Friday, February 26, 2010

Only in France

Guy Eyerman, syndicaliste CGT, was only recently one of the strikers at New-Fabris, where angry workers had rigged up gas bottles and threatened to blow up the plant if their demands were not met. Now he's on Ségolène Royal's ticket in Poitou-Charentes, which also features candidates from MoDem. So Ségo has made good on her promise to create a rainbow coalition spanning the spectrum "from Besancenot to Bayrou," as she put it at Harvard more than a year ago. Eyerman, interviewed on France2 tonight, seemed a little surprised to find himself in position éligible alongside centrists, but he's a pragmatist for the moment, and so is SR.

Diversity as a Philosophical Concept

Alain Renaut's book is reviewed here.

Quick Affair Ends Quickly

The mayor of Roubaix has withdrawn his complaint against Quick. Apparently, the chain has decided to "consider" offering non-halal burgers alongside its bacon-free fare. Will this count as halal? Who knows? The moving hand has writ, and moves on.

Casse-toi, Monsieur le Président

Farmers have taken it amiss that Sarko will come only to the closing ceremony of the Salon de l'Agriculture rather than to the opening, as is customary. Maybe the president is afraid of another incident such as the notorious confrontation with a detractor a couple of years ago. But agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire is the man who knows this dossier. Good comment here:

Some officials believe that, just as the global financial crisis convinced Europeans to join the French drive against unbridled capitalism, the agricultural crisis will favour France's call for more regulation.
Bruno Le Maire, the French agriculture minister, this week sketched out what that might look like, in proposals to the Commission that try to address the price volatility that has crippled farmers. They include measures for more rapid intervention across sectors when prices collapse; public-private insurance; stronger producer groups to balance retailers' pricing power; tougher rules to curb commodities speculation; and finally an information gathering body to sound the alarm when supply and demand fall out of sync.
The proposals have quite sensibly shifted the early debate on CAP away from the controversial issue of funding to the question of what its priorities should be.
Yet if the partners agree to regulation à la française , they will have agreed implicitly to a big budget, as the measures would demand significant funding to be effective.

MRAP Looks at the Internet

Rue89 calls attention to a study of racism on the Internet published by the MRAP (Mouvement Contre le Racisme et Pour l'Amitié des Peuples). Now, the point of the Rue89 piece is to defend Causeur.fr, a site that Hugues Serraf says "can be annoying, not to say exasperating" but that can hardly be characterized as racist or even, as the MRAP calls it, "neo-conservative" (whatever that means in the French context). I agree. I was astonished to find Causeur, which I read fairly regularly for its droll*, sometimes acid, commentaries, listed alongside such sites as francoisdesouche. Indeed, the MRAP report lists "sites that link to Causeur," a group in which I might have found myself, since I have linked to it more than once (and even once linked to francoisdesouche).

The MRAP report offers an interesting map of a segment of French opinion that I, for one, don't know very well, but it should be used with caution, and I will continue to read Causeur despite the warning, just as I will continue to read Alain Finkielkraut and Pierre-André Taguieff, who also come in for criticism in the MRAP document. If one tuned out all opinion that was "annoying and sometimes exasperating," it would be difficult to call oneself well-informed.

* For an example of a droll commentary on a controversial theme, see this piece by Jérôme Leroy on the Roubaix Quick affair. As readers will know, I disagree with Leroy on the substance, but his opposition to what he calls "multiculturalism" is by no means out of bounds, and one learns about the dining habits of teachers in a provincial collège in the 1990s.

"Psychological Violence"

France's National Assembly approved Thursday night a proposal to add “psychological violence” to a law intended to help victims of physical violence and abuse, despite doubts that the law is specific enough to have much impact.

The proposed law says that to "act or repeatedly say things that could damage the victim's life conditions, affect his/her rights and his/her dignity or damage his/her physical or mental health'' is punishable by a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to 75,000 euros, or about $103,000. Carefully covering both genders, the law applies to behavior toward a wife, husband, partner or concubine.(from the NY Times)

Another Strange French Libel Case

After yesterday's story of an editor being charged with criminal libel in France for publishing a negative book review, today brings the news that Patrick Devedjian is filing libel charges against Vincent Peillon for reading on the air a news item from 1965 reporting Devedjian's conviction following a fracas with police (h/t KirkMc). I guess I don't understand French libel law at all: if the conviction is true, how can mentioning it constitute libel? In any case, I've written to Maître Eolas to ask him to explain the law. I hope he does.

UPDATE: See here for a good explanation of the law.