Insulting the State
The offence — which carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a €7,500 fine — dates from Napoleonic times and is designed to protect “the dignity ... of a person charged with a public service mission”.
Behind the legalese is the belief that civil servants are the embodiment of a French State that deserves the respect and support of all its citizens. The number of prosecutions for insulting police officers and other civil servants has risen from 17,700 in 1996 to 31,731 last year in what critics say is an abuse of government power...
Post office employees, tax inspectors, railway staff and teachers are all starting to file lawsuits when they believe that they have been slighted.
Even Gérard Depardieu has fallen foul of the law. A description of three work inspectors as “jokers” when they raided the film set where the actor was performing left him with him a €3,500 fine.
A homeless man was given a one-month prison term for shouting out that Mr Sarkozy — Interior Minister at the time — was a “bloody Hungarian” in reference to his family origins. A 21-year-old was given a similar sentence for insulting the President's mother.
Thank goodness I'm not French, I'd be up in front of the beak every day...what was that you said about the European Arrest Warrant?