Sunday, 19 October 2008

"Example is the School of Mankind..."

There are times I hear the news and realise the slip of water between Britain and France is less a channel than a cultural chasm. This week there were two events: both involved French president Nicholas Sarkozy who is turning into Sam Sam on a mission to save the world, and both seem to have been pulled out of a political drawer marked: Making It Up As You Go Along.

The first was the president's decision to revoke the extradition order against an Italian woman, a one-time leading member of the Red Brigades convicted of kidnapping and murder in Italy. Whatever the pros and cons of the woman's case - and these things are always more complicated than reported - the most astonishing thing was that Mr Sarkozy apparently made this unexplained decision after some heavy-duty lobbying by his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and her sister. Can you just imagine the headlines in the UK if Sarah Brown and family were to use such influence on her husband? Good Gordon, it would be apoplexy all round.

The second was a presidential edict that the next time football fans at a match boo or whistle during La Marseillaise, the game will be cancelled and the stadium emptied. This followed the dissing of the national anthem at the start of a France v Tunisia friendly in Paris; perhaps as some suggested, because French-born fans of North African descent object to its call to shed "impure blood"; perhaps, as other opined, because they do not feel French. It seems to me this dictat will have two sure results: 1) It will become an act of provocation - nay honour - for some fans to whistle during the Marseillaise; 2) Tens of thousands of hyped-up football supporters subsequently denied a match will invade the streets of Paris. In Britain such a ruling would be considered -rightly or wrongly - an infringement of freedom of expression.

Having been elected a "deputy" school governor (the results of the vote have not been announced but there was only one list of candidates) I promise not to let the (non-existent) power go to my head (too much). I solemnly swear to try to engage brain before opening mouth (as often as possible); I will not let the Frenchman influence me unduly in any decisions I am required to make (he has already said words to the effect of: you're on your own, love) and I will not shut down the entire school if a single three-year-old points at the president's official portrait and asks: "Who's that strange (small) man?" But please do not expect me on fund-raising duties the next time there is a France v Algeria match at the Stade de France. I shall be on the Eurostar out of here before the first whistle.

7 comments:

Cimon said...

As far as M. Petrella is concerned, it seems that it remains within the boundaries of what is legally acceptable. Still the president's decision remains questionned, exactly for this Bruni Teschi family (that fled away red brigades) thing...

As far as the Marseillaise blowing thing is concerned, it is the typical demagogic declaration that has no real consequence : look at the law forbidding Marseillaise blowing. Article 433-5-1 requires public outrage, which is by the definition of 433-5 non public...

I think that it is (or at least was until noy long ago) forbidden to burn or flyy up side down a US flag. And US freedom of speech standards are far beyond French ones !

parisgirl said...

Merci Cimon.
Dis donc 7,500 euros d'amende chaque siffleur...c'est une solution de la crise financière, non? (la surcharge des prisons est un autre problème.)
Bruler les drapeux...pour moi ce n'est pas la meme chose. Mais quand meme, j'ai vu plusières drapeaux US brulés en France.

Cimon said...

It seems that burning a US flag used to be illegal till 89 (from what I understand of the wiki article). For US flags burnt in France, I am not sure US law applies in France ;-)

I do not see much difference between a flag and a national anthem : they are both national symbols. The French Constitution (article 2, i.e. after the most important article 1 that states that France is an indivisible, secular republic) puts the flag first, then the Marseillaise, and last the motto (I put apart the language, that was added after the 92 Maastricht referendum so that frightened pro-French language voters could vote 'yes', and the government of the people by the people for the people thing noone knows in France).

btw, do you know why the cock (is it really how you translate a coq, like in cocktail) is a symbol of France ? C'est le seul animal capable de faire cocorico les deux pieds dans la m...

7.500 € maximum. Mais comment prouver qu'on a sifflé la Marseillaise ? Ne sifflait-on pas plutôt les siffleurs ? Les propositions de NS sont ridicules (en particulier, il est question de suspendre une partie qui n'a même pas commencé - donc c'est une annulation et pas une suspension, mais passons...- sans considération pour les milliers de spectateurs ayant payé leur billet, chanté la Marseillaise et qui seront très énervés et prêts à tout casser en sortant) et tout le monde en est conscient.
Mais il faut bien occuper l'espace médiatique, si possible en bombant le torse...

reporter said...

Bit tricky for some of the more linguistically challenged among your blog fans if you keep flitting from French to English.

parisgirl said...

Sorry reporter. My reply to Cimon reads:
Good grief: 7,500 euros fine for each whistler, that'll solve the financial crisis (though not the prison overcrowding). Burning flags is something else as far as I'm concerned. Having said that I've seen several US flags burned in France.
Cimon also makes a joke in his reply to my reply. It translates surprisingly well: Why is the cockerel the symbol of France? Because it's the only animal capable of crowing with both feet in the shit!

reporter said...

Many thanks for that dear lady. Love the cockerel bit :0).
Think England should swap it's lion for a mushroom as we are alway kept in the dark and made to eat shit.

Irene said...

Being a terribly uninformed Dutch woman, I will not touch these subjects with a ten foot pole, especially not if there is a flag hanging from it.