Sunday, January 26, 2003

It is now illegal in France to insult the flag or boo the Marseillaise (6 months + €7,500). I haven’t said enough about France’s rapid movement in an authoritarian direction, of which this law is the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, much of what Secretary of War Rumsfeld calls Old Europe does seem to be moving backwards. Italy is on the verge of restoring immunity for members of parliament--immunity is a standard protection for democracy in other countries, but Italy is, well, Italy. Berlusconi, who keeps changing laws to legalize his many illegal activities, often retroactively, this week has changed a law to let him continue breaking the rules after he dies: he wants to be buried in a place too close to a population center, in violation of some perfectly sensible health codes from the 19th century.

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