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Thursday, November 24, 2005 

Sluts and Napoleon.

France's supposed dedication to liberty, equality and fraternity seems to be a little limited when a rapper dares to voice the opinion of some of the underclass:

A French court agreed yesterday to consider a complaint brought by a conservative MP against the rapper Monsieur R for referring to France as a slut in a song.

The court in Melun, south of Paris, said it would rule early next year on the complaint filed by Daniel Mach, MP for the Pyrénées Orientales, who said he had the backing of 150 MPs but was bringing the action "on my own personal account, because I feel assaulted by these insults. They are a real attack on the dignity of France and of the state."

The MP, the latest in a long line of people to object to French rap lyrics since the early 1990s, added: "I want to grab society's attention, to show it that everything could just explode when an audience that is already fragile listens to such songs."

Mr Mach alleged that on the song FranSSe, from Monsieur R's latest album Politikment Incorrekt, Monsieur R - whose real name is Richard Makela - raps: "France is a bitch, don't forget to fuck her till she's exhausted/You have to treat her like a slut, man." At another point, Mr Makela says: "I piss on Napoleon and on General de Gaulle."

If convicted, the rapper faces up to three years in prison and a fine of €€75,000 (£51,000). "As soon as a rapper expresses himself, bizarrely, everyone launches into him," he told the France Soir newspaper yesterday. "There are plenty of songs that are part of this country's artistic heritage and every bit as virulently anti-France, and nobody complains."

While Monsieur R is not going to win any poetry prizes for his verse, it seems a little harsh that he may well be imprisoned for 3 months for articulating what some feel about the hypocrisy of the French system. From the establishment of the republic based on those famous 3 principles, all 3 have been broken consistently.

The most recent egregious breaking was the banning of religious clothing or jewelry on state premises, under separation of church and state and on the basis that the nation is secular. A decent argument, but not one which should have become law. The authoritarian stance of some of France's politicians not only over these two issues, but also over the riots which have subsided somewhat is worrying. It's worth remembering that Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front, beat the socialist contender into third place in the presidential election. All these measures seem to be handing more ammo to the far-right, and with the French left notoriously split between Communists, Greens, Trotskyists and the main Socialist but economically liberal party (although like the right it heavily supports subsidies for the farmers), the upcoming elections could see a drastic shift to the right which could effect the whole of Europe.

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