Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mitterrand Overrules the Censors

The Ecole des Beaux Arts took down work by Ko Siu Lan that mocked Sarkozy's campaign slogan "travailler plus pour gagner plus." Culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand ordered the work to be rehung after the artist complained to the media. Officials at the Ecole had invoked the obligation of public institutions to remain netural in political matters as grounds for taking the work down. Mitterrand correctly sensed that this interpretation of the "neutrality" of the state would be a public relations disaster and reversed the decision of the school authorities.

Since "neutrality" is also invoked as a justification for banning religious symbolism, perhaps the "identity" debate, now officially declared a failure, should be revived as a debate over the various possible interpretations of "neutrality." (See my argument in response to Laurent Bouvet in the comments to this previous post.)

Unbuzzed

In view of reader comments and negative press about Google Buzz, I've removed my blog and Google Reader feeds from Buzz. You can still follow the blog of course via the usual readers, Feedblitz subscription, etc., and I am still sharing items via Google Reader, but you have to opt in in the traditional way rather than being force-fed my choices via your Buzz box. Of course if there is a ground swell of pro-Buzz sentiment, I can change my mind again.