Best columns: Europe
Spreading xenophobia through lies
The Hungarian government has launched a propaganda campaign against Jewish-American billionaire George Soros to boost its own nationalist agenda, said Matyas Gyozo. Eight million Hungarians have received surveys in the mail seeking their opinion on what the government calls the “Soros Plan” to resettle refugees in Hungary. The Hungarian- born financier and philanthropist has, it’s true, written the occasional op-ed arguing that the European Union should integrate some of the masses of desperate migrants who have been streaming to its shores over the past few years. But this “propaganda text disguised as a questionnaire suggests an apocalyptic vision of Soros planning the downfall of European culture.” The “malicious and untrue” questions inquire, for example, whether a voter supports Soros’ proposition to dismantle all border fences, or to give immigrants milder sentences for crimes—neither of which he ever proposed. Billboards across the country show Soros’ smiling face with the slogan “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.” The sad thing is, this country does need to have a conversation about refugees, including a realistic discussion of the potential danger to society from taking them in and the danger to Hungary’s international standing of keeping them out. But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn’t want to discuss—“only to demonize.”
A legal loophole for pedophiles
Can an 11-year-old girl consent to sexual intercourse? asked Olivia Elkaim. Most French people would surely say no. Yet last month, prosecutors in Pontoise said that a 28-year-old man who lured his 11-year-old neighbor to his apartment and had sex with her could not be charged with raping a minor, because the sex was supposedly “consensual.” Prosecutors charged him instead with assaulting a minor, meaning he could get five years in prison instead of 20. The investigators said there was no proof that the man used “violence, coercion, threat, or surprise,” and so, under French law, that makes the sixth-grader a willing participant. Police even cited text messages of a sexually suggestive nature that the girl had once sent to a friend as evidence that she willingly submitted. The case “has provoked outrage” across France. Psychiatrists say current French law is simply “not adapted to the psychological situation of children.” Children may indeed exhibit sexual curiosity, but they aren’t emotionally equipped to stand up to adults. Activists are now calling for a statutory rape law, which most other Western countries have, to set an age below which consent to sexual relations is not legally possible. It should not be the child’s responsibility to explicitly say no.