Not that France ever had free speech as we understand it….

. . . but this is sad:

Brigitte Bardot was convicted Tuesday of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France.

A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against the former screen siren and animal rights campaigner. The court also ordered Bardot to pay $1,555 in damages to MRAP.

Bardot’s lawyer, Francois-Xavier Kelidjian, said he would talk to her about the possibility of an appeal.

A leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP filed a lawsuit last year over a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. The remarks were published in her foundation’s quarterly journal.

In the December 2006 letter to Sarkozy, now the president, Bardot said France is “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”

Bardot, 73, was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep.

French anti-racism laws prevent inciting hatred and discrimination on racial or religious or racial grounds. Bardot had been convicted four times previously for inciting racial hatred.

“She is tired of this type of proceedings,” he said. “She has the impression that people want to silence her. She will not be silenced in her defense of animal rights.”

Bardot’s extreme animal rights activism isn’t my cup of tea, and there’s no doubt that she’s allied herself with France’s less savory political right wing, but neither of those behind-the-scenes facts goes to the point that someone is being fined for expressing political speech that might hurt someone’s feelings.

On a slightly different, slightly the same topic, I was at a school meeting yesterday reviewing results from a parents’ poll.  The questions covered a variety of topics, and the parents had the opportunity to give narrative answers (in addition to the usual “strongly agree, agree, disagree” crap which creates black and white in a world of gray).

Anyway, the essays came back with some parents happy about things, some parents unhappy about things, and some parents obviously nut cases.  The happy parents expressed generalized happiness; the unhappy parents were very specific about their dislikes, and pretty consistent from one parent to another; and the whack jobs were unintelligible.

The core information in the responses, once you got rid of vague and loony stuff, was practical and helpful.  Nevertheless, the very strong feeling at the meeting was that the information should not go to the teachers because the negative (practical) information might hurt their feelings.  I was the lone dissenting voice.  Am I the only person left in the world who, although hating bad news, nevertheless feels that it can be useful?

I should add here that no teachers were mentioned by name.  There were no personal insults.  These were comments that went to the system as a whole, and can be remedied only by the system as a whole.  But the general consensus was that the teachers’ fragile egos just couldn’t take the hit.