Bob Dylan Off the Hook in French Anti-Discrimination Case

David Gahr

Bob Dylan

French prosecutors have dropped the charges leveled at Bob Dylan last year after the singer made comments about Croatians that were alleged to violate the country's anti-discrimination laws, the Wall Street Journal reports. Instead, law officials are looking to looking to indict Rolling Stone's French edition for printing the remarks in the first place. 

In December, Dylan was quoted as telling Rolling Stone in an interview: "Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery -- that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke . . ., and they can't pretend they don't know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood."

After the statement was published, a Croatian organization in France deemed it an example of speech used to incite hatred and strife between racial and ethnic groups and filed preliminary charges, which magistrate Marion Potier dismissed on Monday, April 14. She explained her decision on the basis that Dylan conducted the interview with Rolling Stone's U.S. publication without giving the go-ahead that it be published in France, where "hate speech" allegations (which are considered a crime in the country) almost always go to trial. 

Now that the five-month investigation into Dylan's case has been closed, the same charges he faced have been brought against Rolling Stone France publisher Michael Birnbaum, who faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of €45,000 ($62,000) for publishing the remarks. Neither his lawyer nor representatives from the U.S. edition of Rolling Stone gave comments to the Wall Street Journal.