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Bardot convicted, again

Bardot has been convicted, again, of inciting racial hatred. She received a two-month suspended prison sentence a fine of 15,000 euros.

The case arose from certain comments Bardot made about ritual slaughter in a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy that was later published by her foundation.

Ritual slaughter, as practiced by Jews and Muslims, is pretty disgusting. I have to say that I don’t find it as shocking as the scale of animal slaughter that takes place in factory farms. I’m not convinced, also, that hanging a live animal upside down and slitting its throat while it is conscious is that much worse than (for example) electrocuting a pig’s head until its brains boil: which I believe is the standard way of killing these rather intelligent animals. I also suspect that a good proportion of chickens, which are supposed to be stunned before slaughter, are in fact conscious as they trundle round the conveyor belt to their doom.

Sid – who thinks that prosecuting Bardot is counter productive – is also unimpressed by the DIY slaughtering of sheep  for Eid al-Adha:

Now there are many Muslims who abhor the whole slaughterhouse experience of Eid-al-Adha. The gross commercialisation and the one-upmanship of “my sheep is bigger than yours” gives national proprortions to infantile machismo. I find it grotesque being in Bangladesh during the festival, when the entire city of Dhaka begins to reek like an abattoir.

There’s nothing wrong with protesting against ritual slaughter. Neither, to be frank, is there anything wrong in suggesting that it is only permitted out of deference to Jews and Muslims. Let’s face it: it is chiefly the politics of cultural sensitivity which exempts Jews and Muslims from the general law in this matter. Most western countries waive their health and safety legislation to accomodate Halal and Kashrut practices because, as a society, we have decided that it is more important that some religious people should eat meat, than that animals should be spared particular methods of slaughter.

As I think humans matter more than animals, I have no problem with that decision. In fact, I’d be prepared to defend ritual slaughter (and, to be frank, huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ as well) on that basis.

I can’t find the full text of what Bardot said, but most newspapers have reported the following sentence:

“[France is] tired of being led by the nose by this population [i.e. Muslims] that is destroying our country by imposing its acts”

That is a hyperbolic statement; or it seems so to me, because I don’t think that a country is no more “destroyed” by allowing ritual slaughter than by banning “traditional country sports”. Advocates of bloodsports and animal rights activists will disagree. However, it is true to say that ritual slaughter is tolerated in most countries because of concern for the interests of two religious minority groups.

Perhaps there is more in the Bardot letter than has been reported. However, if this is all she has been fined for, she has been treated unfairly. 

I say that, despite the fact that:

(a) Organised fascist groups have long used opposition to ritual slaughter in order to build support for their politics; and

(b) Bardot is married to Bernard d’Ormal, who has been active in the fascist Front National party;

(c) Bardot has a track record of making inflammatory and bigoted statements about Muslims and other minority groups.

However, Bardot’s views on ritual slaughter should the subject of robust debate, and should not be dealt with by means of a criminal conviction. I think I can win this argument, without the State criminalising a 73 year old woman who lives in a room full of cats.

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