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Censorship Government Politics

In France, Fired For Writing To MP Against 3 Strikes 379

neurone333 sends along the cause célèbre of the moment in France: a Web executive working for TF1, Europe's largest TV network, sends an email to his Member of Parliament opposing the government's "three strikes and you're out" proposal, known as Hadopi. His MP forwards the email to the minister backing Hadopi, who forwards it to TF1. The author of the email, Jérôme Bourreau-Guggenheim, is called into his boss's office and shown an exact copy of his email. Soon he receives a letter saying he is fired for "strong differences with the [company's] strategy" — in a private email sent from a private (gmail) address. French corporations and government are entangled in ways that Americans might find unfamiliar. Hit the link below for some background on the ties between TF1 and the Sarkozy government.

The Irish times has an explanation for the incestuous relationship between his government and TF1: "TF1's owner, the construction billionaire Martin Bouygues, is godfather to Mr Sarkozy's youngest son, Louis. Mr. Bouygues suggested to Mr. Sarkozy that he ought to ban advertising on TF1's rival stations in the public sector, which was done in January. Laurent Solly, who was deputy director of Mr. Sarkozy's presidential campaign, is now number two at TF1. Last year, TF1 sacked Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, the station's star presenter for the previous 21 years. Poivre had angered Mr Sarkozy by saying he 'acted like a little boy' at a G8 summit. He was replaced by Laurence Ferrari. Mr. Sarkozy reportedly told Mr. Bouygues he wanted to see the young blond on the news."
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In France, Fired For Writing To MP Against 3 Strikes

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  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:06AM (#27895711) Journal

    He's better off not working for them if:
    A) They employ such tactics
    B) His beliefs actually do strongly differ with the company's

    Now the question is under French law can he sue? If he can, the next question is will it make him less employable suing an ex-employer?

  • Unfamiliar? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:09AM (#27895729) Homepage

    "French corporations and government are entangled in ways that Americans might find unfamiliar."

    It's not so unheard of outside of France either, believe it or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:10AM (#27895735)

    How do you sue a company that is basicly in control of the government?

    Threaten to sue the law changes to say its impossible to sue that company!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:16AM (#27895763)

    Time for the French to start sharpening the blades on all the old guillotines - the only suitable punishment for Mr Sarkozy and his cronies is a proper beheading.

  • Re:Unfamiliar? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:25AM (#27895813)

    It is unfamiliar to us because of our godawful press.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @08:51AM (#27895937)

    Americans are so convinced of the virtue of entrepreneurship they are willing to give corporations and their corrupt ways a far wider leeway.

    In America, 'individualism' means believing greed is a virtue, the same as everyone else. There are plenty of people who think that in France as well, of course, but there is considerably more cynicism regarding that worldview outside America.

  • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <nicoaltiva AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:07AM (#27896007) Journal

    They fired him for "public statements;" but as far as I can tell, he never made any public statements, he only wrote, privately, to his MP.
    This kind of incident is great for us fighting this law; it produced some more ammos for the opposition in parliament, and it made the gov't look like the assholes they are.
    On top of that, it's proof positive -- if it was ever needed -- of the collusion between the gov't and the major media.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:19AM (#27896065)

    Yes, look how friendly the BBC are to the government...

    Or alternatively, we could look at the "Independent Military Experts" hired by many of the "private" news channels in the US, many of whom turned out to be on the Pentagon's payroll.

    The independence of the media depends on many things more than ownership. Even where there is no state media, independence can be compromised by things like access to state officials, the expense of trying to investigate without access and the complexity and difficulty of some stories where only government employees know what is going on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:48AM (#27896239)

    Forwarding a private letter to a third party is a giant privacy violation, I hope he will sue and win against his previous employer and the ministers that forwarded his emails. A good lawyer should be able to secure him some good money and give the cause a good publicity.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:53AM (#27896259) Journal

    This is why Thomas Jefferson thought corporations represented a danger to liberty. Corporations control the politicians, not us.

    Also if this precedent is allowed to stand, what's next? "I heard from colleaques you voted Libertarian." "Um, yeah I didn't like either McCain or Obama." "Well I'm sorry but this company doesn't support third parties since Homeland Security has designated them as terrorist-friendly organizations, so I'm terminating your employment due to incompatible non-politically correct views."

    Gee. It reminds me of being a serf, with the corporation as the lord. You depend upon the lord for your survival, so don't you dare express an opinion contrary to the lord's opinion, else you'll be removed. Classical liberalism ("the people are the ultimate authority") is dying a slow death in the face of more-and-more power grabs.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @09:56AM (#27896275) Journal
    I'd say the Human Rights Act (or French equivalent) has something to say again. There is a right to privacy. Certainly, this is dependent on what is considered reasonable, and it's perfectly reasonable for the MP to have forwarded the email to the minister responsible for the law. However, it violates any expectation of privacy if this communication between a private individual and the government makes it outside the government.
  • by brouski ( 827510 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:00AM (#27896295)

    How do you sue a company that is basicly in control of the government?

    Threaten to sue the law changes to say its impossible to sue that company!

    Is the company in control of the government, or is the government in control of the company?

  • by Beretta Vexe ( 535187 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:11AM (#27896355)

    French here

    What's your friend describe is a "mise au placard". It's a specific way to fire somebody without really firring him.
    It's extremely wrong in french for your managing staff motivations when you start to fire people without serious reasons and it's pretty hard to prove and convince every body that some body don't actually do as expected. So you don't fire him but progressively put him in a position where he don't have responsibility, interesting works, no computer, no phone, etc... and you simply wait that he resign by himself.
    If he resign he isn't cover by the social protection law, so it's cheaper for you, better for you managing staff, etc...
    The only problem is went you push it to far ( excessive work load, harassment, etc ) and the employ commit suicide ( Renaud technocenter serial suicide at work )

    The "mise au placard" have nothing to do with this case where the employ was fired for "important fault". In this case the employer say "you committed an important fault in regard of the company, you are fired, you will not get the social protection".

    Driving a truck drunk = important fault
    sending a mail to his MP = ?

  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:14AM (#27896369)

    It's actually quite telling that a country that took a stand so strongly against invading and imposing outside will on a country's freedom is entirely failing at understanding and dealing with the more subtle corruptions of big media and government.

  • by AlmondMan ( 1163229 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:37AM (#27896527)
    Because you are a member of a religion does in no way make you a religious person, and you can easily be part of a church and remain atheistic.
    Read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion for some more facts on the subject. Your founding fathers abhored the idea of religion in charge, and I'm sure they would be completely aghast with the current state of the country they helped build.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:38AM (#27896539) Journal

    Secular and atheist aren't what you think they are in this context.

    The concept wasn't secular as much as government control and control of the government. This is why the first amendment says congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof and not "no government entity can express anything religious".

    The concept was that the government could express religious morals and values insomuch as it was a reflection of the people but no binding to those religions could exist further then the representative or government official. In Jefferson's letter to a church as a governor, he spoke about the wall of separation in an attempt to explain this concept to a worried pastor who thought his church was going to be outlawed. This wall of separation has been exaggerated and grabbed by the courts and some idiots actually think the term wall is in the constitution. But by all means, Neither Jefferson or any of the founding fathers wanted a strict secular state. They wanted a state that reflected the people and could change with the reflections of the people.

  • Re:Thanks France! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @10:49AM (#27896643)

    What about Halliburton? I'm fairly sure only offering contracts to the company the VP used to be CEO of is much worse than the standard run of the mill corruption! At least the US is still #1 in some things!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:09AM (#27896815)

    In essence it's not a personal communication between two people, but rather between a citizen and his government. I'd expect the MP as part of normal duties to forward concerns of citizen to the appropriate department.

    Yes, passing it to the government department is probably fine. The government passing it to his employer, however, was completely uacceptable. I'm having trouble believing that there's anyone who can't see that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:10AM (#27896823)

    The concept was that the government could express religious morals and values...

    But then there's the 10th amendment:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    If the founding fathers had wanted the federal government to "express religious morals", they could have laid that out as something the government was supposed to be doing.

    Regardless of what the founding fathers wanted, I personally don't want government officials spouting off religious nonsense in any kind of official capacity. It's not even remotely a necessary function of government so the government shouldn't be doing it.

  • Re:Unfamiliar? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by netux ( 806209 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:25AM (#27896915)

    Ever heard of Haliburton?

  • Re:Unfamiliar? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrMr ( 219533 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @11:30AM (#27896945)
    Sarkozy is definitely no socialist, he was more like a soul-mate of Bush and Blair in many respects.
  • Back then, protestantism meant something quite different to what it means in the modern US.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @12:04PM (#27897205) Homepage

    Which makes the whole thing so mind bogglingly stupid. Not only did that idiot executive fire them employee for the wrong reason but the executive in their own bloated self worth gave the unfairly dismissed employee all the evidence required to sue the company for unfair dismissal and of course the attempt by the company to strip away the rights of a citizen and to threaten all other employees of that company with similar action should they ever express an opinion that differs from the policies expressed by management.

    It is obvious to everyone that the company will lose this case and loose it badly with a very strong likelihood of punitive damages, the only thing this is not so obvious is whether that idiot who choose to fire the employee well be fired themselves for gross stupidity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10, 2009 @12:08PM (#27897235)

    Your founding fathers abhored the idea of religion in charge

    So? Regardless of how factually correct your statement is, how does that make them atheists?

  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @12:47PM (#27897547) Homepage

    You are all kinds of wrong on claiming the founding fathers of the United States were "a type of atheists". 1.9% were Catholic, 1.9% were unitarian, and the balance were Protestant Christians. (

    Also, the United States is in no way a fundamentalist state. First, we have no state religion. Second, you are free to practice the faith of your choice or not, period.

  • by rliden ( 1473185 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @12:49PM (#27897567)
    They didn't just want a country where the church didn't affect the state, but also where the state didn't affect the church. It had been an ugly muddle in both directions.
  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @02:29PM (#27898425)
    Yeah, Europeans are just so cool. Find me any group of European countries that comprise 300 million people, and tell me how much better off they are now. In 5 years, when EuroSocialism breaks down even further, come back and tell me again.
  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @06:44PM (#27900177)

    Your founding fathers abhored the idea of religion in charge, and I'm sure they would be completely aghast with the current state of the country they helped build.

    That doesn't make them atheists, it only means they knew what would happen if a single organized religion took control of the secular government.

  • by Brother Seamus ( 937658 ) on Sunday May 10, 2009 @06:46PM (#27900197)

    ... the problem the US has with the "right to live" is that it eliminates the death penalty, not that the government wants to reserve the right to kill, kill, kill.

    What exactly is the difference?

  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:03AM (#27903431) Homepage Journal
    Why is this insightful? European social democracies have been sitting there, giving their citizens a better quality of life than the US, for decades, and there's no reason at all to assume it won't continue. (Given how your national debt's going, the US should be more worried about where it will be in five years.)

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!