Tasteless but legal

The French might be odd, but they can hold the line when they want to:

A French court has ruled that posters showing a woman tied to train tracks did not promote violence against women.

The posters were put up around the town of Béziers last December to celebrate the arrival of high-speed TGV trains. They carried the caption: “With the TGV, she would have suffered less.”

The ads faced a legal challenge from a number of feminist groups and criticism by France’s equality minister.

But the court said they were legal, despite the questionable humour.

Would a British court have ruled the same way? Maybe, but they’d have found some other way to get the advert removed (as Sadiq Khan did with billboards showing nice looking women on the London Underground).

But the far-right mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, defended his campaign, accusing critics of “political correctness” and pointing to a history of such images in old films and cartoons.

After the French court threw out the complaint, Mr Ménard tweeted that the case had been “an inquisition in petticoats”.

Quite right too. Now I don’t know whether M. Ménard is actually far-right given the label is nowadays meaningless, but if so it’s rather illuminating that this is who we now rely on to advocate freedom of speech and push back against corrosive third-wave feminism.

The court in the southern city of Montpellier said the posters had been designed to provoke a reaction, and did not encourage violence against any specific group, including women.

Good. As I said after the Charlie Hebdo attack:

Nothing highlights the cultural gap between France and Britain more than the uncomfortable suspicion that Charlie Hebdo would not have lasted more than a year in the UK before being hounded out of business by the state and its backers in one form or another, as this article makes clear.

I have no confidence this advert would have been displayed in the UK. There’s a good chance anyone posting it would be charged with a hate crime.

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11 thoughts on “Tasteless but legal

  1. I think it was a recent murder/suicide by train, in France, which has led to the accusation of bad taste. Apart from that, it is a clear ironic reference to an ancient cinema trope which requires a lot of effort to work into a sense of outrage.

    Spot on regarding how we Brits would have dealt with things differently, i.e. a weaselly face-saving climbdown. Which, of course, makes it far harder for those brave people who do want to hold the line later. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that we contributed to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, and that contribution started with the Salman Rushdie episode in the 1980s. Had mobs of murder-advocating book-burners been met with baton charges, a clear message would have been sent. Cowards make it more dangerous for the brave ones, because they leave them isolated.

  2. Did you mean to say tasty?

    “but they’d have found some other way to get the advert removed (as Sadiq Khan did”

    Or as then mayor Boris Johnson did when he ordered the removal of “Gay Cure Posters” from London buses, the day before a Stonewall event.

  3. France is proudly secular, so no official statistics exist on the ethnic mix.

    One mayor (Béziers, perhaps) had the bright idea of going through several years of birth registrations counting the Mohameds or derivatives. And concluded that muslim births were a majority.

    Paris tried to prosecute him for that too.

  4. .. it is a clear ironic reference to an ancient cinema trope..

    Sam Vara, I doubt there’s a single SJW who would have even heard of “The Perils of Pauline”.

  5. “…as Sadiq Khan did with billboards showing nice looking women on the London Underground…”

    That same Khan who has just decreed that TfL should lose £125mil of advertising revenue by banning ‘junk food’ ads on the transport network?

  6. So, there’s still a flickering glimmer of hope for France then, I suppose. Pray do tell, are there also State Secretaries for, respectively, Freedom and Brotherhood among that highly esteemed Gallic bureaucracy?

  7. But the far-right mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, defended his campaign, accusing critics of “political correctness”….

    Robert Ménard is a self described reactionary. It would appear that the poster was issued by his office. That would put this in the catagory of trolling.

    It’s said elsewhere he coined the phrase Le grand replacement but wiki says promoted and supported. Either way this puts him firmly on the modern right although from a more nuanced position definitely more Pinochet than Hitler.

  8. @JuliaM on November 22, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    That same Khan who has just decreed that TfL should lose £125mil of advertising revenue by banning ‘junk food’ ads on the transport network?

    Arrrgghhh, beaten again 🙁

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