Friday, March 24, 2006

Freedom, respect, and other morals... By Thomas

To continue yesterday's post, I have decided to extend my thoughts in different directions (especially after reading all of the comments). This will once again reflect mainly a personal opinion, so I don't expect anyone to agree.

If there is one thing that definitely differs between France and USA is the perception of the notion of freedom. For example, the Freedom of speech (and I think this is mainly what I am going to talk about here) is used to convey any idea, thought or philosophy. I have no idea what the spirit of the text originally was, but nowadays, people will use that particular freedom of speech to justify anything they say, because they can. It is guaranteed in their Constitution. And in a way it is a good thing.

In France, a text similar to the Bill of Rights was written in 1789, the Declaration of the Human Rights. Just like the American one, this declaration ensures the freedom of the individual, but unlike its American cousin, that freedom is not without bounds. My freedom has no bounds other than those that ensure to the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights. These bounds may be determined only by Law. The same way, The free communication of ideas and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. Any citizen may therefore speak, write and publish freely, except what is tantamount to the abuse of this liberty in the cases determined by Law. This difference may sound awful to Americans as it is really hard to define these boundaries, and in a way I will tend to agree with them. But....

(Now I guess my title will start to make sense) These bounds are in a way nothing but respect for others, and our limitations in what we say, or do, are a question of morals. Now as great as the Bill of Rights may sound, there is one thing bothering me. It's when that freedom of speech is used to promote or trivialize racial hatred and xenophobia(American Nazi Party, KKK...or trivialization of French Bashing)... In a world of tolerance, and mutual respect, the first amendment would be perfect. But human nature is not as such. And so when someone is bashing or insulting a whole race, a whole people or a whole Nation, with the justification of Freedom of speech, and in return expect no resistance reaction, I don't agree. I know I sound very French here and I don't expect any American to agree, but should we accept, in the name of Freedom, the most extremist ideas, and say nothing against it? My answer is no. If people are not able to put themselves limits, should the society set moral bounds? Yes, that's what laws are.

Now to answer a more specific comment that said: What I don't understand is if so many people are unhappy with her blog, why keep reading it?. Isn't that saying: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? I don't like it so I pretend it doesn't exist? In that specific case I talked about yesterday, I am not denying her the right to be frustrated and express it, but if she can't use a bit of "esprit critique" and know when her comments are insulting to others (or to me - insulting a country is insulting every citizen of it), then yes I have to right to say I don't agree. ( I would also like to mention that in return, I have never insulted her back, and would never). In other words, if someone wants to use his/her freedom of speech, at least show a bit of respect for people. That is all I am asking for. If that is too much to ask, well let me know.


At March 24, 2006, Anonymous Pumpkin said...

While I agree with you on the blog we have been talking about and I feel bad that she has not come to defend herself, I can see someone taking your post and saying that France should not have printed the cartoons for example. Freedom of speech is a tricky one let me tell husband and I bat it around all the time. I think my personal views are more in line with the French version you just described while my husbands is with the American version...interesting, huh?

At March 24, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

Well I would love her to read and comment... as for the muslim cartoon, I remember an poster ad of a nun kissing a priest (benetton) and they had to take it out. So it is very hypocritical to say it is freedom of the press to publish Cartoon of Mohamed. But what is shocking to me is not much that they were published, it's the fact that they were publish eventhough we had seen they were offensive to people and there were riots a bit everywhere (as a matter of fact the ad of the nun hasnt been published again after the protest)... Respect and Tolerance should always come before Freedom. Now I know some will say that muslims are not tolerant so why should we... Well maybe we are smarter than that? You can tell someone to piss off without insulting him back, can't you? When you convey a message, there is the substance which is the most important and there is the form. Playing on the form is called diplomacy and doesnt mean you are not as strict on the substance. About these cartoons, I totally agree about the message, I am not sure the form was the best choice, and insisting on it while it is obvious it causes problem is called, to me, stupidity.

At March 24, 2006, Blogger Riana said...

I like the French version better, no one gets hurt that way. She hasnt defended herself, because ignorance is bliss, she doesnt think she is racist, so she doesnt have a problem.

My problem with "her" (and I have only read her blog twice, that was enough) is that she is representing America in France and inturn pigeon holing herself, by stereotyping French, Arabs, etc by using her freedom of press.

Anyone who reads her writing is going to get the wrong idea about many cultures, just because she has self-esteem issues and blames France for all of her problems like lack of friends, being a stranger in a foreign land and the hardships that go with that, besides her obviously unhappy marriage.

I want to divorce her and I dont even know her!

At March 24, 2006, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Riana - I think you've said it well..
I don't want to be one to comment on things like this because I tend to swarm towards those who are positive and love life. Sure we might have problems but I'd rather encounter those on my own away from the internet...

At March 25, 2006, Anonymous Pumpkin said...

My point was that in France the cartoons were published while many American media outlets were critized for not publishing these cartons because of being so offensive to Muslims. French critized Americans for not publishing these cartons because Americans were "afraid". American media that did not print the articles stated that they did not print the cartons out of respect for the Muslim religion.

In this case how freedom of speech is applied switched its respective countries. I found that interesting.

Also, if a poster of a nun kissing a priest was pulled in France then why were the cartons not???

At March 25, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

Interesting questions right? Now my question is... if muslims around the world hadnt been violent about the cartoons but had just said they were finding them offensive, would the french media have published them? I am not sure. The whole publishing process was more to affirm the fact that it's not a foreign country which would dictate what they could publish or no.

Also, and unlike it may appear, 62% of french are catholics (only 13% are going to church) 26% are not believing in god, 6% are muslim (there is an article about it in Le monde, 17 april 2003). Just like with subject such as illegal immigration, not a lot of people will admit, because they dont want to be classified (my brother in law is working for the socialist party, if I say that we should have some control on immigratin, he will jump on me and say I am a racist, a neo-nazi and I vote for Le I shut up, same with religion).. Catholic are, like the Jewish, still powerful, Muslim aren't... Plus France is somehow not that tolerant about Islam in general.. I dont say I have the explanation, but that's how I see it... Would they have been published IF the reactions hadnt been so violent in the first place?

At March 27, 2006, Blogger Pumpkin Pie said...

I don't know...but, that is a good question.
However, it still doesn't make it right.

At March 27, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

I never said it was right... it is just hypocritical in that specific case...

At March 27, 2006, Blogger Pardon My French said...

I'm way late in commenting but I just wanted to add something as a blog newcomer. It's been interesting to see all the responses and discussion on freedom of speech that this blog has created. Even though I don't agree with all of her statements nor do I know her personally, I am pretty worried about her. It seems like she's got a lot to handle right now -- I know, we all do -- but the title of her blog says it all. I read her blog differently and as a result I would not label her as a bigot or a racist. I see her as a young woman who feels trapped and without choices...didn't anyone else see Le Divorce?!? But when all is said and done, she married someone from another country, moved here, and had his child. I guess that doesn't automatically make her not a racist, but to me it does make a difference. This is not someone who hated the French or France or foreigners in general because of ignorance - this is someone who is reacting right now to a very difficult situation. I don't want to start listing all the things that seem to be on her plate, but if you've read all of her posts I think it's pretty easy to read between the lines and find sympathy for her. Obviously she didn't feel that the way about the French to begin with or she wouldn't be here. I just can't imagine anyone reading her blog and taking it as the gospel truth, or not wanting to just make her a cup of tea and try to comfort her.

At March 27, 2006, Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

I do agree with you that she must have a lot on her plate, and when I see her picture on her blog, I see a beautiful girl with something missing, although she has a smile, It's empty.

I continued to read her blog, and I know she is just venting...I could not, and would not comment on any of the nasty stuff she was saying, but when she was feeling happy about the sun coming out and such, I was saying, that I was so happy she was having a great day! I was really hoping things were looking up for her.

I was in a crappy marriage, I felt horrible about life, and I can relate somewhat to her, I was not in a different country, only a different state, but away from my family.

So I kept reading, concerned for her, hoping she would find balance. Knowing that once I felt that way, and it helped when people were trying to cheer me up, it was comforting knowing people were hoping I was happy again.

Then she started writing about how she was not keeping happy blogrolls and that she just could not understand people making comments about her when she had a positive post. Okay so I thought, I won't bother saying anything even nice to her, she obviously is not taking well wishers.

I guess, now I have a hard time feeling like she needs a hug or a cup of tea, as I had offered that to her, and she acknowledged most of her cheering section flippantly!

Some people are just negative about everything in their life, nothing is ever good enough, when she was in usa, it probably wasn't good enough here. It is sad I guess..sigh

I visit plenty of blogs that are good reads, and not insultive to the people I love or well people in general. I love the blogs that the expats are complaining about how things are different, and they miss USA. I don't mind stories like that,I love the differences in cultures... but she's not only negative about her experiences, she is totally insultive to a population.

Its just my opinion:)
~ Kim

At February 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! » »

At February 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice site! »


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