Survivors of Paris Attack Sue Media For Revealing Their Hiding Place In Live Coverage

"A Revolutionary Committee during the Terror." An engraving of 1798 with a negative portrayal of policing functions during the Terror carried out by radicalized sans-culottes in Paris.There is an interesting lawsuit in France by six survivors of the January attack by Islamic extremist Amedy Coulibaly at the Hyper Casher Jewish supermarket in Paris. The six people were mortified after learning that French media broadcasted their hiding location in a refrigerator while Coulibaly was looking for hostages and threatening to kill them all.


As a matter of journalistic ethics (and common sense) it was outrageous when media like the French 24-hour news channel BFMTV broadcast the location of the six people, including a three-year-old child and a one-month-old baby. I cannot imagine the level of callous and moronic judgment needed to broadcast such a fact when the gunman could have been listening.

However, there remains the question of whether there is a viable claim when in fact that six were not discovered. This lawsuit is the result of French laws allowing charges for endangering the lives of others by deliberately ignoring security protocols. It carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and 15,000-euro ($16,300) fine.

I cannot speak to the French law but in the United States, the plaintiffs would face serious challenges. First, they were not made aware of the betrayal of their location until after the event — undermining claims of emotional distress. Moreover, the emotional injuries from the encounter were due to the actions of a murderous fanatic, not the media.

In the end, I would be highly uncomfortable with a ruling against the media even though I find the actions of these journalists to reprehensible and thoughtless. Indeed, I would support the firing of those responsible for these broadcasts. Yet, the notion of liability for reporting public facts is a dangerous rollback on press freedom, particularly in France which has led Europe in attacks on both free speech and free press.

129 thoughts on “Survivors of Paris Attack Sue Media For Revealing Their Hiding Place In Live Coverage”

  1. Prairie Rose

    Curriculum is only one issue. That is a fact. However, in most if not all of the better performing public school systems of our peer nations, a well developed curriculum free from the micro input of local school systems seems to produce a more rounded and current approach to what kids need to be learning. This takes out of the equation, issues of whether or not to teach the Bible or evolution in certain areas. This also reduces the costs in the administrative end which allows more funding and focus in the teaching end.

    Teacher training is another issue. When I lived in Canada and went to school at the University of Victoria, in the spring dozens of US school districts set up prospecting events trying to hire teachers trained at UVic. I heard of this happening in many universities across Canada. It was a commonly reported event in the newspapers. Whether or not that is still going on, I don’t know first hand, however it was a common occurrence for many years. US schools have to start to produce better teachers.

    I studied teacher training before I went into teaching and was impressed with programs in Finland and Japan. In Japan the centralized systems develops the curriculum from the departments in the government but demands that the teachers craft these curriculums while they teach. A grade school math teacher is responsible for preparing the lesson plans for the next year during the ending of the year. The teacher must take into consideration how effective the government laid down curriculum was and make adjustments. Then the teacher must present examples of the lesson plans to the other math teachers of the same grade, using the students in a prototype lesson. Then those teachers give their input. Then the teacher must present again the now enhanced lesson plans to the entire math department, accepting and using their input. Then the teacher must present the adjusted lesson plans to the parents and school boards. This represents a period of two weeks or so when the information of how effective the curriculums have been is available to the most important element, the teacher. In the US it is the other way around. In the end it is the top heavy administration that instructs the teachers how to teach.

    The Japanese system works better because it not only places the responsibility with the teachers but empowers them with their first hand experience.

    There are many other factors but from my experience both directly and indirectly, when the teacher is well trained, paid well, and given the responsibility and empowerment to perform they produce better results.

    And, of course in each of these other systems there are elements that are problematic but typically those are due to the specific societies, ie. in China and India an education is the way out of a place in society far more destitute than in the US or other Western countries.

    Look up the statistics and read some articles. Then ask yourself why this is not happening here.

  2. Bam bam

    It’s generally wise to check where one aims before shooting. I do find this blog very principled. But that does not mean I agree with all of those principles, the tactics to achieve them or others, or other things about content and analysis one here.

    On point: if media can be punished for something that could’ve happened, then why not stiffer penalties (or penalties at all) for prosecutors magistrates and other personnel for botched (or well orchestrated) prosecutions that cause innocent persons to languish in prison and solitary confinement for years? The ladder actually happen(s) but it’s exceedingly rare for any accountability or deterrent to be present.

  3. Issac,
    I don’t think the dysfunction is in the curriculum. That is fixing the wrong thing.

    Your data only shows what’s on the surface. What is causing the poor performance?

    Health affects academic ability. French kids are healthier as a whole than American kids. In the US, 1 in 6 kids are obese (1 in 3 are overweight or obese), while in France, 1 in 10 kids are obese. Also, we don’t eat as much nutrient-dense foods in the US–we eat sugar and processed foods.

    We also have more divorce and more single-parent households than French families. We also have more child poverty than France (see the UNICEF report).

    These issues (poverty, family status, and health) affect academic performance. Rather than “fixing” the curriculum, let’s fix the underlying issues affecting academic performance.

    Making the curriculum all the same will not change kids’ life circumstances.

    Also, “[PISA] is not supposed to favor particular education systems, but to analyze how well students in different countries can demonstrate what they have learned. This year, French and American students were dubbed solidly mediocre.” http://frenchmorning.com/en/2013/12/11/france-vs-us-education-mediocrity/

    I looked at the data, and France is only slightly above the US in math, science, and reading. What do the health and life circumstances do to our scores?

  4. Prairie Rose

    The statistics are available, over whelming in the support of my statement and given the fact that the US ranks way up at the top of the bottom third amongst its peer nations, I don’t need to say anymore. Do the research. The French public education system is vastly superior to the American. The stats prove this. Regardless of whether your kid studies in a private school in Paris or a public school in Provence, the curriculum is the same. The difference is in the quality of teachers and who your kid goes to school with. The point is, it works better than the dysfunction in the US system regardless of ideology.

  5. issac,
    “I am a strong advocate of a common curriculum developed by the country as a whole and administered by the State or Province. This seems to provide the best results, along with better: paid, trained, and empowered teachers.”

    How so? This is an assertion without data. Also, too often, it seems, when everyone is to be taught the same way, at the same time, the results lead to the lowest common denominator.

    Empowered teachers are the result of freedom to control their curriculum (to a degree).

    I’m also cynical about any curriculum actually being developed “by the country as a whole” considering the degree of corporatism going on in this country. You should have jumped in on the Pearson/standardized test discussion with Elaine a few weeks ago. ūüôā

  6. rcocean

    Your ‘absolute’ label to what you write can only come from your selection of sources, neither you nor I were there. My selection of sources, many, all point to an adequate in numbers and machines of the French air force that was poorly deployed, poorly integrated with the army, and poorly seen by the military leaders.

    The French fighters were equal to and in some cases superior to those of the Germans. The ME109s numbered about 400 of the 2,500 German planes. The French did not employ enough of their air force in the theatre. They did have, however, American Curtis fighters which although inferior to the ME109 in some respects, shot down a significant number of German planes. The French, if they had not been pushed on two fronts and fell into disarray so quickly had a superior capacity of resupply from their own factories as well as those in the US. With the realization that the battle field which included airfields within reach of the enemy was in chaos, the British moved most of their remaining planes to Britain. The rapidity of the attack here again was the deciding factor or tactics. The germans had one other crucial advantage. Their pilots had, for the most part, practiced their craft in Spain and Poland. Their craft consisted of air support for rapid advancement, again tactics, not equipment.

    The RAF lost over 900 aircraft but of the 450+ Hurricanes, the main fighter, lost only 75 were lost in combat against 367 Luftwaffe fighters, mostly ME109s of a total 1,389 aircraft of all types, most probably not destroyed on the ground as were most of the RAF planes.

    According to Peter Cornwell’s “The battle of France then and now”: between Sep 1939 to May 9 1940 Luftwaffe lost 354 aircraft and 445 air crews killed or missing in the west, and between May 10 to Jun 24 Jun 1940, Luftwaffe lost 1814 aircraft and 3278 air crews killed or missing in the west

    After the Battle for France, Albert Kesselring, who would soon be promoted to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall, reflected that the Luftwaffe’s effectiveness had been reduced to almost 30 % of what it had been before the invasion of France.

    It is also accepted that the French shot down more than 900 German planes. Regardless of the superiority of the German or the French fighter planes, the RAF and the French had more than enough potential to stop the German air force. The French high command, however, kept their fighters positioned in four zones. These zones were largely autonomous and were not coordinated. Again, tactics were the decisive factor in winning the battle for France. When it became apparent that with the lightning advance by the Germans threatened the remaining French fighters, the best of them were transferred away from the battle, some to North Africa and some to the other zones. French fighters were obligated to ‘ferry’ their planes from the source to the battle. There were many other strategic shortcomings of the French military regarding the air force. However, the potential was there had it been recognized. Against the Italians the French enjoyed a turkey shoot with many pilots downing a dozen or more Italian fighters.

    Most of the French air force in the zone that had to fight the German invasion was destroyed on the ground. It is unlikely that many Luftwaffe aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The British and the French fighters held their own in the air, in spite of the slim advantages of the ME 109.

    Regarding tanks, the consensus of opinion is that in armor and armament the French tanks were superior but used improperly. They were spread thin over larger areas while the faster German tanks although more lightly armored and armed were concentrated in spear like thrust through the allied armies. Most of the French tanks were lost to Stukas, mines, and anti tank guns when they attempted to attack the flanks of the German advance. Tank to tank, the French heavy tanks outclassed the German tanks.

    Again, the allied forces were fighting an obsolete war against the Germans who were fighting the war of the future. There were several opportunities for the French to stop the Germans and stretched out as they were, with inferior resupply potential, the German forces would have been thrown into chaos and armies being moved to the front from the Maginot line would have made the decisive difference. The combination of German coordination and speed against French dysfunction is the main reason, not so much the weapons.

  7. The majority of French tanks were the H35/H39/R35 – these tanks had 2 man crews! They weighed about 12 tons and had average top speed of about 17 mph. They were designed as infantry support and were completely useless in tank combat. They were also sitting ducks for the German anti-tank guns since they could go no faster than 6-8 mph cross country.

  8. I should have said 250 miles to Paris. This mileage is important because in WW2, offensives tended to peter out at the 250-300 mile range due to logistics. This 250-300 mile logistical limit occurred often on the Eastern Front and also when the US Army broke out of Normandy in August 1944 and advanced to the German border.

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