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Bob Dylan sued for “racial slur”

By | Published on Monday 2 December 2013

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan and Rolling Stone magazine are facing legal action in France, according to, for an interview the latter published with the former back in September.

In the article Dylan was asked about Civil War-era America and whether it, and the slave trade it was concerned with, still had an impact on his country today. Responding, the singer songwriter opined that ethnic groups who suffered oppression in the past will still, deep down, feel some resentment towards or suspicion of the descendants of their oppressors.

Comparing continued racial tensions in America with more recently oppressed ethnic groups, Dylan mused: “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”.

It’s the last part of that statement – alluding to the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s, and the tensions between Serbs and Croats – that has caused offence, albeit in France, where a Croat community group has taken action accusing Dylan and Rolling Stone of making a racial slur. According to the International Business Times, Vlatko Mari, secretary general of the French Council Of Croats, said of the remark: “It is an incitement to hatred. You cannot compare Croatian criminals to all Croats”.

Dylan presumably wasn’t actually trying to compare all Croats with the few guilty of war crimes though, while the specifics of the French law behind the legal action aren’t clear, the Council’s lawsuit has reportedly been accepted by the courts. That said, it is still to be “evaluated on its merits”. Assuming it’s not rejected early on, it could take over eighteen months to go through the motions, according to Business Insider.