Friday, July 18, 2014

Dignité, égalité, et absurdité

Two recent stories out of France have reminded me just how grand it is to live in the land of the free, at least when it comes to heaping vitriol upon others with impunity.  These two stories ought to shock most of my compatriots, since the supremacy of the First Amendment is so ingrained in our legal tradition that even most leftists understand why the ACLU defended the right of KKK members to express themselves in public.  As Voltaire never said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

The first news item stems from an image posted on the Facebook page of an ex-extreme-right candidate named Anne-Sophie Leclère, which seems to imply that the Justice Minister, Christian Taubira, was very cute indeed when she was 18 months old:

Well, this poorly constructed photo-montage incited quite a fuss, especially because of what happened next: Leclère was sued, sentenced 9 months in prison, and fined €50,000 ($67,529).  Her political party (the Front National, or FN) was also fined €30,000, even though it disapproved of the image at the time, and even excluded her from the party.  (In recent years the FN has been trying to revamp the hard fascist/racist image left behind by James Bond villain and party-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has clamped down on any overt racism.)  Leclère will appeal the decision. 

Emilio Largo from Thunderball, left, and Jean-Marie Le Pen, right.
  This reminds me of the Sarkozy Voodoo Doll incident, in which the President of France took legal action against the company producing the dolls.  In the end the dolls were re-released on the market, but were required to wear a warning on the box, which I will translate for your enjoyment:

It has been judged that inciting the reader to poke the doll herein with the provided needles, an action that carries the underlying idea of physical harm, however symbolic, constitutes an insult to the dignity of Mr. Sarkozy.
You can't make that shit up.

 In contrast, the US has a long and fine tradition of likening our political elites to other primates, and entire industries have been spawned to allow us to crush George W. Bush's head on a stress ball, beat the crap out of his likeness on a punching bag, and wipe his face on our asses with novelty toilet paper.

The next story is really incredible though.  A blogger named Caroline Doudet panned a restaurant, citing poor service.  The restaurant owner sued the blogger.  The judge fined the blogger $3,400, in part, she explained, because the blog was ranked highly by Google, and was thus damaging to the restaurant.  The End.

While this story is getting quite a bit of play in the English language press, all I could find in French were a few grouchy blog posts.  If the French think that such a judgement is business-as-usual, or isn't newsworthy, the state of affairs in France is worse than I imagined.

I know that there have been abusive lawsuits against sites like Yelp, but picking out a single blogger because she said that the service was horrible?  Amazing.  More details from wapo.

1 comment:

Julia said...

What I got from this:
The French also inexplicably use "months" as an age following 1 year. I know it has to do with developmental differences that can be counted in months, but still.

But serieuxly, US politicians may not get thrown in jail for sending out watermelon/Obama emails, but they get punished in other ways. And they wail about "free speech" the whole time. Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from the consequences when your speech is très fucked up.