We were once in Montpellier whilst a demonstration was going on in support of José Bové. To jog your memory, if you don’t live in France, José Bové is an anti-globalisation activist with an Asterix type moustache, best known for dismantling a half-built McDo, as they’re known here and throwing Roquefort cheese at the CRS (riot police). A small group of about 150 people came through the pedestrianised shopping area, arriving at the Place de la Comédie, and after a bit of shouting and banner waving dispersed. All the while, they were closely scrutinised by 37 truck loads of CRS. Egalité and fraternité were also in relatively short supply.
When I say dispersed, in fact a lot of them; perhaps a good 30% stuck together. They did this by going en masse into the McDonalds, which is on the corner. We looked on in smug astonishment.
Until yesterday, when I very nearly did the same sort of thing. I had a mail from Avaaz.org asking me to sign an online petition in support of Edward Snowden. Evidently a just cause, I signed. I was then asked to relay the information to friends using Facebook and Twitter. What the hell, I clicked another button and got a message which said: ‘I just signed a campaign to help this amazing guy who gave up everything to protect all of us from government spies. I think you'll like it. Check it out’. A bit gushing, but OK, it’s all in a good cause. I was also required to tick a box for each of my Facebook contacts.I continued and a small window appeared which said:’ Aavaz org would like to manage your messages’. It was then that I came to my senses. After all, wasn’t it Facebook (amongst others), who were allegedly sending the information to the Pentagon?
I find it incredible that people can’t see that their liberties are being eroded at an ever increasing rate. There was an article in Liberation this week which touched on this and which taught me a new word of French: ‘Liberticide’. As the English language has already stolen 25,000 words from French, it would seem a good idea to take this one too. We’re going to need it for the forseeable future.