I was mean to the French the other day, so honesty compels taking another look at the cultural reaction there to the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Empirical conservative Jim Manzi, who works in France, reports that he personally didn’t hear anything that he wouldn’t expect to hear in the US– the French folks he spoke with reacted with surprise and disgust to the news. (Some of his commenters, sensibly, draw on polling data that differs from Manzi’s personal experience).
More broadly, this article in the Guardian chronicles the counterreaction from a number of prominent French women, which has made a dent in the national conversation. “[B]y the end of last week the tone of debate had mellowed, and [an earlier-quoted journalist who had said unacceptable things], for one, had admitted his words had been ‘unacceptable’”. But the fact remains that there was an initial reaction for them to respond to. And there’s this background: “Figures for 2011 lay bare those deficits: women make up 18.5% of MPs and 85% of casual workers. In the gender pay gap survey released at Davos, France came 46th. Britain was 15th.”
It still doesn’t look great. But it’s not fair to leave the impression that all of French discourse is the stream of inanity we’re hearing from Bernard Henri-Levi.
And it’s not like the French invented special treatment for famous people with talent in high-profile fields.
Here’s Gary Glitter covering Phil Spector: