the french trial, an update

The trial in the defamation case brought by the French Federation of Steiner Waldorf schools against Grégoire Perra and Unadfi took place on friday last week (I wrote a post then) — the outcome will be known in may. Grégoire is summing up* the court experience with great hilarity on his blog. You should read it. (*Not available, read it here instead.)

I’d like to say something about a document I have had the opportunity to look at, and which Grégoire mentions in his blog post as well. It was written by the Federation and sent to people within the Steiner movement. From this document, it is clear that the Federation’s intention was never to contradict the actual claims made by Grégoire — claims which they describe as ‘harsh, well written and a blend between true and false’ — but it was to make his text go away entirely. The less distribution it got, the better. The less people read it, the better. They were not, they say, going to make any arguments against Grégoire’s points. These events preceded the letter sent by them to Unadfi, reproduced here (and responded to by Unadfi), which contains a threat of legal action. When the response was not the desired one, the Federation chose to make real of the threat.

That’s an example of what to me looks like the frivolousness of this lawsuit. Basically, they wanted the text to disappear; that was all. It wasn’t about the claims made in it — or the truth of them — it was about it simply being better (for them) if this criticism was retracted and not available for people to read anymore. True or false wasn’t the point, fair criticism or unfair criticism wasn’t the point either; good or bad PR was the point. They were just going to attempt to stop what they didn’t like. Even if they knew better. Even if, clearly, they — like everyone else — must accept that people disagree and have a right to write about it.

So back to the document from the Federation. It surprisingly confirms that ‘Grégoire Perra raises important questions, he is not the first to do so …’. Well then. Perhaps better learn to live with it, than to try to suppress the questions.

Now head over and read Grégoire’s summary. (He has made updates to it, so if you read it earlier, there might be more now.)

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Update: I didn’t double-check before I published, and it turns out that unfortunately Grégoire has removed his post. This due to potential trouble. I’m sure you can imagine. This is the big problem with these lawsuits — they do stifle free speech and free debate. And, of course, that is one of the aims, not to say the main one.

Update, april 10: You’ll find Grégoire’s summary of the day in court here!