The Phileas Club 135 – The Franco-German couple

On this episode we talk about:

  • The French and German post war political will
  • Constant stream of bullshit is getting tiring in Germany
  • Islamic veil debate in France, generalized extremes and normalized
  • And more!

Remember you can support the show at

More info on the show:

You can also download the MP3, or subscribe via iTunes or RSS.


  1. Matthias Keller says:

    So after just trying to remember the court decision I mentioned on the show off the top of my head I went and looked the whole thing up again for details (and the ruling was almost 2 months ago, how time flies…)

    >>>Warning: Strong language ahead<<<

    Renate Künast, a prominent member of the Green party here in Germany, was indeed trying to get Facebook to release the identities of several people who posted insults directed at her on the platform in order to take them to court. It bears mentioning that this woman is used to a lot of strong language and hate thrown her way, so she is not someone who has a thin skin. These were some of the "comments" that she got on Facebook (with rough translations):
    She was called "geisteskrank" (mentally ill, as in someone who should be taken to a mental institution), "Dreckschwein" (filthy pig), "Stück Scheiße" (piece of shit), "Drecksfotze" (dirty/filthy cunt) and someone commented "Knatter sie doch mal einer so richtig durch, bis sie wieder normal wird!" (Someone fuck her until she turns normal again). Out of all of these insults, the only one that came close to being litigable, according to this court, is the "dirty cunt" but even this was ruled as acceptable (but just barely). As I mentioned, some of these might not seem so bad in translation but they are pretty rough if used in the German language.

    So I guess everyone can decide for themselves if these comments are ok and if a person needs to just endure such comments, even if they are a politician. For me the answer is "no", especially since this behavior is not limited to politicians but something that especially women face online everyday. But I would agree with the general idea that public figures like politicians have to accept a different standard than ordinary people, as it is the case with things like being depicted in caricature or having their picture taken or being filmed for example.

    But something struck me when I think back to this part of our conversation: We (unintentionally) fell into the same trap I was talking about when I said we are not discussing the real issues anymore. Pretty quickly we were no longer talking about the underlying issue, the rough tone and the (oftentimes) hate filled climate that is fueled by actors like Trump and the far-right and in extreme cases can lead to terrorist attacks like the ones in Halle or Christchurch. Instead we were discussing the symptoms and were debating whether "cunt" is really a harsh insult or not. So in a sense we kind of proofed the point I was trying to make I guess. 😉

    • Thanks for this extensive explanation! I think we can all agree that this kind of language and toxicity should not exist, but we fall back to the proposed solution: if we start legislating insults, even bad ones, then it opens the door to something even worse…

      • No worries, socialists will get their way.
        The E. U. will soon enough turn into a fully fledge (inter)national socialist empire.
        History will repeat because people don’t want to know who pull the strings.

        Can Patrick even ever begin to scratch the surface? Not.


      • Matthias Keller says:

        I know that there are different “philosophies” when it comes to freedom of speech and I just wanted to point out, that while you can still say almost anything there are legal limits over here as opposed to how this is handled in other countries like for example the US. In the spirit of the show giving different perspectives from different countries. 😉

        Also just to be clear: I didn’t choose this example because it was about a member of the green party but simply because it was a recent court decision that made the news. There are enough examples from across the political spectrum and also some where the courts ruled that the statements in question were perfectly acceptable (even though the plaintiff thought otherwise). So it’s not like you can run around and sue everyone as you please. It might also be worth mentioning that there are usually no real financial benefits in these court cases (like huge damage payments) so it is more an attempt to stop people from insulting you further and threaten fines if they do it again.

    • Herr Keller is making a point on the far-“right”, leaving out the far-“left”.
      One may take a trip to communist China (P. R. C.) and “visit” the concentration camps where millions of people are imprisoned until they die. Where all sorts of tortures happen, and where organs are “harvested”.

      Now, is it a problem if the historically pro-paedophile “Green” parties in Germany or France have their staff insulted?
      It’s really the problem of the one that insults, isn’t it?

      Is this broadcast going to discuss at length each and every insult uttered against “leftists”. What about the “rightists” then?!
      Is “left” better than “right” in the theater that is political spectrum?

      In the end, do you REALLY see any difference between Hitler and Stalin???
      They accomplished what they were tasked for.

      It is sad that you people of this broadcast fall into the trap of the fake political discussion. You are re-hashing what is seen in the media when what is required to help the herd wake up is to explain the techniques of control the administrations, governments, think-tanks, religious organisations, charities, and tax-free foundations are applying to lead all the world’s societies toward the designed goal.


      • Akku, I don’t know if you are actively trying to troll or if you just aren’t used to the way we do things here. This isn’t Reddit, please be more considerate in the way you comment on the episode.

        The point I will make in spite of your inflammatory remarks is that I indeed believe there are very little differences between Hitler and Stalin, if that is where you want to go. But comparing European social democracies to the PRC is at best ill informed, and at worse an active attempt at obscuring reality: the “socialist” part of social democracies are a redistribution of wealth into education, healthcare and other basic necessities, which many people agree sorely lack in countries like the US. But those EU countries still obviously have a free market based economy and all the freedoms afforded by democracy (which is painful to have to remind people who seem to misunderstand the whole concept).
        Also, while the extreme far right and far left are comparable, this plays into the argument for today’s political trends, not against it: the point is that right is getting a lot closer to that far end of the spectrum. And that is exactly where the danger lies, because, again as you said, those extremes should be a concern for everyone. Communism essentially died in the EU (and almost the entire world) with the fall of the eastern block, and it isn’t really a significant concern anymore, no matter what some american politicians will claim. So just bandying “both extremes are bad” to try to exculpate one side doesn’t mean much, since the other is nowhere near that extreme.

        That’s my reasoned response; if you choose to reply again I thank you in advance for doing so in a respectful manner.

  2. Patrick,

    The conversation around the burka issue was a bit confusing for me. For background, I grew up in southwest Michigan so I may not be familiar with how people growing up in France may have historically been affected. I also don’t follow any of the mainstream religions. Having said that, what is it about that style of dress that is so unsettling? If women are stating that they are making that choice for themselves shouldn’t they be allowed to wear what they want? I’d love to have a conversation about this to understand your perspective better.


    • Hey Jim, I’m not sure if you know this, but the Burka is the piece of clothing that covers a woman entirely, including a kind of grill in front of the face. It is very different from the Hijab, which is just a head scarf covering the hair. The Burka is seen as overly oppressive, and in this case, for some at least, one woman’s willingness to wear them matters less than the systemic issue it creates (through pressure and retribution) for others. The fact that it is, by design, a tool of oppression rather than a simple religious symbol, makes the conversation very different…

      • Bill Burd says:

        Patrick, it sounds like your tolerance of the hijab comes from exposure via the media, not via real life.

        Not that it matters. But it illustrates why religious conservatives (at least in the US, where I live) are so devoted to removing positive media images of members of groups of whom they disapprove. That is primarily those in the LGBTQ community, but also more exotic personages. The movement attracted snickers and some derision when it initiated a campaign against Netflix over the excellent TV series Good Omens earlier this year.

        The series included a sympathetic demon (c’mon, he was played by David Tennant!). Netflix quickly agreed not to produce any further episodes of the program, which was easy for them, because it was produced by Amazon. Hence the snickers and derision.

        It occurred to me that there is a philosophical underpinning to the issue of the wearing of religious apparel and symbols, based in questions about what a society can demand of its members, and what it cannot. And also about what individuals have a right to expect from their society, and what they should not.

        In the US, questions of separation of religion and government are seldom far beneath the surface. In fact, it’s a truism that God, Guns and Gays have been a reliable talking point for conservative politicians and candidates for decades. But not necessarily a convincing one: the US population has become far more gay-friendly, far more quickly, than anyone imagined ten or twenty years ago. This is almost certainly due in part to more sympathetic media portrayals. Sorry for the digression.

        The kipah, the skullcap worn by some Jewish males, came up in your conversation. I would argue that the kipah is only a small step away from small icons of the sort of small icon worn on a necklace by people of many religions. Nobody seriously objects to such icons.

        I would argue that the hijab is on its way to membership in that club. It’s hard to think of a rational objection to the hijab. It’s fundamentally similar in purpose to the wigs worn by some orthodox Jewish women in order to hide their hair from view by the public. If you didn’t know about that one, it might be because good wigs can be hard to detect.

        On the other hand, there’s the burqa. You see them worn in public sometimes in large US cities. They completely hide the wearer’s face.

        My point of view, and I can’t deny my own parochialism here, is that full, or even partial face coverings are not acceptable in public in US society. We’re an open place, and we rely on facial expressions in our interactions with others. Covering your face is what you do, at least in movies, before robbing a bank. Having faces exposed is a reasonable societal norm here, regardless of what other societies choose. Do we have a right to expect it? I really don’t know.

        We’ve had court cases in recent years that affirmed the right of business owners and employees to deny service to LGBTQ people if based on “sincerely held religious belief.” This offends me deeply, because I have always considered freedom of religion to be a shield against interference, not a sword against members of minority groups. But this is what happens in the US when you get enough conservative judges.

      • Thanks for the lengthy comment Bill. You might have a point about media exposure, but as I mentioned in the show when talking about non-binary people, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Normalising via culture is as valid a way as any. That being said, that is still a way to open up your thinking, not to make the decisions for you; I do believe that even if we started seeing Burqas on every screen it wouldn’t automatically convince me that they are entirely acceptable… So there is a range of that influence there.

      • Patrick, Having spent a fair amount of time in the greater Detroit area (One of the highest populations of the Muslim faith in the world) I am quite familiar with what a burka is. I did a little digging to make sure that I was correct in a few things before replying. There is no requirement found in the Quran. There are references to dressing modestly and covering the body but nothing directly stating that they cover the face in specific. I do understand your stance against the oppression of women. This is not a black and white issue though. How does one clearly determine whether someone is wearing a garment out of oppression or choice? I am solidly anti ban on this topic because removing the power of choice to me is a greater wrong. I would much rather engage in conversations and try to address individuals that take away someone else’s choice. This likely stems from my firm support of the United States first amendment rights.

      • Well, if holy texts were all interpreted the “right” way, things would be a lot easier… 🙂 The issue with the Burqa is that it seems to be part of a very strict and oppressive interpretation, which is implemented in the most extreme parts of the muslim world. That is the context and the worry about the idea of it, and I’m not sure it is entirely unwarranted…

Speak Your Mind