Black Marianne: A freedom too far for France?

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the groundswell of affirmation for freedom of expression in France, you might have thought that all was well in the land of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity. At least as far as what the state is prepared to allow in the name of artistic expression.

Not so in the small town of Fremainville, in Northern France, whose mayor has removed the statue of a black Marianne from outside the town hall. Here is the statue in question.

260115-marianne-noire-620Beautiful, isn’t she? Marianne is a national symbol of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty. You will be shocked to learn that most Mariannes are white.

And it appears the mayor, Marcel Allègre, wants to keep it that way. He claims that a black Marianne is a “Marianne of liberty, but not a Marianne of the French Republic. She undoubtedly represented something, but not the French Republic.”

So, absolute freedom of expression where the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are concerned, but you can’t allow a black Marianne to represent the French Republic? The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

If the French are serious about freedom of expression, then I suggest the government overrules this stupid, racist mayor, and puts the statue back in place. Furthermore, I suggest they commission more Mariannes, representing all the ethnic minorities.

Including a few Muslim Mariannes, complete with headscarf.

American Student in Cunning Stunt

Deep joy to read that the younger generation is still capable of big dreams. I refer of course to the American student who attempted full-body penetration of a giant vagina in the German university town of Tubingen. Possibly he’s a Star Trek fan with the motto, To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before, engraved on his heart. Jim Kirk would certainly be proud.

The Guardian has a full account here. Unfortunately, the lad became trapped, and had to be rescued by 22 firefighters “by hand and without the application of tools”. Quite right too. Anything else would be unsuitable for a family blog.

gal03-pi-chacan

The vagina in question: Chacán-Pi (Making Love), by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara

While you have to applaud our hero for his ambitions, clearly he didn’t know what he was getting into.

Lest you should think this post is merely an opportunity for gratuitous smut and innuendo, I was struck by a comment made by Tubingen’s Green mayor, Boris Palmer:

He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

It demonstrates a command of wit and irony to which most politicians in this right, tight little island cannot even aspire. It seems you get a better class of mayor in Germany. This excellent English-language interview with Palmer is well worth a listen.

And let’s spare a thought for the student, who probably wishes the internet had never been invented. There, but for the grace of the gods…