From Augean Stables this awful story:
I have heard from Paris that Philippe Karsenty was found liable for insulting Charles Enderlin and France2 to the sum of 3000 Euros to Enderlin and 5 symbolic Euros to France2. I do not have the judgment and only a vague account of the reasoning, which criticizes Philippe for not having done more research.
The implications of this reversal of Madame le Procureur’s clear recommendations, for what appears to be — we’ll have a translation and analysis of the judgment ASAP — a critique of Philippe that somehow absolves Enderlin of all of his journalistic failings, failings that came out abundantly in court, are deeply troubling.
It's pretty strange to claim that Karsenty didn't do enough research since that's the gist of his criticism of Enderlin. How much criticism of the press, of political figures, of ideas is allowed in nominally free and democratic France? Were I there, would I be liable for making such a statement and "insulting the institutions of France?" Better shut me mouth then!
Here in North America, you'd have to prove, not that Karsenty was wrong but that he knowingly lied and did it maliciously in order to hurt Enderlin. Enderlin would also have to prove damages. Was he fired from his job, for instance? If Karsenty criticized Enderlin's decisions and coverage because he felt the story was wrong, that would clearly place him outside the laws of libel.
It shows how strongly aristocratic France is, despite its democratic pretensions. It's not just this story: there are plenty of issues where the ruling elite simply ignore the will of the people. The EU constitution is dead, for instance, but the bureaucrats go on, interpreting a no vote as a "yes-if-we-were-only-just-educated-enough-to-understand-it" vote. Who was the Frenchman who said that no-one really understands the whole document? That's a blueprint for autocracy and we've seen its smudged fingerprint today.
Or perhaps the justice just couldn't get a particular image out of her head: that of the Jew soldier standing at the foot of the Cross, a nail and hammer in his hand.