Trust the French to turn efforts to “control” Internet communications into a cruel comedy.
PARIS — Dominique Broueilh is an unlikely cyberdelinquent, much less a political dissident. But earlier this year, Ms. Broueilh, 50, a homemaker and mother of three, found herself the target of a police investigation and a lawsuit from a French cabinet official because of a comment she had posted online.
Ms. Broueilh had come upon a video of the official, Nadine Morano, the secretary of state for the family, caught in a seeming untruth regarding her presence at a 2007 conference. “Oh, the liar,” Ms. Broueilh wrote, under a pseudonym, in comments below the clip.
The judicial police called in May on a weekday afternoon.
“I said to myself, ‘This must be a joke, it’s not possible,’ ” Ms. Broueilh recounted in a telephone interview from her home in St.-Paul-lès-Dax, south of Bordeaux. “It’s ridiculous, after all.”
The police said Ms. Morano, a combative politician and one of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s closest allies, had subpoenaed Ms. Broueilh’s Internet protocol address, obtained her identity and brought suit against her for “public insult toward a member of the ministry,” an offense punishable by a fine of up to $18,000.
– Scott Sayare, “As Web challenges French leaders, they push back” (New York Times, December 12, 2009)
Couldn’t make this stuff up.
First, this is fascism reborn. Second, a politician who can’t deal with edgy comments should be a docent in The Museum of Typewriters somewhere. So why isn’t she?
You really must read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
“The Internet is a danger for democracy,” said Jean-François Copé, parliamentary chief for the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, in a recent radio interview.
[ … ]
“I find we’re entering a strange society,” said Henri Guaino, one of Mr. Sarkozy’s closest counselors, speaking on French radio in September. “We can no longer say anything, we can no longer do anything. It’s absolute transparency — it’s the beginnings of totalitarianism!”
Beginnings of totalitarianism? I would say that the bright, sterilizing light of transparency is the end of totalitarianism. But read the rest yourself, and weep for France, a once great nation, and the progenitor of our French Canadian culture.
The main problem isn’t that these elite French twits think as they do, but that a majority votes for them. They could be returned to fashionable idleness in one single fair election.
As a Canuck free speech journalist, I say to the French generally: Get yer faces out of the buttered escargots and tell those upper crusts, You are not smart enough to tell me how to live.
Actually, I am at a loss to think of a better demonstrated proposition anywhere.
One friend has asked me whether this trend will affect the intelligent design controversy.
That is, might the idea that such elites are above criticism via the Internet spread to North America, leading to big time controls on communications?
Depends on the Escargot Index, right? The bureaucratic elite tried it recently in Canada, and they are now getting their butts whacked all across the country.*
Different culture here across the Pond? Maybe. Most Canadians are within four generations of immigrants. People didn’t choose Canada in order to have our lives run by upper class twits. In fact, we are mostly here because … (no prizes for guessing right).