There have been many questions from blogger friends about the law to fight “happy-slapping” that Sarkozy defended. I have to say I just learnt about this controversy and the fact I said I would vote for Sarkozy and (try to) help him in his online campaign and his internet programme does not make me somebody who knows everything he does or support all decisions he makes. There are hundreds of people who work both at the interior ministery and the campaign headquartes, I am just a blogger citizen who decided to support him, no more. I am not paid by him, I have no official job there, I am not a politician. I am free to cancel my support to him anytime if there are decisions I do not like. Being a blogger and having done close to 400 audio and video podcasts, for sure I would not support any law going against citizen journalism and freedom of speech, like you. This is not the case here.
Being close to him and his team gave me the opportunity today to tell them immediately about the questions raised and get an answer in a matter of hours. My role ends here I do not answer for him, I took the messenger role, and will be happy to get more questions about this if needed. This is one of the reasons why I think it is good we have more bloggers with any political idea being plugged in the political process and having an access to them.
In my opinion, this is a tempest in a teapot because nobody (jounalists or bloggers) seem to have taken the time to verify what was the law saying in details. It is ok I also blog most of the time without doing a real investigation, but we should be careful about not looking like tabloid writers rather than citizen journalists about this law.
-the law aims at fighting “happy slapping” only (filming orchestrated violence and sharing the images on the web, the intention being to harm the victim)
-the law only applies to “severe violence”, being defined in French law in a very detailed way (such as torture or barbarous acts, causing permanent injuries or death, rape, etc).
-the law precisely explains that it is NOT APPLICABLE when the recording or the broadcasting:
* results from the “normal exercise of a profession whose object is to inform the public”. The journalist word is not quoted, and the law was probably designed a year or two ago when the citizen journalism movement was not that large.
* “it is done in order to be used as proof or evidence” – i.e., to alert the authorities
-the intent of the authors will be taken into account
-the Rodney King case in 1991, filmed by George Holliday was recorded and broadcasted to alert the public and the authorities of the authorities of the abuse, ie. to serve as a proof and would not be prohibited under the law
-severe violence reported by citizen journalism would not be prohibited under the law as long as the citizen journalist did it in order to alert the authorities. The law requests that he not only broadcasts the video but also alerts the authorities ie. it is ok to record and broadcast, but do also assist the victim by calling the police at the same time…
Thanks, Ethan, for the podcast.