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Bob Dylan Avoids Hate Speech Charges

Prosecutors in France have dropped charges brought against Bob Dylan by a Croatian community association, for violating anti-discrimination laws in comments he made in a 2012 Rolling Stone cover story.

Instead, the magistrate ruled in favour of indicting Rolling Stone‘s French edition for printing the allegedly racist remarks in the first place. In December last year, the Council of the Croat Community and Institutions of France (CRICCF) brought charges against Dylan for comparing Croatians to white supremacists and the Nazis.

In a discussion about race relations in the US, the 72-year-old singer remarked, “If you got a slave master or [Ku Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day,” he added. “Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”

The interview was conducted with the US edition of the magazine and was republished in the French version. Under France’s stringent laws “hate speech” allegations are considered a crime and almost always go to trial.

After the statement was published the community organisation filed preliminary charges against the musician for “incitement to hatred”. Those charges were this week dismissed by magistrate Marion Potier.

Dylan’s French lawyer Thierry Marembert said the magistrate ruled the performer could not be held accountable for remarks published in France as he had not given the go-ahead for his US interview to be re-published in Rolling Stone’s French edition.

While the charges against Dylan have been dropped, the same charges have been brought against Rolling Stone France publisher Michael Birnbaum, who, reports Billboard, faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of €45,000 (AU $66,000) for publishing the remarks.

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