practice.

In France, 88 people have been convicted under the law Dylan has been charged with. People have served up to two months for “offensive” language. One conviction included actress Brigitte Bardot, also an animal rights activist, who publicly stated her opposition to the slaughter of sheep in a Muslim religious ritual. Talk about an ACLU nightmare.

I hope that Dylan goes back to France and challenges this law in a public courtroom. The absurdity of this case needs to be championed by someone like Bob Dylan. Dylan sang at the Freedom March in 1963 and one would have an difficult time painting him as any type of racist either through his words or action.

He is now a 72-year-old man with a golden opportunity available to him — a chance to be relevant again with his words.

Todd Lancaster is an award-winning columnist hoping to find an oversized “Free Bob Dylan” t-shirt to wear to the trial. If this column offended anyone, a link to the French prosecutor is available online.

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