Bob Dylan has found himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit this week. A group of Croatians has filed suit against the aging rocker for comments he had comparing the European country to America during slavery. The comments were made by Bob Dylan in response to a question about America in the French edition of Rolling Stone.
Bob Dylan was in France where he was awarded the French Legion of Honor. He gave the interview to French Rolling Stone in order to promote his winning of the award. The interviewer started asking him about America and they were discussing the American experience with slavery when he said:
“Mmm, I don’t know how to put it. It’s like… the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing. What, like, 500,000 people? A lot of destruction to end slavery. And that’s what it really was all about.
This country is just too f–ked-up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back — or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. 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.”
The last part of the comment irked a Croatian group who filed suit against Bob Dylan for what they termed “racism“. In Europe the laws protecting free speech are a lot stricter than in America and many people have found themselves on the losing side of the law for comments that would be protected under the United States Constitution. The Croatian court has already ruled that the suit can proceed and if it is not settled in the next 18 months or so Bob Dylan can be fined and face a formal sanction.
Do you think that Bob Dylan’s comments should be protected as free speech or does the singer have a responsibility to watch what he says when asked about controversial topics?