Hibbing native Bob Dylan has lived a long, strange life, and it’s not getting any less strange.
Just a few weeks after receiving the French Legion of Honor, Dylan, 72, is the subject of preliminary charges filed against him in France for “public insult and inciting hate.” The charges were confirmed in a statement to the Associated Press by a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The basis for the charges is a statement made by Dylan in a September 2012 interview with Rolling Stone. Made—ironically—in the context of remarks criticizing American racism, Dylan said that “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.”
Croatians were not amused. In particular, the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions in France filed a legal complaint against the singer-songwriter.
What does this all have to do, specifically, with France? That remains a little unclear, beyond the fact that French-Croatians have taken offense at Dylan’s remarks and chafed at the singer receiving the country’s highest cultural award.
The French-Croatian organization doesn’t want money or punishment, a spokesman says: just an apology. “We have nothing against Rolling Stone magazine or Bob Dylan as a singer.”