Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Slander Case

Yesterday I commented on what I regard as a frivolous slander suit against a man who referred to three journalists as "militant groupies" for Ségolène Royal. Today we have the story of a man who faces a fine of 750 euros for the crime of outrage à personne dépositaire de l'autorité publique," insulting a public official, in this case Nicolas Sarkozy, whom the defendant compared to Pétain. I regard this prosecution as an outrage and an affront to anyone who believes in free speech.

As Rue89 points out, it was Nicolas Sarkozy who said at the time of the Danish cartoon affair: "I prefer excess of caricature to absence of caricature."

The law of outrage is an archaic relic, a translation of the crime of lèse-majesté. But Sarkozy is not un roi thaumaturge, and as he forcefully pointed out to Laurent Joffrin, he is not a monarch at all. He has not two bodies but one, and since it must be shared with Carla Bruni, it cannot qualify as sacred, hence does not deserve the special protection of the law.

The Attali Report

It would be easy to poke fun at the report of the Attali Commission on Growth. For instance, "Find ways to ensure that by the end of the sixth grade every pupil will have mastered reading, writing, arithmetic, working in groups, and computer literacy" (my italics). Indeed. And why not pick up the Holy Grail and the Golden Fleece while you're at it. Ditto for the ten "major centers of higher education and research" and the ten "Ecopolises." Why only ten? Why not go for all 50 top places in the Shanghai rankings? But there are a few good ideas in there, I'm sure. Removing the precautionary principle from the constitution, for one, and eliminating the départements, for another--but of course Sarkozy has already shot those two down.

Nevertheless, Attali has his idolators. If you can stand to watch one of the ambulatory editorials of the insufferable Christophe Barbier, the editor of L'Express, you'll hear a choice paean to Son Eminence Grise, ou Grisaille. Others are less enthusiastic.

Where's the Beef?

Fadela Amara's blog this morning has a post entitled "Présentation du Plan Espoir Banlieues." But there is no presentation. If you click on the picture of Fadela Amara, you get a larger picture of Fadela Amara.

I guess this is what the French call la comm, and nous autres Amerloques call a "con."

Book Sales

For what it's worth, books by and about Ségolène Royal are selling well. And who would have thought that Lionel Jospin would sell more copies than Bernard-Henri Lévy (28,400 to 26,800)? But true publishing success lies in the center of the political spectrum: Simone Veil sold 302,000 copies of her autobiography. Curiously, we're not told how many copies of Yasmina Reza's book about Sarkozy were sold after one of the most memorable campaigns of hype in recent French publishing annals (matched only by BHL's, and we see what all the hype did for him--I think the French may be developing an immune reaction from BHL overexposure).