Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Writer in trouble …

 Informal Inquiries: Voltaire goes to prison (and others should be next).

Voltaire was imprisoned because, in some satirical verse, he accused the French Regent of incest with with his own daughter, which sounds as if he could have been charged with libel, which is a crime. The best commentary on Voltaire in my view is Joseph de Maistre's: "Voltaire, who touched upon every subject, without ever penetrating the surface of any …"


  1. Frank, if a pundit were to make a similar statement or suggestion about an American president, do you think any penalty would or should be imposed? I think we now live in different but more dangerous, contradictory, and confusing times when it comes to words and thoughts; violations of law are ignored, and innocent, truthful words and thoughts are vilified, muzzled, and penalized.

  2. A lot of truth in that, Tim.
    Re Voltaire: I like Herder's description of him as 'a senile child'.

  3. Nige, I'm envious of Voltaire because I strive in my dotage to be "a senile child." Onward I unstoppably go in my 70s, skipping and laughing, into the good night!

  4. Hi Tim,
    I'm not a lawyer, but the First Amendment obviously does not protect against libel, though public figures have a hard time bringing a case. My natural inclination is in favor of letting people say what they want. We do live in coarse times, to be sure.