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France drops hate speech charges against Bob Dylan

on April 17, 2014, 2:25pm

There’s now legal precedent that Bob Dylan is not a racist. Well, not intentionally, at least.

Last year, French authorities charged the folk legend with a hate crime after the Council of Croats filed a complaint about remarks he made to Rolling Stone. Commenting on the state of race relations in the U.S., Dylan suggested that African Americans can “sense” if a person has “slave master or Klan” in their blood. “That stuff lingers to this day,” he continued. “Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.” 

After five months of inquiry into the accusations, French magistrate Marion Potier found that Dylan never gave permission for those comments to be published in the French edition of Rolling Stone. To clarify, Potier did not determine whether or not Dylan’s comments violated France’s strict anti-discrimination laws, just that the singer didn’t intend to make the parallel in France. Either way, prosecutors have dropped the case against him without prejudice (via The Wall Street Journal).

Still, the story isn’t exactly over yet; Rolling Stones French publisher, Michel Birnbaum, will stand trial for violating those same anti-hate speech laws. If found guilty, Birnbaum could face up to a year in prison and a fine equivalent to $62,000.

While Birnbaum’s fate is to be determined, Dylan’s attorney Thierry Marembert told the Journal, “I am very happy to see that French justice understood that Bob Dylan never wanted to insult anyone.”

Below, celebrate Dylan’s “victory” with “Tangled Up in Blue”:

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