When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

France After Strauss-Kahn: The Perils Of Politics, Sex And Rumors

Editorial: Without offering any hard details, Ex-Education Minister Luc Ferry went on television to say that a former cabinet minister took part in an orgy with young boys. Le Monde says Ferry is the one who's guilty here - either of not reportin

Luc Ferry (Medef)
Luc Ferry (Medef)

PARIS - You will always leave something behind when you slander. Appearing this week on the Canal Plus pay television channel, Luc Ferry, a prominent philosopher and former French education minister under Jacques Chirac, launched this accusation: a former French cabinet minister had once been "nabbed in an orgy with young boys in Marrakech, Morocco."

Mr Ferry launched his allegation at a particularly poisonous moment for French politics, which is already abuzz with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair and the Georges Tron case. Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief, was arrested last month on charges of attempted rape in New York, while Tron, the French Civil Service undersecretary, had to step down following sexual assault allegations leveled against him. In both cases, the media have been criticized for past leniency towards some politicians' personal behavior.

Ferry's public declaration should be condemned for two fundamental reasons. If he had been sure of the facts for a long time, he would be guilty of failing to report a criminal act. As the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppé rightly says: "if you have been convinced that an offense or even a crime has been committed, you complain to the Court of Justice. You don't blather on about it in the media."

Otherwise, if he has just been hawking some rumors, Ferry's words are slanderous. Of course, he can claim he has not given any name. But the Internet and Twitter have assisted on that front: various public figures have been cited online, with several forced into responding to the accusation despite the utter lack of evidence.

The media trap is closing. Some people may think that writing nothing about a problem inevitably means being party to it. On the contrary, writing something means lending credibility to accusations that could not be refuted, or that could leave lasting marks in people's minds.

There is a grave precedent for this scenario: In 2003, the former mayor of Toulouse, Dominique Baudis, was unfairly mentioned in the media as being linked to the case of accused serial killer Patrice Alègre.

The Ferry affair was set off by the May 28 issue of Le Figaro Magazine, which dusted off old rumors that have never been backed up. Names of imagined culprits quickly spread on Twitter.

Mr Ferry affirms that he does not have proof of what he has put forward. But at the same time he said he was happy about having opened the lid on the question. Such behavior is unworthy of a man who has until now been seen as an intellectual voice of reason on the political right. This attitude fuels a generally suspicious climate, which can only play into the hands of the far right. Ferry also gives free rein to conspiracy theories with allusions to evidence given by "high-ranking state authorities."

The Paris prosecutor's office has done what it had to: it has opened a preliminary inquiry into the philosopher's allegations. French government spokesman François Baroin says that Ferry has become "the protagonist" of the rumor. While it is good to see the justice system doing its part, that cannot undo all the noise that was made without revealing anything.

Read the original article in French.

Photo - medef

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ