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as our betters deem appropriate

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Oct 24, 2007

I wonder to what extent the press services that provide news photos are willing to vouch for the accuracy of the text that accompanies their offerings.

The photo above, found at the BBC website via Agence France-Presse, is captioned thus:

A homeless woman sits on a footpath in Paris as part of ongoing protest action against poor conditions in public housing organised by Right to Housing (DAL).

Homeless, is she? For starters, a protester's homelessness would be a fact difficult to verify, even for a journalist seriously concerned to do so. But the condition of the woman pictured seems curiously hale for a street-dweller. We can glimpse some jewelry, some suspiciously unsoiled cardboard, and what to my untrained eye appears to be a remarkably clean tablecloth, here employed as a wrap. If she's really homeless, moreover, it's hard to understand why she's protesting "poor conditions in public housing" -- housing of any sort being generally preferable to none at all.

As often, the media show us what they have decided we need to see -- in this case, popular unrest directed at the Sarkozy government -- and should the requisite object lesson be lacking in actual fact, they're willing to rig it up for us. Maybe the woman pictured is a student member of a Leftist group taking her turn posing as a waif during the "protest action"; maybe she's part of a consciousness raising exercise aimed at imitating the conditions of the poor. If nothing else, this sort of chicanery serves as a useful reminder of what it's like to be spoon-fed our public morality by the mainstream media, and underscores the advantages of having alternative sources at our disposal.

(My compliments, mademoiselle, to your laundress.)

image via Agence France-Presse

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  • Posted by: - Oct. 27, 2007 3:27 PM ET USA

    Madame, Do you recommend a Bordeaux or a Chablis to go with that fine tablecloth?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 24, 2007 8:24 PM ET USA

    Your untrained eye does you proud, Di. That is indeed an immaculate and very pressed tablecloth. But what are you saying? That the homeless cannot be exquisite homemakers, that they don't take pride in their table linens and the care thereof? Nothing missing here but the gleaming candelabra. Bet she takes that out when she eats the leftover garbage she found in the dumpster. As to her identity, I'd wager she has no idea why that photo was taken.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 24, 2007 2:16 PM ET USA

    Maybe enforcing immigration laws would reduce the severity of the problem and even solve other problems relating to the influx of people from other nations. The USA could also benefit from similar regulation.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 24, 2007 1:54 PM ET USA

    But,as the great American sage, P.T. Barnum, noted there are long lines of suckers, many if not most with one or sundry degrees, who long to devour every minute of these popular delusions as it makes them feel morally superior to those others who have to work for a living. I am sure that somewhere in France a homily is now being penned for a Sunday mass based on the apparent pathos of this photo. I can hear his choking voice deliver it now though I speak barely a word in French.

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