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Pot-smoking Dylan 'not worthy' of French honour

Published: 07 May 2013 16:51 GMT+02:00

According to a report in the French newspaper Le Canard Enchainé, the man whose job it is to decide who is granted the Légion d’honneur accolade, believes American folk music legend Bob Dylan is not worthy of being granted the title.

Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French army general and Great Chancellor of the Légion d’honneur, has rejected the nomination of Dylan, whose real name is Robert Zimmerman, claims the newspaper, which is renowned for having reliable sources among the higher echelons of French society.

The reason for the rejection? Dylan's weed smoking and opposition to the Vietnam war, the newspaper claims.

Advisers to Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti confirmed on Monday that it was she who had officially nominated Dylan to become a Knight of the Order.

She refused, however, to comment on the apparent rejection by Georgelin.

Speaking to The Local, a spokeswoman for the Grand Chancery of the legion would neither confirm nor deny that Dylan’s nomination would be rejected. Nor did she deny the reports in Le Canard Enchainé, saying only "usually these proposals are kept private." 

A 17-member panel, led by Georgelin, decides collectively whether or not to “receive” a nominee, on the basis of their “public services or professional activities, of a duration of at least 20 years,” according to the Legion’s rules.

The panel must also take into account the nominee’s “recent police record, and the results of an inquiry into the candidate’s honour and morality.” The spokeswoman confirmed  that a criminal record would exclude a nominee from joining the elite group.

Strictly speaking, non-French citizens cannot become members of the Legion d’honneur, but they can wear the same insignia, which is considered as great an honour as full membership.

Dylan would join his 1960s contemporary and fellow anti-war activist Sir Paul McCartney, who in 2012 was made an Officer of the Légion d’honneur by French President François Hollande.

In May 2012, Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama, the highest available civilian honour in the United States.

Dylan was a pacifist icon and leading voice in the campaign against American military intervention in Vietnam during the 1960s and 70s, and his protest song "Blowin' in the Wind" was a constant feature of anti-war gatherings during that era. 

A self-confessed drug user, Dylan is said to have personally introduced the Beatles - including Sir Paul McCartney himself - to cannabis during the mid-1960s, before progressing to the use of amphetamines and, according to Dylan himself, a "$25-a-day" heroin habit.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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