Sunday, December 12, 2004

"French/American Community" Seeks Class Action Lawsuit Against Restaurant

I caught wind of this over at LGF and followed the links to the story. In brief, this group of lawyers appears to be representing someone who claims to be the "french/american community" and is seeking additional participants for the case. Obviously, if they get more people sign up, they have a better chance of getting a judge to allow a class-action suit. (And that means more money for the lawyers in question.) The pertinent information listed on the page linked above, in its entirety, is:

::::::::As a result of a recent series of racist television commercials by Carl's Junior, the French/American community, with the support of the French Consulate, is in the process of organizing a class action lawsuit.

The French/American community is deeply saddened and dismayed by the fact that a United States corporation has chosen to denigrate, humiliate, insult and injure the reputation of French/Americans in order to sell it's product, which is essentially, a sandwich.

The French "bashing" (in the commercials, a voiceover refers to the French as chickens and cowards) is based on historical events and unfairly depicts people of French origin in a truly unsavory manner. The actions of Carl's Junior in these commercials are blatantly racist and a violation of the intent of the United States Constitution's First Amendment regarding the use of Free Speech.

The French/American community, which consists primarily of American citizens and French citizens legally living in the United States, believes that Carl's Junior is trying to unfairly exploit the French government's nonsupport of Coalition forces, spearheaded by the Unites States government, in the recent, and ongoing, Iraq conflict. The French/American community consists of many patriotic American citizens, and non-citizens, who supported, and continue to support, President Bush's actions in Iraq.

Law-abiding and proud French/American community, are seeking to hold Carl's Junior accountable for the malicious, and injurious, action that serves as the foundation for it's discriminatory commercials.

If you feel you qualify for damages or remedies that might be awarded in this class action please fill out the form below.
::::::::

Just so you're also well informed, here's a link to Miquelon.org that contains a reference to this lawsuit and also the text of the Carl's Junior commercial. That commercial reads:

::::::::* At the Waterloo, the French surrendered.
* In the Franco-Prussian War, the French surrendered.
* In World War 2, well, the French surrendered.
* Don't be a big chicken. Eat one
::::::::

OK, all caught up? The reason they want class-action status is simple: proving that a specific individual has been harmed by this commercial is so unlikely as to be functionally impossible. They need to broaden the scope to include a nebulous "segment of the population" so they don't have to actually prove anyone was harmed here. And the specific issue they're talking about? The speech in the commercial is racist.

Beg pardon? Racist? Since when has "french" been a race? "French" is a nationality, not a race. You can have members of a number of races all sharing the same nationality. It's completely valid and unremarkable to have an asian who's french, a black who's english, and a white who's Canadian. I can change all those race/nationality pairings around any way I like and they'd still be valid. Racism deals with something a person has no control over and cannot change. Being french is neither of those things.

The implication of the commercial is quite clear, of course. Also quite clear is the undisputed fact that all of the first three statements are factually true. While the 4th is an implication that's a wide generalization, it's also an opinion and those are quite protected by the Constitution. The only blatant quality about them is that they're uncomfortable to some group of people claiming french descent or allegiance. That's not good enough for the government to censor them.