Enjoy: French Intellectuals on Violence

This transcription is sketchy at best. I could not hear everything, and some of what I heard was not understandable. But the parts I did understand were worth noting and passing on to others who may not have had the pleasure of seeing this TV show when it first aired several months ago.

The discussion is about violence in French society, especially juvenile violence, in view of a recent school stabbing that is discussed mid-point in the 5-minute Daily Motion video. The speakers include a historian, an artist, a psychologist, and at least one young man who seems to be of foreign origin. The others all appear to be Europeans, but I really can't be certain of their origins.

We should remember that the video is pieced together from a longer version. Therefore, it may not be a totally accurate representation of the discussion. But it was so funny, I couldn't resist:

Moderator: Welcome. We're going to talk about the increase in crime in French society. Especially juvenile crime. Is French society becoming more and more violent, or are we becoming less tolerant of violence?

First speaker: I travel a lot, and I would say that compared to countries like Mexico, countries of South America, or South Africa, you can't say that violence in France is on the rise...

Second speaker (a female, later identified as historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu): In general, from ancient times onward, there has been a steady decline in violence, but at the same time there is an increase in the demand for security...

Third speaker (identified as writer Antoine Bello): French society is less violent than in the past, I agree with my colleagues on that. Compared to past eras, such as the Middle Ages, the French Revolution, the Commune [...] French society is much less violent.

Fourth speaker (later identified as artist Ivan de Montbrison): I agree with the others that French society is less violent, compared to Pakistan...

At this point the video cuts to a report on a stabbing in a middle school. A female teacher was stabbed by a disgruntled student angered because he was being punished for not handing in his homework. The teacher was alone in the classroom. The 13-year-old came in and took out a knife, threatened to kill her, and stabbed her above the left breast, causing an internal hemorrhage. The student is not what one would call a problem child (according to the reporter). The teacher recovered from her wound. The round-table debate continued with this incident as its focal point:

First speaker (his words are not clear): This student who stabbed his teacher... It happens to everybody. There are even writers who condone killing one's father...

Second speaker (artist Ivan de Montbrison): I think the kid who stabbed his teacher identified with his knife as a phallic symbol... that's my opinion. It's completely normal. Why did he actually do the deed? Because he was in a situation that pushed him into doing the deed.

Third speaker (a man with a long white beard, apparently some kind of "psychologist"): Well, here too, there was a desire to be heard. I think that often violence is a means of expression more than an action. Often violence is a sign of suffering. I think probably there was real suffering in this young man, a malaise, and he really didn't think about what he was doing. He was depressed...

Note: there was quite a malaise in the teacher too, after being stabbed in the breast.

Fourth speaker (artist Ivan de Montbrison): The only violence I see is in our dear President who expresses verbal violence on a daily basis. It's completely disproportionate to focus on one person, or on this young man. It was a psychological phenomenon that pushed him into stabbing his teacher. It was a sort of confession [?] a need to purge himself through his weapon... But it's completely disproportionate...

Fifth speaker (a young man with a short dark beard): Rehabilitation is called for if it's possible. I think violence is necessary. When I raise my voice it's because I have something to say. Violence is part of life. When you're oppressed, it is necessary... It can happen during a war, during a strike... [Here he is noisily iterrupted by the first speaker who insists that a strike is not violent, but a purification, a kind of spiritual experience. The young man pursues his notion that violence happens all the time.] If you've stopped working there is a conflict with your boss. It's life, if you live in society there is always the risk of violence. Birth is violent. Certain sectors of society have institutionalized violence: the school system, the police, the army, etc...

Note: The above is only a portion of what he said. He spoke rapidly and did a fair amount of repeating. His notion that there is always some risk of violence is not wrong, but the question is whether or not violence in French society today has been encouraged by laxness, permissiveness, political policies, and other social pathologies that could have easily been prevented.

Sixth speaker (historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu): The idea of zero tolerance for minor crimes ["delinquance"] is an absurdity. Everyone knows there is no such thing. Minor crimes are a sign of a healthy society.

Seventh speaker (writer Antoine Bello): We're lucky in Europe. There is not a lot of violence.

The reactions by Daily Motion viewers are for the most part incredulous:

- No. LOL. Is this possible? Did this really happen on TV? Are they really sincere? I must be dreaming, having a nightmare, I mean... How can anyone say such idiocies on TV? Before, someone said: "Soon we will be justifying killers, muggers, we'll excuse them and help them more than the victims." Well, it's a done deal! We are lower than dirt. France is a rotten country thanks to people like these. Venerate them! They are quite simply extraordinary...

- Hell, I'm having hallucinations... How can so many idiocies come out of one TV show?

Enjoy the video. Even if you don't know French, watching the faces of these experts will make your day.

Violence en France ? Pas pire qu'au Pakistan


I love it when he starts talking about 'sous-culture'. I agree with him on a lot of things. Sadly his views are so out of line with those held by the majority of the French establishment (or perhaps Frenchmen in general) that nobody seems to take him seriously. Perhaps they only invite him to talkshows to have a good laugh. Then again, at least they still invite him and allow him to finish his discourse. (Well, sometimes.) Which generally cannot be said of political reactionaries in a certain unnamed country.

Zemmour #2

@ traveller: I have been living amongst the French for well-nigh nineteen years, and I can tell you most of them are cattle, if not in looks or guise, they are sheep at heart. They will sometimes in the privacy of a family dinner confide in you, and admit they cannot stand the rapid Islamicisation of the country, or the present attempts at scraping our culture and liberties, but when in the polling booth, they will remember their allowances and welfare, and cast their ballot for some leftist/state-inclined party. Of course, some of us always will protest and oppose the changes imposed upon us, but a huge majority will just keep silent and wait for others to act, which is why I resolved to leave France as soon as I can. I do not trust in this country's prospects. Some countries may awaken from their long slumber, and I like to think the UK, Denmark, Germany and a handful of others will realise what is going on before it is too late, but I would rely on France for nothing on earth, although I might be wrong.

@ pale rider: I do like Zemmour as well (except for his anti-capitalist fits) but he stands no chance, and nobody but a handful of people will seriously hearken to what he says. Most of the time, he has to be invited in order to pretend freedom of speech, and indeed freedom of differing in one's opinions, still is, to some extent, respected. It is just a pretence really, everybody who is like-minded and has been regularly watching the French television knows what I mean. You would be hard-pressed to think of a more socialist country all over Europe (well, save Belgium perhaps), both in spirits and economic structure (even welfare-addicted Sweden has been swinging the axe to slash spending for a decade or so).

French specialty

There may be the same kind of "intellectual" nonsense in the US for all I know, but I would not dream of comparing America to France as far as freedom of speech is concerned. We have got no First Amendment of our own, nor shows roughly equivalent to that of, say, Michael Savage. If somebody was to suggest firm action on the part of authorities when dealing with uprisings in our suburbs, the poor devil would swiftly be put behind bars. The show that has been advertised in the present article is, I fear, typical of the current French mindset. People are accustomed (even encouraged) to complaining, wallowing over themselves, asking for the government to help. Most French are also unable to grasp the reality, they refuse to acknowledge what even official statistics demonstrate, viz. a tremendous rise of violence in France. "Intellectuals" are randomly picked up in order to come up with their fuzzy stories in order for tempers to cool down. And you will find no alternative on French TV. At least, America still has some outspoken people who speak on the radio like Mr Savage, Fox News claims a handful of more enlightened personalities as well. There is no such thing in France (although we have been endowed a couple of more vocal intellectuals, like Eric Zemmour--a firm opponent of multi-cult--, but even those frequently overindulge in capitalism-bashing, which is also very common in France). I have been saying the same thing over and over, as I am well aware, but France's mentality is that of losers, a trodden-down people. When faced with unpalatable events, the French intelligentsia will simply deny the facts, and entrench into rickety explanations, and be allowed to be blindhooded not to meet with reality, so they do not have to question their judgments. And were you to dare debate those absolute geniuses, they would throw a wobbly and call you names to the distinct pleasure of a carefully-selected audience.    


You have a very good idea of the French.
I love Zemmour, but sadly there is only one. What happened to Elisabeth Levy? I don't see or hear or read her anymore.

Re: Sarc Tag

In HTML, tags can format one's text. If you look at the bottom of the comment box you type in here, you'll see a list of "Allowed HTML tags", which can make your text "bold", or "italicized", etc...

"Sarc" tag means he should have used:

/sarc - to indicate that his remark was sarcastic. It's just a play on HTML language.

Re: Astonishing

Mr. Lee must have forgotten his sarc tag.  I believe he is a college professor, so he cannot be unaware of how easily the same idiocy can occur in an American university.


Astonishing # 4

@ Capodistrias

No, one should NOT assume that Mr Lee was being facetious, for he is obviously a 'native' (no pun intended) American.  The degree of sarcasm that you, Capo, are implying is more typical for Belgians (and, to a lesser extent, other West Europeans) than it is for Americans.  

Furthermore, one can easily observe a strong strain of anti-Europeanism in Mr Lee's infrequent commentary on this blog.  This is not a 'charge', but rather a factual observation, for his feelings are understandable and he often provides good justification or reasons for them.

So, I do not think that he was being facetious, but rather that he briefly forgot the lamentable condition of America in the 'age of Obama'.  Of course, only he can confirm which one of us is right on his thinking.


Astonishing #3


I assumed Frank Lee was being facetious, since you are right this 'thinking' is not at all hard to stumble upon in campus coffe shops / American elite salons across the US.

Astonishing # 2

@ Frank Lee

You cannot be serious.  Have you ever listened to 'discussions' run by Bill Moyers (with 'intellectuals') on PBS, almost every week?   You must be aware of statements made by a panoply of Obama associates  (currently Czars/advisers).  I suspect that this is the sort of discussion that is going on right now in the White House, especially as it pertains to domestic matters and, God forbid, perhaps concerning foreign policy as well.  


I am delighted to note that it's impossible to imagine this kind of nonsense in the United States.

Derrida's legacy

They have all imbibed the Derridean idea that "textual" violence is worse than the real thing because the former entails an invidious ideology by which a greater power mythologizes itself as normal, while the latter may well be, when coming from the hands of a "marked" or oppressed person, a revelatory act.

Make no mistake, such clowns will positively apologize or support all kinds of violence in the name of supporting the counter-narrative of the oppressed.


I was considering declaring myself to be an intellectual. After all, it requires no qualifications to do so and public recognition seems to follow from such declarations. But after watching the video, I have changed my mind.

13 (unlucky for some?)

Meanwhile, in some parallel universe...


Sixth speaker (historian Anne-Claude Ambroise Rendu): ... Minor crimes are a sign of a healthy ...

(At which point a  "depressed" 13-year-old Algerian runs on stage and plunges a knife into Ms Rendu's left hooter)

Aaaaaaaaaaaahhh ... Meeeeerde !!!! She cries.


Seventh speaker (writer Antoine Bello): Er, yes, anyway, as I was about to say, we're lucky in Europe. There is not a lot of vi...

Aaaaaaaahhhhh! Bugger! ...


[Cut to Halal French tv commercial]


The French intelligentsia has been occupying the place for at least three decades, it always indulges portraying themselves as victims of an oppressive system, but they actually ARE the system.
These auto-proclaimed intellectuals would stick with their corrupted ideas till the very end, they would be able to deny violence even if someone was murdered just before their very eyes, or if they dared acknowledge it, they would mitigate their statement by justifying the deeds of the murderer, blaming them on an unlucky childhood, an irresistible need to kill in order to express himself, and thus demand that the murderer should be forgiven and duly rehabilitated, otherwise the society would be branded oppressive and fascistic. These people are consummate liars.

Citizen X

This exchange reminds me of Citizen X, the HBO production based upon Robert Cullen's The Killer Department, in turn based upon the pursuit of Soviet serial murderer Andrei Chikatilo.  It poignantly depicts the struggle of a lone detective against bureaucracy and ideology, as the Soviet authorities refused to admit either the existence of serial murderers in the Soviet state (being as they were, a "decadent Western phenomenon") or that Rostov-on-Don required assistance from Moscow, which it did.  Factuality aside, viewers are left as frustrated as the detective when the mayor, CPSU chair and KGB general blame homosexuals and "gangs" as bodies of children and women pile up.  Even when the detective apprehends the killer, he is released due to botched DNA testing and due to his CPSU membership.


The French intelligentsia still believe that they are fighting "the establishment", when in fact they have occupied its place. 


@ Tiberge: the word you confused for 'confession' actually is 'contrition', otherwise, the translation is spotless!

I was literally sickened by the video, the whole show revolves around a handful of so-called intellectuals who are more keen on masturbating than really mull over the issue of violence. I have seldom listened to more amazing a display of crap; intellectuals condoning violence, probably owing to the fact our prisons are packed with Muslim offenders and criminals (accounting for 75% of inmates), and seeing as it is taboo to criticise, let alone expose, immigration in France... This is one of the numerous reasons why I, for one, reckon France is beyond salvation. The fact such a show exists is best explained by a demand from the French public which is met by subsequent shows. It made me retch, as a Frenchman, to hearken to such an incomparable display of inane, far-fetched untruths, and see these 'intellectuals' disguise their stupidity with 'psychological' or 'sociological' theories. These people obviously live in some gated community to be so oblivious to the sufferings of entire working classes who are made a minority in their own country, not least on the outskirts of our big cities, are routinely assaulted by "youths" and then denied any existence as victims (the 'intellectuals' even posit the idea that aggressors are victims because they cannot stifle their impulses). If my living for 19 years in France has taught me anything, it is that most Frenchmen are hopeless.

Some things and some people just don't add up

"The only violence I see is in our dear President ...
It's completely disproportionate to focus on one person..."

Well, as I believe I once almost said on numerous occasions there are only two kinds of people in this world and they are the sane, the insane, and the innumerate.