Rich Man, Poor Man: No Insults Allowed

Someone in France has proposed making it illegal to criticize the poor, but Dalrymple asks: Hasn’t hatred of the rich actually proven to be far more historically catastrophic?

Few emotions are as easy to stir but as difficult to control as envy and hatred of the rich. What Freud called the narcissism of small differences means that increased equality does not necessarily assuage or lessen such hatred, for there is no end to the pettiness of humankind. How much envy and jealousy are provoked by trifling differences in status?

If it were right, then, to censor the expression of dangerous or unpleasant sentiments, it would be right above all to censor expressions of economic egalitarianism, a doctrine that proved so dangerously inflammatory only a few decades ago and that we have no reason to believe could not have the same terrible effects again. Under such a law, anyone who argued that the rich ipso facto exploited the poor would be subject to prosecution for a form of so-called hate speech that has abundantly demonstrated its potential for provoking violence.

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