October 27th, 2006

Behind the facade of justice: French defamation law and freedom of what?

I knew that Lurçat’s defamation trial was likely to be a short one.

The first France 2 libel suit, against Karsenty (see this for some background as to what these trials are about), had lasted only a few hours and was heard on a single afternoon. This had surprised me, and sparked a host of questions: why so short? Why hadn’t the defense compelled the release of the France 2 video taken by cameraman Talal on that fateful day at the Netzarim junction? Why had so little evidence in general been heard? In other words, what was going on here?

What I hadn’t realized was how US-centric my questions had been. Yes, of course, I knew that France has a different legal system than ours: theirs was based mainly on the Napoleonic Code, whereas ours was a predominantly common law system of evolving and changing interpretations of previous case law and statutes, under the overarching protection of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But surely, as two Western countries purporting to share a love of liberty, the law of France and that of the US shouldn’t be all that different.

It was only when I looked into the law of defamation under the French legal system that I realized the differences were not subtle, as I’d previously thought. They were major, reflecting profound differences in the attitudes of each country towards justice, its citizenry, society–and, in particular, the value and desirability of freedom of speech.

Here is a summary of French law concerning defamation; see pages thirteen and fourteen for the relevant material.

Essentially, France has made it incredibly easy to win a libel suit. Nearly all you need to do is to show that you were defamed (“any allegation or imputation of an act affecting the honor or reputation of the person or body against whom it is made”). I said “nearly all” because yes, there is a defense, and that is truth.

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But it is bad, and this is why: the burden of proof in France falls on the defendant.

That’s such a dry, legal phrase: “burden of proof.” But what it means in practice is that it’s up to the person who made the defamatory statement to prove to a three-judge panel (not a jury; this reflects the fact that the French have far less trust in the decisions of its ordinary citizen than the US does) that the defamatory statement was true. Or, if the statement concerned a matter of public importance, he/she is required to prove that he/she conducted a serious investigation before making the statement, and that the statement was measured and objective and without even a trace of personal hostility.

Check out that word, prove. It means just what it says, not “indicate he/she had reason to believe it was true” or “suggest it might be true,” or even “prove it was most likely true.” It places the burden of proof in defending against a libel suit unconscionably— almost ludicrously—high.

Compare this to the American standard for defamation, particularly for public figures (and Charles Enderlin is nothing if not a public figure). The burden of proof in the US is entirely on the plaintiff to prove the statement was defamatory, false, and malicious. In New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964, the Supreme Court established the standard: the First Amendment protected “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” criticism of public officials, at least unless it could be proved that the critic was deliberately lying or showed “reckless disregard” for the truth.

It turns out the US is serious—very very serious—about protecting First Amendment freedom of speech rights. It’s also less concerned than a country like France about the power of insults, or with the need to prevent slurs on one’s honor. “Whatever,” says the US, we can take it; what’s most important is the right to free speech. What’s most important to the French seems to be that society be courteous at all costs, even to public figures. And in making accusations against public figures, even a private citizen must make sure he has conducted a thorough investigation.

Of course, the need for a thorough investigation doesn’t seem to apply to Charles Enderlin or France 2. He’s free to broadcast any charge he wants (at least, as long as it’s PC)—for example, that the IDF murdered Mohammed al-Durah. He needs neither to prove his assertion, nor to defend himself against the charges that he misrepresented the facts, nor to show that he was conscientious in his duty as a journalist when he jumped to that conclusion based on Talal’s tapes—which present a one-minute scene embedded in almost a half-hour of other scenes that are obviously faked, do not show either father or son being hit and bleeding, and give no indication that the gunfire making the bullet holes in the wall behind al-Durah was coming from the IDF position, much less that he was shot by them.

So even if many murders were committed in the name of vengeance for al-Durah’s death at the hands of those nefarious Israeli soldiers, Enderlin knows there is no danger that anyone will call him to account—except, perhaps, the likes of defendants Karsenty, Lurçat, and Gouz. And he knows that he can always sue them with the full force of French law behind him, a law that presumes their guilt and his outraged innocence.

Well, France is France, you might say. It’s gotten along with this crazy system for hundreds of years, right? If they’re so deeply concerned that their sacred honor remain unbesmirched—even by “mere words”—and so unconcerned with the loss of their freedom of speech, what’s it to us?

Just this: we’re all potentially “caught in the crossfire” of the French press and the consequences of its allegations. It seems able to make nearly any assertion it wants with impunity, and fully ready to successfully squelch those French citizens who might dare to question the mighty reputations of France 2 and Charles Enderlin, who in 1988 earned the coveted title of grand reporter (you can look it up.)

The French press is a loose cannon, unable to be successfully challenged by its citizenry. And that’s the way the government wants it; after all, France 2 is owned and run by that government.

C’est la vie, c’est la guerre.

80 Responses to “Behind the facade of justice: French defamation law and freedom of what?”

  1. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Well, let’s just take a look at who’s being closed-minded.

    “The left wing agenda is tolerance and together forward, idealistic, but the only chance we’ve got.”

    Chance for what? Survival? Thanks, but the Israeli “neocons” have proven much better at staying alive, despite the “enlightened” European, Communist, and Islamic worlds’ best efforts to kill every last Jew, than the liberals’ agenda was, as exemplified by Neville Chamberlain.

    At least Chamberlain had enough decency to step down when his beliefs were proven wrong, but apparently the modern progressives cannot. That, I think, is the very definition of closed-mindedness.

    “The problem in France is poverty not Islam.”

    Can you prove that? The US has poverty too, but strangely no organized riots that even the army is incapable of suppressing. Wonder how it is that such poverty-stricken people can nonetheless get their hands on enough industrial-grade fire accelerants to incinerate entire neighborhoods, while the police don’t even dare arrest anyone, for fear of making things worse?

    It’s just completely incomprehensible how that works, unless you assume one of two things: a) that poverty and desperation grants people magical powers to conjure napalm and explosives out of thin air, renders them immune to violent retribution, and even that every rioter that is killed causes five new noble warriors to spring up out of the very wounded earth itself to carry on their fights, or b) that liberal beliefs are a load of crap.

    It’s sad that so many supposed intellectuals have chosen to believe option a, but I guess it’s true that everyone, no matter how smart, must believe in something stupid. Me, I’ll believe in Jebus and God Almighty before I’ll put my faith in personality cults and The Ghost Dance.

  2. goesh Says:

    -the wrath of mohammed is about to descend on them in full force – you better come home sooner than planned – the only way the disenfranchised muzzy youth can attain justice is to destablize France via burning government buildings, bombing banks and cutting the heads off Frogs in large numbers

  3. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Dennis Miller on Free Speech. here

  4. goesh Says:

    Exercising free speech and being heard are two different issues. The disenfranchised muzzie youth simply are not being heard. Obviously torching 4 buses is not doing the trick for them. If they can’t have sharia law in their enclaves and require all people in their neighborhoods to wear muslim attire and if all bars and drinking establishments can’t be closed on Friday out of respect for islam and if their is not generous economic compensation for their oppression, the disenfrachised ones will have no choic but to start killing Frog infidels and bombing their infrastructure. Inshallah.

  5. jack Says:

    I heard there are vidio tapes in Fr.2 vaults that have not been made public. Why couldn’t the defence at least ask to have them viewed by the court to enable them to defend themselves?

  6. Steve Rosenbach Says:

    Neo, thanks for your reporting on this important issue.

    It would be very valuable if you could get this post posted on Volohk.com to invite those who are familiar with French law to expand on those aspects that seem mysterious to us in the US.

    One of those mysteries, as mentioned by a previous commenter, is why can the defendant not supoena the films in the France2 vaults?

    My understanding is that slander and libel law is different in the UK as well.

    Best regards,

  7. expat Says:

    Given these different approaches to just one element of law, it is easy to anticipate the problems that could arise from the ICC. One comment I read on this was that the US would be sacrificing its right to a trial by jury. I don’t think most people realize how different western countries are.

    For example, in Germany there was a dispute between animal rights people and Muslims about butchering practices. The top court ruled in favor of Islamic practices based on the freedom of religion guaranteed by their constitution. Within a very short time, the constitution was amended to include animal rights. Not only was the speed of the amendment process amazing to me, but the absence of discussion about surrendering legislative powers to the judiciary was never raised. There are major differences in legal culture that should not be ignored by one worlders. It’s not that I am always against change. I just think proposed changes should be vigorously debated so that all sides know what they are giving up and what they are getting.

    Another difference I read about the other day was about detaining terrorist suspects in France. I don’t know all the details, but it struck me that our habeas corpus and right to a swift trial experts, whether right wing or left wing, would not be happy in France.

  8. goesh Says:

    Remember Dien Bien Phu – they did it, we can too!
    Remember Dien Bien Phu – they did it, we can too!
    Am I the only one hearing the chanting of the disenfranchised, oppressed muslim youth of France here?

  9. IbnBelafonte Says:

    i cut neck, chop head these france are evil very much so their womens are mostly nakked and in sin.

  10. Sergey Says:

    Very gloom, but educational. Our liberal intelligentia is also full of illusions in their childish admiration of European culture. And you, folks, it seems, grossly “misunderestimate” just how exeptional US culture really is, and what terrible loss would be its “europeization” on which leftists insist.

  11. unknown blogger Says:

    Doris: You have no values. Your whole life: it’s nihilism, it’s cynicism, it’s sarcasm, and orgasm.

    Harry Block: You know, in France, I could run on that slogan and win.

    —from “Deconstructing Harry” (Woody Allen, 1997)

  12. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    We can see whose best interest Han Blix was looking out for: Iraq better off under Saddam, says Blix

  13. TallDave Says:

    OK, then why can’t the IDF just sue Enderlin in a French court and force him to prove his charges? Do they lack standing?

  14. Fausta Says:

    Excellent post.

    I heard there are video tapes in Fr.2 vaults that have not been made public. Why couldn’t the defence at least ask to have them viewed by the court to enable them to defend themselves?
    As I understand it, because it’d not be germane to the particular case. The lawsuit is about Enderlin saying that Lurçat’s defaming him in what is presented to the public. The judges would examine the evidence from Enderlin’s complaint.

    As such, whatever there is in the vaults is not relevant to the case.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    The French have quite the con game going on. As expected for a nation that somehow betrayed the British to the Germans, and then got liberated BY the British and Amis from the Germans they had invited in for free.xc

  16. Gourney Says:

    You are intelligent and interesting to read. And I’d love to be in Paris.

    I just don’t get how 911 could turn you into a neo-con?

    I urge you to rethink the basis of your change of heart and believe that you have nothing to fear except fear itself, which is the basis for your new found beliefs.

    Do you understand what ‘neo con’ implies?

    Gourney Detoure

  17. ic Says:

    “France 2 is owned and run by that government”, their newspapers are also financed or subsidized by the govenment to keep them in line. They are too intimidated to criticize the Islamists, are afraid of China for boycotting their trade, the Russians for stopping their oil and gas supplies. If they criticize Brussels, their reporter’s computers and correspondence will be confiscated by the police. Thus,the only people the brave French can speak ill of are the Americans and the Israelites. And they always do a good job doing that. Poor France, no guts, no honor.

  18. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    “I just don’t get how 911 could turn you into a neo-con?”

    For me it was an Orientalization, a perspective-shift, a recognition of reality, a Kate Chopin Awaking. How could I continue to loathe relatively benign American Christians and Conservatives? If Conservatives are Nazis, then what are the Bin Ladinist, Wahhabists, Khomeinist, and other Islamist radicals? They’re surely not fucking freedom fighters — that notion is just absolute faggetry — Freedom figthers actually ‘fight’ for human freedom’ not the opposite of ‘freedom’. 9/11 shook me out of my parochial if not Imperialist, perhaps narcissist liberal shell. I think this was the genesis of my shift from a Leftist to a Neo-con, which applies to my position on foreign policy. Socially I’m Liberal, not hyperprogressive, just Liberal; gay marriage is fine, abortion is your own business, I help the homeless when I can, education is important, etc . . .

    Neo-neocon has a post in the “favorites” section everyone is free to read — I just wanted to reiterate my thoughts on this.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    And the fact that your a Jew, Isaiah.

    You forget to point that out….

  20. stmoran Says:

    I am not a Jew, Anonymous – and I could say the same as Isaiah. What do you say to that?

  21. chuck Says:

    and believe that you have nothing to fear except fear itself, which is the basis for your new found beliefs.

    What makes you think insulting people is an effective means of conversion? Telling Neo-Neocon her beliefs are based on fear is terrifically condescending and implies that you are in a position to pass judgement. The whole thing reeks of smug self importance.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I’d say that you have your own reasons that would be interesting to hear – rather than simply affirming somebody else’s personal story….

  23. Anonymous Says:

    In Isaiah’s case the most signifcant thing is to observe that he holds ‘liberal’ social views – like the majority of U.S Jews – yet he holds a quite far right, even fascist view of foreign policy.

    Quite consistant with an unwavering, unquestioning, irrational support of Israel’s policy of slow genoicide, colonization, complete disregard for international law and world opinion.

    His views on Islam, terrorism and his neanderthal like bias(which he is quite aware are irrational and to which he has no logical argument to support -beyond lying)make’s him brandish his ‘liberal’ social views as somekind of counter to the pure evilness that he supports.

    How ’bout them apples?

    It’s nice to be a hate spewing retard every now and then – just like you!!

    Quite cathartic – maybe I’m a rightwing nut deep down inside…..

  24. Gourney Says:

    Im not anti Republican, I would be a small d Democrat.

    Isiah – ‘relatively benign conservatives’? right….look around you. No idea why or how you are using the term Orientalization, in fact your argument doesn’t make anysense at all, I mean as it is written.

    Chuck – The whole (far) right wing agenda is based on fear. Think about it. Fear of the other, fear of each other. Demonization of the other. Look at the ads they are using. Look at their whole politicking…It’s a disgrace.

    The left wing agenda is tolerance and together forward, idealistic, but the only chance we’ve got.

    You may think I’m smug and self important but I cant work out how 911 would turn anyone into a neocon….and I don’t think you could explain to me how your beliefs relate to the neocon agenda. I dont think you could explain to me the neocon agenda, and I don’t think neoneocon could either.

    Iraq is a joke. Afganistan is the war. afganistan is being lost because the currnet clueless admin has focused on an irrelevant Iraq.

    Also Christian Fundamentalism is just as twisted as Islamic Fundamentalism, or Fund Judaism.

    Im as pissed off about 911 as anyone, but neocons have advocated terrorist victory. How? By dragging us down to their level, when we didn’t need to be. If our standards are the same as theirs, they have won.

    Anyone who advocates being a liberal at home and a neocon in terms of foreign policy is delusional. You’ve already lost one war, how many others do you want to humiliate us with?

  25. Sergey Says:

    It is very dishonest to equate imperialism with fascism. Classical British imperialism has brought modernity, law and order to countries where noting exept tyranny and tribal violence existed before. And decolonization was for majority of these countries a return to this primordial violence and tyranny. Idea of “liberal Empire” is viable and consistent. If you see government as public service dedicated to providing law and security, why should you constraint it to nation-state only? Why it can not be done at larger scale? This is rationale behind “Pax Romana”, and it worked with wonderful efficiency for almost thousand years. In contrast, system based on national-states and their sovereignty, failed twice during half a century with terrible concequences: two world wars, 50 mln dead. Simple question: which is better? And now US is the only viable candidate for world domination, and the most civilized and liberal country in the world. So the conclusion is obvious.

  26. Brett_McS Says:

    “The left wing agenda is …” can’t we all just get along?

    Well, it didn’t work for Jack Nicholson.

  27. Brett_McS Says:

    “Israel’s policy of slow genoicide,…”

    In other words, leaving them to their own devices. I wouldn’t call it slow, though.

  28. Sergey Says:

    “The left wing agenda is tolerance and together forward, idealistic, but the only chance we’ve got.”

    Together forward to what? To Sharia law or to principles of US Constitution? There are, evidently, two projects of future of mankind: global Caliphate with Sharia law (beheading, mutilation as punishment for “improper behaviour”, burying homosexual alive and so on) or PNAC. They are utterly incompatible. Tolerance to islamist aggression will not save you. So, as clash of civilization with barbarism is inevitable, this “idealistic agenda” looks as complete idiotism – and every other day even more so.

  29. Sergey Says:

    Ability to peaceful coexistence is not genetically inherited, universal feature. It is a hallmark of rather advanced stage of historic development. And a majority of current tribes and ethnic groups obviously lack this feature. Now Iran arms HAMAS to destroy FATH; US arms FATH to destroy HAMAS. I wish both Palestinian terrorist factions full success in their assured mutual destruction.

  30. Gourney Says:


    Together forward us giving a little and them giving a little. Sharia law is not on the table. We ALL have to secularize.

    I’m no friend of Islam, infact I have an aversion to it, but I can try and overcome this feeling of mine, not take some of their failed position of f*ck or fight. THis is not the whole of Islam, its about the same percentage as Christian Fundys.

    There’s no need to jump straight to the vagina boy…what’s wrong with starting with a kiss? as John Cleese would say. Sharia Law? That’ll be the day.

    The problem in France is poverty not Islam.

    The media are making it simple for you to lump everyone together, they’re are making it simple for you and you like it that way. I’m tempted too…but I know its wrong, not only morally but because it’s factually wrong. It’s too easy.

    That’s the bottom line.

  31. Gourney Says:

    PAX Romana didn’t last a day alone a thousadn years (are you fantasizing about a reich?) The Roman empire dodn;t last a thousand years.

    Pax Romana? Jesus. That was an idea, not a practice, you should really read your history Sergey.

    Pax ROmana? Tacitus writes that Arminius a romanized German who destroiyed the Roman legions in the battle of the Black Forest said theese words about your Pax Romana
    ‘They make a desolation and call it peace’

    Do you know how many innocent ppl the Romans slaughtered with no real need to do so?

    Talk about genocide. And Pleas I’m not fan of post colonialism but you say – “It is very dishonest to equate imperialism with fascism. Classical British imperialism has brought modernity, law and order to countries where noting exept tyranny and tribal violence existed before. And decolonization was for majority of these countries a return to this primordial violence and tyranny.”

    That’s ridiculous, you have no understanding of this process. I too am sick to the baklc teeth about post colonail countries blaming the west for everything, but this gross simplification is not on. You betray an ignorance of the facts.

    The colonialist system, the modernity that say the Brits bought with them around the world was based on their dominant position, once they left these systems fell apart mainly because the system in place was one designed to rip the hell out of the country economically with callous disregard for the ppl of these countries.

    Again simplifications here are not only wrong they’re dangerously and delusionally wring…infact very neo neo neo neocon, stupid term for stupid ideas.

  32. ExPreacherMan Says:

    Neo, Stay safe..

    Keep that apple in front of your face, run for the airport and home before the “youths” (Muslims) of Paris cross your path.

    And before the libs in France and America facilitate the “youths” version of Sharia in both places. (Not by design, necessarily but by ignorance).

    Fear nothing but the ignorance of our people.

    Remember, the libs on our Supreme Court flirt with the inane laws of Europe — especially those of La Belle France.

    Be safe…


  33. Gourney Says:

    Tallerand or whoever you are…I really can’t be bothered…but anyway…

    Do you remember the LA riots? Do you remember the raceriots in the sixties? The Brixton riots? Muslims where they? French Muzzies cant work they face incredible racism.

    Your ranting about killing every last jew is patent nonsense…Neocons saved the jews….and left handed moths stole the painting…are you getting your ideas from Marx Bros movies?

    Chamberlain’s position is related to say the Democrats how exactly?
    Heres a clue..it is not. You’re pandering to Chimpy McFlightsuit, Mr mission accomplished, who says theyll cut and run cut and run, No one is going to cut and run from anywhere, WE COULDN”T EVEN IF WE WANTED TO!!! And the crowning turd in the waterpipe is that you believe him after all this!

    Thats what a holy mess it is.

    …Modern progressives support the war in Afganistan and any where else if it is LOGICAL…not based on some bullshit agenda fed to goldfish like yourself. INfact if wed concentrated on Afganistan Osama and all the bin Ladens would be either dead or captuered and the world would be better off. We could have moved in to restore peace once Saddam had gone, or dealt with his sons who would have Gaddafified, (theyre not idiots)- plausible theory. UNDER a UN mandate as Bush the first admirably did, he did a brillinat job…his son…oiiii! God save you from such a son!

    Jewish neocons? Jewish neo cons? You mean the stern gang commies? You mean Moche Dayan the bleeding heart leftie? Who do you mean? Jewish neocons founded Israel did they? Have you ever been to Israel? Do you know how many bleeding heart lefties there are there? Do you know how many Jews did not support Sharon (read war criminal), Do you know all of the trouble stems from illegal settlemenst of rUSSIAN AND yank jews who go and steal from Arabs, yes you heard me, steal possessions…

    You guys simplify everything down, DUMB everything down to make it simple for nascar dads to swallow in between ad breaks and whose main achivement most days is to break wind on the couch while minding the step kids of unknown provenance….

    Holy crap you talk about closed minds, yours are bolted shut after you into the abyss that you will surely drag us into.

    Yes I can make a plausible case for poverty …I wouldn’t have to if you knew ANYTHING ABOUT IT. DO SOME READING AND NOT JUST THE Conservative websites that call it an ‘intafada’, next you’ll be quoting Mark Steyn…

    Stick with your personality cults and get all your politics from WHO magazine….and keep believing Bush…

    Honestly…Dear God save me from people who dont know their ass from a hole in the ground….as my friend Michale says

  34. grackle Says:

    PAX Romana didn’t last a day alone a thousand years (are you fantasizing about a Reich?) The Roman empire didn’t last a thousand years.

    It always helps if history is read or else the foot has a tendency to get dangerously close to the mouth. Most historians put the length of the Roman Empire as about 1400 years, give or take a few years. The above quote is about as accurate as the rest of the commentor’s thoughts.

  35. Sally Says:

    The left wing agenda is tolerance and together forward, idealistic, but the only chance we’ve got.

    Funny, sad, silly, and sick all at the same time. To the extent that the left has anything as coherent as an “agenda” anymore — now that their erstwhile “ideal” of socialism has been revealed as the stinking totalitarian cesspit of history — it’s to embrace the “stong horse” of Islamism, which they see as the only thing that can save them from the hated West (i.e., from their miserable and hated selves).

    The ravings of “Gourney”, just the latest lefty troll to litter here (say hello to your little friend Anonymouse, Gourney), are symptomatic of the delusion that prevails in that infected wing of politics these days — just more of the YOU’RE ALL DUMB AND BAD AND I’M NOT HA HA style of bumper sticker “argument”.

  36. grackle Says:

    Right, Sally. It’s mostly sloganeering and name calling with bit of the scatological thrown in for good measure. The knowledge of history, even recent history, is shallow, uninformed and ALWAYS interpreted through The Template.

    In general the new Liberals are elitist with a capital E and hide their anti-Semitism behind a professed anti-Zionism, usually backed up in debate by the staged ‘atrocities’ of al Dura and Jenin. We have the spectacle of Western Feminists avidly supporting misogynist cultures over their own and various other types of professed Liberal wings embracing various people and societies who would immediately murder those same Liberals if they came into power – which is their openly professed goal. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

  37. Sergey Says:

    For me the main lesson from this Neo post is that any culture that cherish honor as ultimate value is doomed to neglect truth – as it were in days of Dreifus, just so it is now. Honor culture is incompatible with ethos of Judeo-Christianity, in its French variant as well as in its Arab variant. When English travelers to ME found Arabs customary liars, they simply reflect on this feature of honor culture. So France have little to loose from its arabization – as they were pompous hypocrites, such they will remain.

  38. Sergey Says:

    BTW, the French word “Honour” was included in Russian language, especially after Napoleon invasion in Russia, but has acquired here strongly negative sense: to say on somebody that he has “to much honour” means that he is empty, pompous buffoon.

  39. Ariel Says:

    “The colonialist system, the modernity that say the Brits bought with them around the world was based on their dominant position, once they left these systems fell apart mainly because the system in place was one designed to rip the hell out of the country economically with callous disregard for the ppl of these countries.”

    I know a number of Hindus who would disagree with you, without romanticizing the British colonial system either. That is the problem with over-simplifications, isn’t it?

  40. Ariel Says:

    Regarding riots:

    Is it possible, just possible, that there are multiple causes in these very different riots?
    That one cause may be more of a factor in one riot, and another cause the greater factor in another riot? Or does one formula fit all? If you dismiss all but your own pet cause, are you really thinking?

    Interestingly, the burning of cars in France goes on day after day after day. With 14 officers injured per day.

  41. armchair pessimist Says:


    This is off the subject, but maybe we all could use a short break. I’ve read that in Russia telling lies is an old and honored tradition. Vranya, is that what you call it? I understand that it’s a little like our ‘tall tales’, but not exactly: vranya is a common courtesy between people, as shaking hands with us. Do I have this right? And is this why the Soviet Regime would routinely tell the most laughable lies to the people?
    PS: The Roman Empire. I wish there was one; the USA hasn’t the ambition for that sort of thing. China might however. Be careful what you wish for.

  42. Gourney Says:

    Grackle: Your mind is a tragedy of shakespearian proportions. You Are what you accuse lefties of being and yet you can’t see it. I’m not anitsemitic, you are you hate arabs dont you?

    The roman empire lasted 1400years?
    Errr. Wrong.
    The Republic? The Empire? The Byzantines Empire? They were all the same were they? NO.
    Back to grade school and come back with the right answer.
    And you may remove your own foot from your mouth first. That’s not knowledge your spouting its something else. something akin to belief.

    And you sweet Sally, poor thing… the right wing are trolls dear, the left are moonbats…get it right, get one thing right at least. At leaast I have a semblance of an ‘arguemnt’ you have nothing but your vacuous self obviously. Cant even afford a bumper sticker hey?

    Armchair pess ‘laughable lies’?
    I think you maybe arguing against yourself here….neocon jr.

    Sergey ‘Your Arab liar’ stand up routine needs work, probably at the bottom of a pond.

    Ariel I know a number of ppl who would disagree with you is not an argument, its nothing…Its like some of my best friends are Nazis….

    You will inherit the earth, that is the sad thing, and pass on your ideas to children, pass on your hate and fear. What’s it like to hide from the truth, wrap yourself in a flag and treat anything that isn’t simple and convenient as collateral damage?

    One last thing, your posts are not ANY different to left wing ones, change some words and they’d be Identical, Ever thought about that?
    Doubt it.

    By the way Im not left wing.
    Goodbye and goodluck…we’re going to need it with the likes of you around.
    Neocon agenda…..I’m laughing so much I’m starting to cry in pity for you….

  43. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “And is this why the Soviet Regime would routinely tell the most laughable lies to the people?”

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the Soviet Regime told lies as part of its reprogramming of the proletariat. The lies weren’t meant to deceive, or convince, or even preach. They were meant to humiliate, in order to break down the will of the people to resist the gradually increasing oppression, and later to keep the people from forming an organization that could pose a threat to the Communist Party. It’s an extremely effective mind control technique when carried out by the single source of information a community has. The effects are similar to sensory deprivation, but it can be carried out on millions at a time; and instead of creating catatonics, creates carefully designed psychotics who will do literally anything their designated authorities order them to, lest they be put back into the prison of lies.

  44. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Is there an authoritative political dictionary that can define “right wing” and “left wing”? It seems like I only half know what those mean, anymore.

  45. Sally Says:

    Buh-bye Gurney. Wipe your tears, take your meds, and get yourself some professional help for God’s sake. Or at least for your own.

    You may think you’re not a lefty, by the way, and by historical standards, when the left at least had some intellectual heft, you probably wouldn’t be — now, alas, in your general incoherence you illustrate all too well just how far that political tradition has degenerated.

  46. Gourney Says:

    poor bitter sally

  47. neo-neocon Says:

    I find it interesting that almost all of the trolls at this blog, such as Gourney, come from the UK or from British Commonwealth countries, and are often affilitated with universities. Make of it what you will.

  48. Ariel Says:


    My point was these simplistic assessments of colonialism, yours included, do not expalin what really went on. Your comparison of my Hindu friends with Nazis and your general hate-filled comments to me, without thinking as to what I wrote, shows you have no charity, and perhaps it would be better that you not bring any children into the world.

    The Hindus I know, we have a large community here, pointed out both the good and bad of British colonialism. You know only half because of your hate-filled heart. I pity you and all who think you friend.

  49. Gourney Says:

    Yes neo neo con, I am Finnish. I am using a friend’s ISP while travelling. I did go to uni once…sorry if that offends you. Never went to one I suppose? Make of it what you will…indeed you offer no arguments just… continue wearing your apple…also lefties are moonbats….trolls are you ppl.

    Ariel I apologize, I havent got a hate filled heart,(?) (I have the same reactitons as you all do but Ive been fighting them, because I feel/know they are wrong) but it is anger filled sometimes. My colonialist assertion was simplistic ofcourse, what do you want? A thesis here? Actually I can provide you with something if you are interested…on cyprus and bicommunal relations and colonialism, it;s in a book.
    Once again you are right Ariel and I apolgize.

  50. troutsky Says:

    Hey, Im no bloody brit!But the “good” part of colonialism was the jolly satisfaction they got from civilizing the brown skinned ones.All in a days work, eh what?

    Neo, why all this arcane investigation into something no one cares anything about? You should spend those air miles going to Israel and Palestine and give us an in-depth report on conditions in the occupied territory.Or Greater Israel,whatever folks here call it.That I would like to hear about!

  51. Ariel Says:

    No, troutsky, the good part was they created a unified India, with a democratic heart and the respect for the rule of law needed to keep that heart. They built a huge infrastructure, the largest railroad system of the time for example. The bad part was the sucking sound, and being ruled by invaders, obviously. Ghandi knew that his methods only worked because the occupier was the British. These are not my words but those of friends, born and raised there.

    Apology accepted. It only takes a few words to show the good and bad of anything humans do or have done. Ignore either at your peril.

  52. Gourney Says:

    OK Last time so you can all breathe sigh of relief…as Ive just read your ‘hero’ neo-neo con Mr Augean Stables, an apt name…
    And I realize the calibre of intellect I’m dealing with…

    (by the way reading Mr Stables made it obvious he’d never been to Israel, or if he had…well you’d never know it)

    By the way he is wrong, he and mark steyn and all the other fear mongers that you all thrive on are wrong…and all because of one simple thing that they have not applied to their theories, something they talk about but dont understand, something there infront of your face like that apple, I do cause it’s my job, thats the only clue. Yes Im smug as you say.

    But you’ll never know…
    Adieu neo neo con world I hope you find what you are looking for (as a good christian I can say that), I hope you find what you’re looking for…but you’ll never find it on ‘terror’ firma….

  53. Sally Says:

    Well, toutsky, we can see that that spike through your brain hasn’t improved your thinking process. Eh what?

  54. Sergey Says:

    Tatterdemalian, you got it quite correctly. Official lies has nothing to do with cultural tradition of any sort; it is technique of oppression, common to every totalitarian regime on the Earth – Cuba, East Germany, Nazi or any other. And I see now how this technique became widely used in EU under slogan of politcorrectness, in order to almost extingish free speech on some subjects. And in many US campuses it is used also, exactly to this purpose. The whole branches of scientific investigation are effectively repressed now – such as genetics of human behaviour, racial psychology and some topics in gender studies, purely because of ideological position of leftist academia. That is why you never learn in US university anything about cultural advances and benefits of colonization, only negative information is allowed.

  55. Sergey Says:

    When you understand just how powerful are propaganda lies as a technique of oppression, you can appreciate why freedom of speech is made a constitution requirement in US: where this freedom exists, no systematic oppression is possible, and where there is no one, it became unavoidable. It is an immune system of society, and its deficit is lethal to any other freedom. So you can justly view polit-correctness as an AIDS; it will kill you eventually, if you don’t eradicate it. And France with its defamation law is obviously terminally ill and will not retain its liberties for long.

  56. Good Ole Charlie Says:


    Why don’t you keep your word – if you ever do – and just disappear back to Frozen Finland. Thanks In Advance.

    France has been heading downhill since roughly the Dreyfus Affaire…another libel case at the bottom of things. Same symptom: Our Betters decide what good for the Masses. In this case as a coverup for one of their own. How familiar M. Cherac!

    Anyway, the slope downward got steeper in May 1940 when the Mighty French Army curled up and surrendered. Much to the applause of the general population.

    Remember that De Gaulle was convicted of treason in absentia (another lovely French Legal Custom) largely for calling for No Surrender. Few years later every French person was a full scale member of The Resistance.


    And the beat goes on.

    As someone said: what’s the position of Marianne (La France)? Answer: lying on her back with legs spread.

    Vulgar, but you get the idea.

  57. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Gourney, let me share with you a little secret… Survival is an ugly thing. You seem to think that, because all your needs are taken care of and the uglier aspects of your survival are carefully hidden from your view by the civilized society you live in, that the horrors committed to keep you alive do not exist. This leaves you free to call other people cruel, who do things like defend themselves using deadly force, while ignoring the fact that the social inequality where you live is enforced in order to keep you from having to do the same to stay alive.

    You don’t understand how even the smallest system of civilization works. What makes you think you can fix it?

  58. Cappy Says:

    Ahhh, much better now that the Je-hating Europeans have left. Whinmeal, I hope the Frenchies are enjoying their latest round of rioting. They deserve it.

  59. Ymarsakar Says:

    I have to admit, Sergey, Ariel, and Tatter have class.

    Idea of “liberal Empire” is viable and consistent. If you see government as public service dedicated to providing law and security, why should you constraint it to nation-state only? Why it can not be done at larger scale? This is rationale behind “Pax Romana”, and it worked with wonderful efficiency for almost thousand years. In contrast, system based on national-states and their sovereignty, failed twice during half a century with terrible concequences: two world wars, 50 mln dead. Simple question: which is better? And now US is the only viable candidate for world domination, and the most civilized and liberal country in the world. So the conclusion is obvious.
    Sergey | 10.28.06 – 6:26 am | #

    You been reading David Weber, Sergey? He is one of the notable authors that I know, that actually writes about classical liberal Empires. He gave me a different view from what the Left gave me, a demonstration of how power in the form of Empire can help people, not just hurt them.

  60. Sergey Says:

    No, I had not read David Weber. My idea of military and police as a public service is, of course, very trivial in itself, it is common wisdom. But some implications of it are not trivial. If you apply to this public service the textbook definition of natural monopoly – that is, when one supplier can provide better service for less expenditure than several competiting suppliers – it follows that empire is just natural monopoly in supplying security. Economy in scale is evident: instead of several armies and arms race you have to maintain only one, with ability to send it where problem arise. That is what Europe already do: they do not maintain armies to talk about, trusting their security on US, and placing all expenditures on US too.

  61. grackle Says:

    Wikipedia: “The end of the Roman Empire is traditionally placed on 4 September 476, as the Western Roman Empire fell to Germanic invaders. However, this view does not recognize the Eastern Roman Empire, known to modern-day historians as the Byzantine Empire, which maintained Roman legal and cultural traditions. Developing a distinct Greek Christian character, it managed to survive and even thrive for a millennium after the fall of the West, eventually being conquered on 29 May 1453 by the Ottoman Empire.”

    The common error is to confuse Republic, which ended with the Caesars, with Empire, which ended with the sack of Constantinople in 1453. For instance, there was a Roman Empire all throughout the Crusades.

    So …. Sergey was actually underestimating the length of time involved with his statement about the Roman view of government: This is rationale behind “Pax Romana”, and it worked with wonderful efficiency for almost thousand years.

  62. Sergey Says:

    In Russian historiography Byzantine Empire is never called Roman, because it is seen as Greek. As a homeland of Eastern Ortodox Church, from which Russia inherited its Christianity, it is also named Second Rome, and Russia itself – the Third Rome. I meant Western Roman Empire.

  63. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    Traditional date for the founding of Rome by Romulus is 776 BCE. I don’t know how accurate that is, but lets’ add 453 years A.D. and we get 1229 years from Romulus to Krauts.

    So the horseback guess is approximately accurate. One thousand years is a good approximation, albeit perhaps low…

  64. Ymarsakar Says:

    Ancient Roman history was always interesting. Because it parallels the US evolution of arms and government. I mean, first Rome had city-states, which were comparable to the Colonies. Autonomous places, with a Republic to represent them, and Hastati and Triarii volunteers who had to pay for their equipment out of their own stocks. So this was analogous to the officers in early American military history, who bought commissions and bought their own weapons and arms. As opposed to the grunts who had to be issued sub-standard arms or just use whatever they had.

    The fact that these “militia” guys got slaughtered in the hundreds of thousands in the 2nd Punic Wars, parallels America’s WWII. Where American forces got slaughtered and beaten up early on, but eventually won by getting better than the professional German army.

    So now we have a professional army that nobody can beat. Not in asymmetrical and not in symmetrical war.

    As America got new territory out West, they applied for statehood and was granted it into the Greater Union. How many states in this world, not including Kurdistan, would like to apply as the 51st and 59th state of America? If put to a vote, how many would vote to become part of America, sending to America a delegation to represent their people?

    America chose a different path than Rome. While Rome kept on expanding and taxing conquered provinces. America got our treasury from trade, tax free trade. This allowed America to vastly increase the infrastructure inside of America, without expanding. With a professional military born out of the victories of WWII, this also allowed America to project military as well as economic power.

    Puerto Rico is almost defacto an American state, just without the legality, and they want to keep their autonomy as well, independent of American politics. They get what they need, which is US military protection, and we get what we want, which I guess is a base and a few recruits.

    But the Left doesn’t cry about Imperialism in Puerto Rico, probably because it works. America brings stability, and they only call it Imperialism when it is like Iraq, when it is about to be stillborn and the Left wants to perform some pre-birth abortion technique.

    America occupies perhaps more territory than Rome ever did. And we do this without ever taxing the provinces in which we are in. France, Germany, Japan, SK, etc. Rome, by far, had more problems with their treasury. Too much corruption, and not enough self-autonomy for the provinces. Which is why America learned, and adapted the Roman Senate for our own. No other country, that I know of, has a “Senate”. Now why do you think the Founding Fathers looked to Rome for inspiration, eh?

    Unfortunately, the Senate is going the way of Rome’s Senate. Full of backstading traitors more interested in their own power than the good of the US. It is like history is repeating itself, people. Weird.

  65. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Well, technically they’re expected to stab one another in the back. There’s only so many federal dollars to go around, and what there is gets drained by every session they hold. If one senator is going to get more money, some other part of the government must lose it. That means they’ll try to get money away from the executive and judicial branches, too.

    As long as it never turns to literal backstabbing, it’s just business as usual.

  66. jgr Says:

    “That is why you never learn in US university anything about cultural advances and benefits of colonization, only negative information is allowed.” (Sergey)

    The Net opens holes to freedom. PJMedia recently offered a link to some pics of Sierra Leone.

    “White men – most particularly the Brits – are held in high esteem in Sierra Leone. If you stood for election on a platform of the British re-colonising the country you’d sweep to power. Only the existing pols would oppose you. It would be massively popular. This is because of Sierra Leone’s recent history.”
    (Please paste below link, separated into parts since HScan will not copy the entire address.)



  67. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Using http://www.tinyurl.com/

    You can easily convert a long URL into short URL

    Here is jgr’s same URL only now much shorter: http://tinyurl.com/tyq3l

  68. Sergey Says:

    I have heard the same from my friend, a geologist, who recently returned from Sierra Leone. He was surprized by very hearty reception here from locals, both in capital and in every provinces they visited (this was all-country survey for possible mineral deposites). They were so welcomed for just being white people; as local explained, “whites stopped ten-year long civil war, that was especially cruel: bandits from Liberia murdered and tortured local peoples indiscriminately, small children were enslaved and used as soldgers, sometimese forsed to kill their parents”. British troops under UN flag disarmed rebels, confiscated all weapons throught the country. Now even policemen do not bear arms, only umbrellas as a sign of their status.

  69. WEVS1 Says:

    Gourney, I know you probably believe what you write but that does not make it true:

    “Im as pissed off about 911 as anyone, but neocons have advocated terrorist victory. How? By dragging us down to their level, when we didn’t need to be.”

    Yeah, sure. We’ve beheaded a lot of people since September 11, 2001, haven’t we?

    “The problem in France is poverty not Islam.”

    The problem in France, and most of Europe, is they are unwilling to combat an enemy who wants to undue all the gains of the Enlightenment and return large sections of Europe to a neo Islamic caliphate.

    Also, poverty does not cause terrorism, ideology does. In fact, in the poorest countries on this planet there is little or no terrorism. But don’t take my word for it:


    “Thirty years ago, when the terrorism debate got underway, it was widely asserted that terrorism was basically a left-wing revolutionary movement caused by oppression and exploitation. Hence the conclusion: Find a political and social solution, remedy the underlying evil — no oppression, no terrorism. The argument about the left-wing character of terrorism is no longer frequently heard, but the belief in a fatal link between poverty and violence has persisted. Whenever a major terrorist attack has taken place, one has heard appeals from high and low to provide credits and loans, to deal at long last with the deeper, true causes of terrorism, the roots rather than the symptoms and outward manifestations. And these roots are believed to be poverty, unemployment, backwardness, and inequality.

    It is not too difficult to examine whether there is such a correlation between poverty and terrorism, and all the investigations have shown that this is not the case. The experts have maintained for a long time that poverty does not cause terrorism and prosperity does not cure it. In the world’s 50 poorest countries there is little or no terrorism. A study by scholars Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova reached the conclusion that the terrorists are not poor people and do not come from poor societies. A Harvard economist has shown that economic growth is closely related to a society’s ability to manage conflicts. More recently, a study of India has demonstrated that terrorism in the subcontinent has occurred in the most prosperous (Punjab) and most egalitarian (Kashmir, with a poverty ratio of 3.5 compared with the national average of 26 percent) regions and that, on the other hand, the poorest regions such as North Bihar have been free of terrorism. In the Arab countries (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also in North Africa), the terrorists originated not in the poorest and most neglected districts but hailed from places with concentrations of radical preachers. The backwardness, if any, was intellectual and cultural — not economic and social.”

    “The colonialist system, the modernity that say the Brits bought with them around the worl

  70. Gourney Detoure Says:

    You quote: “The problem in France is poverty not Islam.”

    How many of the French Arabs rioting are terrorists?

    How is their protest similar to the Palestinians? which many here seek fit to equate?

    You’ve jumped a little there…

    This is a big big problem in all your (not just you) posts, conflation simplification, it’s not helpfull at all, its dangerous and basically a response to fear.

    Im not denying terrorism exists, but everyone is not the same and ppl here choose what facts they want to.

    Eg. The kurds, people are falling over themselves to support the kurds. The kurds are terrorists.

    OK so you say that my model of colonialism is generic, ok it is, perhaps next time I will preface ‘one contentious though plausible and probable stream of thought holds that…’

    I was using the model of Cypriot colonialism.

    Beheading? SO if we do anything like blow their brains out in anyother way, draw and quarter them with heavy machine guns…yes I’ve seen faces of death on Iraq, we are more humane?

    We dont need to respond in kind, Im not a peacenik, but I believe in just wars, not oil wars, and not opening up arbitrary fronts like Hilter did with the Russian front and Bush has donw with Iraq.

    We should have pulverized Afganistan and secure it, not start on this Iraq adventure which has only given a dangerous hydra another head.

    I feel VERY let down by this administration. THe dont know how to make war nor how to control their overwhelming power. Worst of all by sidestepping the UN they have said to the world, ‘Do as we say not as we do.’ Bush 41 did not do that, Bush 41 was wise, a statesman, Bush 43 is in everyway…a disaster.

    Wes1 I take your point on poverty and terrorism and thank you for forwarding that link. If there is anything else of interest please forward.

    Generally I dont know what the idea is though here, Is it to wipe out muslims? Eradicate the ‘death cult’ of Islam? What is it? What do you propose neoneo?

  71. Gourney Detoure Says:

    If I hear one more designation fo the bloody Roman empire here….

    Also Tallerand, your piece to me was beautiful, I’ve put it on my blog as is….if anyone is still here listening?

  72. jgr Says:

    “Using http://www.tinyurl.com/

    You can easily convert a long URL into short URL

    Here is jgr’s same URL only now much shorter: http://tinyurl.com/tyq3l

    Thanks, Isaiah. You are quite kind.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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