Lawsuits of the Filthy Rich: Defamation a la francais

In the February 25, 2013 New Yorker, Lauren Collins wrote a trenchant, funny article about France’s Gérard Depardieu affair, i.e., Depardieu, a famous actor, has decided to take up Belgian citizenship because the current French government has raised taxes on the rich.

And he is rich. And France is so pissed.

The article is entitled, “L’Étranger,” (the stranger).

Here’s an excerpt about a lawsuit filed over the tax controversy:

The left-leaning newspaper Libération…has owned the story since early last fall, when it ran a now famous front page featuring Bernard Arnault, the C.E.O. of the fashion conglomerate L.V.M.H. Arnault, France’s richest man, had recently applied for Belgian nationality. The headline read, “Casse-Toi, Riche Con!” (roughly, “Get Lost, Rich Asshole!”), a play on a gaffe by Sarkozy, who once dismissed a heckler at an agricultural fair by saying, “Casse-toi, pauvre con.” (Arnault is suing Libération for “extreme vulgarity and violence.” He has said that he will continue to reside in France and pay taxes there.)

Libération reported that Arnault had been quietly transferring billions of euros’ worth of assets to a series of Belgian holding companies. The editorial read, “A priori nothing illegal: just the banal ingenuity of the masters of globalization, who ignore the borders and seem to forget the country that made them kings.” (Arnault has said that his goal is to protect the company in case of his death.)

Wonderful, isn’t it? Especially “extreme vulgarity and violence” as a legal cause of action,  possibly a sub-definition of defamation in France. (We don’t have this cause of action here in the U.S.A. I don’t think so, anyway.)

High praise to that beautifully expressed (and translated) Libération editorial. “…just the banal ingenuity of the masters of globalization…”

By the way, according to this article, the French blame us for capitalism. This, the same culture that worships Jerry Lewis as a artistic genius.

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