I understand that Vincent Reynouard has been condemned and jailed under the Gayssot law, and that a petition is being circulated in protest against these actions. I know nothing about Mr. Reynouard, but regard the Gayssot law as entirely illegitimate, inconsistent with the basic principles of a free society as these have been understood since the Enlightenment. The law in effect grants the state the right to determine historical truth and to punish departure from its edicts, a principle reminiscent of the dark days of Stalinism and Nazism. If the justification of the Gayssot law is to ban « horrendous views« , or to protect the right to « live free from fear of an atmosphere » of prejudice and racism, then it should be obvious that, if such laws were applied impartially, they would criminalize a vast range of public discourse, which, however despicable one may find it, should certainly be permitted in a free society, and indeed is, with no question being raised.
Accordingly, I would like to register my support for the petition protesting the application of this law in this (or any) case.
Noam Chomsky, September, 5th 2010.