Last month, a tiny French publishing house, Monstrograph, published 80 page essay, Moi les hommes, je le deteste, by activist Pauline Harmange. The author defines the book as a “manifesto for misandry” and continues:
Feminists often treat misandry as a joke. I found it interesting to explain that we have good reason to reach that point… allegations of misandry are a… way of silencing the sometimes violent and always legitimate anger of the opressed towards their oppressors.”
Monstrograph subsequently received an email from Ralph Zurmely, a policy officer at the Ministry for Equality between Women and Men, saying:
This book is by all accounts… an ode to misandry (hatred of men). I would remind you that inciting hatred over gender is a criminal offence. I request you immediately withdraw this book from your catalogue under threat of criminal prosecution.”
The ministry, headed by Elisabeth Moreno, has distanced itself from the warning, insisting that Zurmely sent the email at his own initiative and not in the ministers name. Zurmely continues to argue that the text is not lawful and that:
If the publishers insist in selling this book, they directly become accomplices in the offence and I will find myself obliged to send the case to the prosecutors for criminal proceedings.”
The publishers claim that:
This book is not at all an incitement to hatred. The title is provocative but the argument is measured.”
Naturally, the controversy has boosted sales, prompting their quip:
This story shows that you cannot reduce anger to silence.”
I have no doubt that this book is a bitter and delusional screed – and I am also aware that justice should be blind and the author and publishers of I hate women, were that to be published in France, would likely be straight up for prosecution. However, the utility in legislating against hateful speech is not clear to me. Making bad ideas taboo does precious little to dispel them, making bad ideas illegal risks making potential martyrs out of people who (with a good blast of disinfectant-sunlight) would be mockeries. Anti-feminist ideas are gaining traction (as shown by YouGov and BuzzFeed and claimed recently by Laura Bates) – and I suspect that we can thank feminists more than anyone for this development.
Original story at The Times.
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