Citizens who videotape violent acts witnessed on the street and/or publish them online in France could now face jail time, passed by the French Constitutional Council. Only "professional" journalists will be able to videotape and broadcast acts of violence. The purpose of the law is to prevent regular citizens from provoking fights in order to create video to post online and profit off of (à la "bumfights," or "happy slapping"—physically attacking someone to generate a reaction and take video), but the wording of the law is broad enough that it has some civil-liberties groups concerned.
Some of the repercussions for citizen journalists, according to the new law, include up five years in prison for the videographer and fines of €75,000 for disseminating images of the acts. Part of the law specifically mentions acts of violence "committed by an agent of the state in the exercise of his duties," which is included in the list of violent act covered by the statute.
"The sections of this law supposedly dealing with 'happy slapping' in fact have a much broader scope, and posting videos online showing violence against people could now be banned, even if it were the police who were carrying out the violence," read a statement from Reporters Without Borders. Ironically, the law was passed on the anniversary of the Los Angeles police beatings of Rodney King which were videotaped by a citizen on the street in 1991. Such a videotape could land the citizen in jail if it occurred in France today, and any web site that hosts images or video of it would be paying hefty fines.
AND NOW ANOTHER REFRESHING VEER FOR “BALANCE”... A SWIPE TOWARD THE LEFT... AT OUR COUSINS IN THE ENLIGHTENMENT MOVEMENT’S “PLATONIST” WING...
Some of the leading lights in the “soft” sciences have been passing, of late. Take Jean Baudrillard (June 20, 1929 – March 6, 2007) a French cultural theorist, philosopher, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism. In popular culture, he was perhaps best known as the inspiration behind the Wachowsky Brothers’ promising -- but ultimately disappointing -- Matrix series.
Meanwhile, sociologists are mourning other milestones. “The death in late December of the distinguished political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset was an event of great importance in its own right. But it also symbolizes a more general loss to the world of ideas. The eminent sociologist Philip Rieff, whose 1966 book, "The Triumph of the Therapeutic," transformed the way we think about modern secular societies, also died recently; only a few years ago we lost David Riesman, the man who made sociology into a form of public self-examination in "The Lonely Crowd" (1950).”
Ah well. Milestones provoke thoughts. I have opined elsewhere upon the debilitating and cynically futile effects of postmodernism in its most blatant forms, ranging from Derida and Foucault all the way to today’s US English and literature departments, which are dominated largely by anti-science, anti-future and anti-science-fiction dittoheads. So, no, the problem is not purely French... though the purest essence of this galling trend seems to be Gallic.
Sociology is, I'm afraid, one of a dozen or so academic specialties that seemed quite hopeful, in the 1950s, but ran up against their inability to pass the fundamental test of a science... the making of falsifiable predictions that then allow selection choice among increasingly accurate models of the world.
While it is true that the "soft sciences" do not have to replicate the predictive specificity and rigor of physics...indeed complexity theorists (some of them physicists) sympathize with the difficulty in grappling with systems as complex as organisms and societies...
...nevertheless, a "science” is supposed to become (even gradually) better at this Popperian process. With very few exceptions, social and political and psychological theorists have utterly failed this test. (One sad example; in 1990 the now-defunct magazine PSYCHOLOGY TODAY queried dozens of psychologists about what they would call the “breakthrough of the eighties.” Not one of them mentioned the same thing. A sure sign that there were no breakthroughs at all.)
What resulted was psychological in its own right. Those who were "splitters" by personality type decided to get MORE scientific by concentrating on dividing up organisms or brains or societies into smaller units until experiments COULD show results. Brain and neuronal sciences are making great strides, for example, creating a tool set that may yet open doors into a genuine psychology, showing how we think. (Ironically, Freud started out this way, as a neurologist.)
The other famed personality type is the "lumpers"... folks who aim at grand models and theories. Such people can co-exist with splitters in sciences like physics, or even biology. But in "soft" topics, the gulf becomes almost unbridgeable. In sociology, etc, the grand arm-wavers realized that they could never, ever pass Popper's test. To a large degree, their reaction was simply to reject Popper. Indeed, to reject rigorous science and everything associated with it.
The roots of campus postmodernism can be found in the frustrated realization that these scholars could make no predictions, could propose no testable statements, and could offer no utility other than mantras aimed at stirring social conscience and moral outrage.
This latter is not to be totally dismissed. Moral outrage can be useful. Yet, the greatest reformers like Gandhi and Martin Luther King were effective precisely because they combined idealism with fierce pragmatism and a willingness to negotiate. Something that is anathema to purist radicals in ivory towers.
Indeed, the pragmatic wing of the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on incrementalism, negotiation, market solutions, science and technological innovation, is viewed with loathing by the "french wing" of the Enlightenment -- the home of postmodernist platonists who preach that all is textual and (in extremum) that objective reality does not exist. That - indeed - the very concept is inherently colonialist and oppressive.
Please, I have a portion of my brain that is artistic, romantic and passionate. You can see it erupting, in rhythmic riffs, in any of my novels. I will gladly toy with psychic powers and secret arts. Sometimes my characters alter reality by simply believing in alternatives, hard enough, or by talking the cosmos into compliance... exactly as the postmodernists seem bent on doing. In other words I know that side of life. I was born a shaman. An acolyte of Socrates. A weaver of linguistic legerdemain.
Hence I know bullshit when I hear and see it. And, sorry. But in the end you should be able to put your money where your mouth is.
Anecdotes are fine, but a field of endeavor is useful to me if I see a practitioner WINNING WAGERS with it. Making predictions that come true. Adding to the human tool set.