France Insider/Paul Ben-Itzak

January 23, 2009

The Revolution will not be Radio-ized

So there they were on the antennae of the state-owned France Culture radio tonight, a politician from the Opposition Left and a politician from the Majority Right debating a law proposed by the government of the Right that would limit the time of parliamentary debate on the other laws the government proposed. I was just thinking how surreal this was — how out of touch they both seemed with the daily concerns of the general populace in this time of high unemployment and low purchase power and overall insecurity, when suddenly a young man seized the mike at the live remote broadcast from the Centre Pompidou and started to talk about a real issue: The detention of a ‘sans-papier’ at one of the infamous centres de retention. Of course neither the representative of the Right who believes that 250,000 amendments per parliamentary session is a bit much, nor the representative of the Left protesting the nerve of the representative of the Right to try to limit his party to 250,000 amendments were going to defend the right of the young man to speak for one minute, let alone the hosts of the program who had decided to give over 45 minutes of primetime to this very insider debate, so the member of the public had just enough time to say “I’m going to read a little tract” before his mike was cut off and the hosts on location sent it back to the studio where an automated voice apologized for the perturbation, calm space music started playing, and a studio presenter promised that we’d soon rejoin the crew at the Pompidou for the live broadcast. “We await the return to calm.” When it eventually did, the host on location complained that these little interruptions have been taking place more or less every Friday, when the show is broadcast live from this national modern art museum, and it was commencing to ‘ennerve’ him. It’s one thing to debate in front of the public about debating rules among their political representatives; quite another to debate *with them.*

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