ISSN : 2266-6060

Freedom of speech

Issy-Les-Moulineaux, march 2018.

A metal plate framed and supported by feet riveted to the ground, the whole overhung by an inscription. That’s it. The smooth, vertical surface is offered for sight. An urban furniture being part of the environment, it is a site for diverse writings, with the enunciative content subjected to no restrictions. Optimists find the initiative to be significant. Focused on the existence of this panel, they make its very presence a constitutive and crucial part of the public space. On their side, skeptics are not convinced of the effectiveness of this technology, too cold for their taste. They are willing to think of ways to improve it: thinking about a more attractive location, organizing weekly discussions around the panel, etc. Pessimists, for their part, stress the absence of any form of inscription, which they regard as a glaring sign of the current crisis of democracy. As usual, the most critic ones do not beat around the bush: whether it is empty or full of writing, the panel is nothing more than a pale substitute for freedom of expression, an ideological simulacrum which existence must be fought in the name of “true public voice”. Facing the panel, libertarians give a casual smile. Not having waited for it, they have invested other writing sites (walls, banners, websites…) to express their ideas in various arenas for a long time. The most poetic ones consider that the mere presence of the panel offers a landscape in itself that deserves full contemplation. Materialists are amazed by the blindness of all the others: how can they not see the obviousness? Rust as a form of expression of beings who, on this panel as elsewhere, leave traces of their passage and thus demonstrate their active participation in the socio-political composition of the world.

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