Tragedy, Farce or Legal Mobilization? The Danish Cartoons in Court in France and Canada

45 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010  

Robert A. Kahn

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Why would anyone prosecute the Danish Cartoons? Even as North Americans and Europeans debated whether the cartoons should have been commissioned by the Jyllands Posten or republished elsewhere, most agreed that prosecutions were totally out of line in a liberal Western state. And, yet, there were prosecutions in both France and Canada. While each prosecution ultimately failed from a legal perspective, both cases also operated on the level of symbolic politics. Here the results were mixed. While the Muslim groups that sued Charlie Hebdo won a partial victory when a French court conceded that the turban cartoon was, standing alone, offensive to Muslims, the Canadian Human Rights prosecution against Ezra Levant ended with the entire system of human rights proceedings on trial. This paper tells the story of these two cases.

Keywords: freedom of expression, offensive speech, Danish Cartoons

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Robert A., Tragedy, Farce or Legal Mobilization? The Danish Cartoons in Court in France and Canada (2010). U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666980 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1666980

Robert A. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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