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French Mayor Slaps Backtalking Teen, Sparks National Debate About Discipline

The mayor of Cousolre, a small village in northern France, was recently sentenced by a court for slapping a wisecracking teenager. The verdict led to an outpouring of support for the 63-year-old “disciplinarian,” and has even entered the French president

Mayor Boisart straddles no fence (France 2)
Mayor Boisart straddles no fence (France 2)


PARIS -- Maurice Boisart's decision to smack an insolent teenager earned him a slap on the wrist last month from French authorities, who placed the 63-year-old small-town mayor on probation. The surprise came when the legal sentence triggered an avalanche of support from people in France and elsewhere who defended Boisart's behavior.

The incident occurred in August 2010, when the mayor of Cousolre, in northern France, spotted a 15-year-old boy climbing over a fence. Boisart reprimanded the boy, who responded with an insult. That's when the mayor gave the adolescent a quick slap across the face.

For many people in France, the l'affaire de la gifle (the slap affair),as it's been dubbed by the media,has triggered a wave of nostalgia for times when titles like "Mr. Mayor" and "Mr. Teacher" still meant something for the youth, and when old-school discipline didn't automatically lead to trials. Indeed, Boisart has received more of 1,500 letters and e-mails of support from all over France, as well as from nearby Belgium, Switzerland, and even the United States and Bangkok.

In the heap of letters Boissart received, several teachers point to a failure in parental education. Others praise the mayor's reaction to what they see as France's alarmingly "laissez-faire" approach to child discipline. A psychiatrist has even volunteered to testify in favor of the mayor in an appeals court.

The slap affair also caught the eye of national politicians, especially with the French presidential election approaching fast: leaders of the National Front, an extreme right-wing party, have announced their support for the mayor, while the incumbent, President Nicolas Sarkozy, has publicly made reference to the slap several times – much to the mayor's dismay.

The only support Mayor Boisart actually cares for is a letter from a father, which reads: "I've just lost my 15-year-old son who was playing in a fenced construction site near our house. Why wasn't there anyone to slap him on that day, and keep him from climbing over that fence?"

Read more from Le Monde in French, original article by Pascale Robert-Diard

Photo – France 2

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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