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France drops hate speech charges against singer Bob Dylan

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On April 14, prosecutors in France dropped the preliminary hate charges that they filed against 72-year-old singing icon Bob Dylan last November. Specifically, the French charged Dylan with "public insult and inciting hate,” for comments he made in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview wherein he seemed to compare Croatians to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis.

But that’s not the end of the story. The Wall Street Journal reported that instead of going after the “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” troubadour, prosecutors now want the publisher of Rolling Stone's French edition to face trial for printing Dylan’s comments.

French magistrate Marion Potier said she went along with dismissing the charges against Dylan because he gave that Rolling Stone interview to the U.S. version of the publication and never gave his express permission to have that interview published in the magazine’s French edition. Dylan’s French attorney, Thierry Marembert, said that he was pleased that the French court realized that his famous client “never wanted to insult anyone."

And although Dylan came out of the deal feeling “Well Well Well,” the French prosecutors charged the publisher of the Rolling Stone's French edition with violating anti-discrimination laws. Now it’s Michel Birnbaum who’s looking at a possible maximum fine of $62,000 and one year in prison.

Yahoo! News reported that Dylan faced those same penalties had he been found guilty of the hate speech charges brought against him. The French charges against Dylan originated from a complaint lodged by the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF,) following publication of the singer’s comments.

The Croats are especially sensitive to being connected in any way with Nazis these days due to their alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II. Dylan’s comments in that Rolling Stone interview appear below:

"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."

Ironically, Dylan first heard about the hate charges filed against him by the French while he was touring in Paris last November, and at the same time he was being awarded the French Legion d'Honneur for being "a hero for young people hungry for justice and independence," according to the culture minister in France. For more on the original charges brought against Dylan, see the video accompanying this article.

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