Liberté, Égalité, Tyrannie: French Judge Orders Critic To Change Title of Negative Restaurant Review To Reduce Prominence on Google

libertyFor years, we have lamented the wholesale attack on free speech in France from ever-expanding hate speech ruling to stripping away anonymity on the Internet to censorship of expression to criminalizing historical claims (though the last move was later reversed). The erosion of such protection has never been so evident as with the ruling against blogger Caroline Doudet. A French judge has issued an emergency ruling forcing that one of the titles of a blog restaurant critique be changed to reduce its prominence on Google and for Doudet to pay damages. It is an absurd ruling and frightening in its implications for free speech. France appears to have dived headlong into speech regulation and censorship.

Ms Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blog post entitled “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”.

According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant.

One would have expected that even in France a judge would have tossed the case out and said that nothing protects a restaurant from bad reviews or opinions. Indeed, it is not clear if the judge is finding that Doudet’s personal opinion is somehow wrong. In a perfectly bizarre opinion, she ordered the removal of the phrase: “the place to avoid” to make it less prominent in Google searches.

Doudet objected that it creates a new crime to be highly ranked on search engines.

One would think that a judge sitting in Bordeaux, France would have more sensitivity for an effort to critics to identify slipping standards in French cuisine. Yet the judge seemed peeved that Ms Doudet’s fashion and literature blog “Cultur’elle” had around 3,000 followers and could hurt the restaurant by expressing her opinion.

Three things are made clear from this opinion:

First, as noted in other columns, France needs to have a debate over the loss of free speech values in the very cradle of the rights of man.

Second, this judge needs to be removed from the bench.

Third, no one should eat at Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region. The fact that the restaurant would take a critic to court for expressing her opinion confirms anything that you want to know about Il Giardino restaurant. So to state the obvious again:

“the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”

Source: BBC

19 thoughts on “Liberté, Égalité, Tyrannie: French Judge Orders Critic To Change Title of Negative Restaurant Review To Reduce Prominence on Google

  1. At least she didn’t use the word “Redskins”. As shown yesterday, censorship in the ol’ USA is alive and well.

  2. The judge JT speaks of seems out of touch.

    A different view of the French:

    France prides itself on being a country where nothing is respected more than ideas. “Intellectual” is actually a compliment here, and any issue in the media will be commented on by one of an endless supply of French people who give their job description as “philosopher”. They seem to be even more common than plumbers, though of much less practical use, unless your plumbing is just going through a period of self-doubt.

    (Telegraph).

  3. If that is the sort of transgressions judges make in France then compared to the US, France is truly better off. In the US the judge would have issued a no-knock warrant and people would have died.

  4. Free speech France? In the US, think before you speak. The $5 million dollar bet.

    The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth, are people with something to hide.

  5. I am truly surprised at this judge since she rules in favor of a restaurant which has its title in ITALIAN, not French! I thought the French language police would have caught up with this miscreant before the reviewer.

  6. The restaurant is being hammered on the France Google+ review site. So far 203 reviews resulting in a 1.3 star average. Nearly all are from people voting 1 star and citing the lawsuit.

    I went through the first ten pages of a Google search of this restaurant and all but two were citing the lawsuit or negative opinions.

  7. wordpress acting up again?
    I posted, didn’t show, posted again WP said duplicate post, but I still don’t see it on here.
    Wussup??

  8. [start joke] Jim22, and Samantha, when the “truth” is finally disclosed, as the Obummer clip above suggests it should, we will discover the REAL problem behind why the restaurant got such a bad review was that they served Redskin Potatoes to the reviewer. It is often the unstated which is the source of people’s complaints. [end joke] Or, more likely, the judge was getting paid off by the restaurant and the verdict was a way to obscure this fact from suspicion.

  9. REDSKIN potatoes are RAAAAACIST! There are hundreds of varieties of potatoes. REDSKIN potatoes must be eliminated from the potato gene pool even though they are superb in making potato salad. PC is much more important than quality.

  10. [music- to the tune of When You’re A Jet, You’re A Jet]

    When you’re a Frog you’re a Frog
    You’re a Frog all the way.
    From your first glass of wine to your last dying day!

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