French Fight Ban on Insulting Civil Servants

More civil servants filing suits when slighted
By Michael Foreman,  Newser User
Posted Jul 26, 2008 7:40 PM CDT
An armed French policeman in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, southwestern France, 2008. Insulting a French civil servant carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a hefty fine.   (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
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(Newser) – A Paris publisher has launched a high-profile crusade to legalize an increasingly popular crime: the insulting of public officials, the London Times reports. After being fined €150 for calling a cop a connard—or stupid bastard—Jean-Jacques Reboux got even angrier, and accused civil servants of abusing the law to make money. "It's like something from the ancien régime," Reboux said.

The law, which does date back to Napoleon, is clearly in use: More than 31,000 French were prosecuted with the crime last year, some facing fines as high as €7,500. But officials defend the practice as a means to protect the status of public servants. "If we got rid of this offence, it would be an open door for those who want to insult police officers," a police rep said.