Article Title

Does It Matter How One Opposes Memory Bans? A Commentary on Liberte Pour L’Histoire

Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review


This Article examines Liberté pour l’Histoire, a group of French historians who led the charge against that nation’s memory laws and, in the process, raised unique arguments not found elsewhere in the debate over hate speech regulation. Some of these arguments—such as a focus on how the constitutional structure of the Fifth Republic encouraged memory laws—advance our understanding of the connection between hate speech bans and political institutions. Other arguments, however, are more problematic. In particular, Liberté historians struggle to distinguish the Holocaust (which is illegal to deny) from the Armenian Genocide (which is not). The Liberté historians are also hostile toward multiculturalism. While this reflects the French culture in which the historians operate, it is normatively unappealing. This is especially true given the existence of other, more inclusive European arguments against hate speech regulation, such as those of Danish cartoon publisher Flemming Rose and Maltese Judge Giovanni Bonello.