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Pork soup becomes political in France
January 25, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Pork soup becomes political in France. Small groups linked to the extreme right are ladling pork soup to France's homeless. Critics and some officials denounce the charity as discriminatory: because it contains pork, the soup is off-limits for Muslims.
posted by rxrfrx (105 comments total)

 
And Jews and vegetarians and...

I say: Let them, and let another group who now doesn't have as many to feed serve kosher and halal.
posted by mendel at 9:03 AM on January 25, 2006


Wow. Thanks for the link. These guys have really thought of the perfect way to put the government in the most uncomfortable position possible.
posted by loquax at 9:05 AM on January 25, 2006


Rejecting pork is discriminating, providing pork isn't.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:06 AM on January 25, 2006


It is when you do it intentionally to piss off discriminating eaters.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:08 AM on January 25, 2006


Muslims can't eat non-Halal meat, right? So if this was non-Halal beef stew, wouldn't there be the same problem?
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:10 AM on January 25, 2006


Being kosher/halal/buddhist vegetarian/any other religous dietary restriction doesn't make you pious, it makes you gullible and petty.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:12 AM on January 25, 2006


Pies make you pious.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2006


Protocols of the Elders of Awesome : "Rejecting pork is discriminating, providing pork isn't."

Discriminating against who, the pigs? Actually, I am quite sure pigs prefer people who reject pork.
posted by nkyad at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2006


I just meant discriminating between foods.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2006


So if this was non-Halal beef stew, wouldn't there be the same problem?

From my muslim friends, I get the sense that eating pork is a greater transgression. It's certainly the case for Judaism -- if not officially, then certainly in practice. I know lots of Jews who'll eat non-Kosher beef but wouldn't touch pork. But it's also worth noting that in many streams of Judaism (I wouldn't be surprised if this is also true for Islam), being in danger overrides lesser ethical concerns. In other words, if you're starving and there's nothing else available, you can eat pork.
posted by ori at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2006


Groups linked to the far right are running soup kitchens.
Far right / soup kitchens.
This is a good thing. It's charity from the least charitable.

Unless they're doing this in areas with a predominantly Muslim homeless problem, and unless they're refusing to allow other carities to offer similar services, and unless they tie the meal to playinga part in any ulterior motive, then why is this bad?
Really.

They're feeding the destitute, who give not a shit about whether their one meal of the day comes from a propagandist or not. It may be meant as a slight and a taunt, but it will probably only be felt by those not unaffected by the action.
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2006


"not unaffected", jebus, what a time for a double negative.
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2006


Rejecting pork is discriminating, providing pork isn't.


Right, but it's not like these guys are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts because they had some pork lying around.
posted by maxreax at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2006


Wow, mean-spirited charity! The mind boggles.
posted by LarryC at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2006


Let them eat cake.

Also, anyone else a little unnerved by the following wording:

"It's not that we don't like Muslims. It's a problem of critical mass," Robert said in a telephone interview. "Just 1,000 Muslims in France poses no problem, but 6 million poses a big problem."
posted by gigawhat? at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2006


If a group of people is under no obligation at all to provide any service, but they decide to do so, they do not have the right to choose who to offer their service too?

Is it exclusionary? Sure. But just like the group could choose to feed only Muslims or non-Muslims or poor people or thin people, they aren't under any obligation to service everyone.

If the group chose to only serve thin people, would there be an outrage? If the group chose to only serve homeless Muslims, would there be an outrage? If the group chose to only serve homeless people, would there be an outrage?

Associational rights subsume the right to not associate.

It isn't like this is a governmental policy. It's just some partisan nutjobs doing what partisan nutjobs do.
posted by dios at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2006


According to this, police have actually shut down some of the soup kitchens because of these issues. Because offending some people's religious sensibilities is far worse than letting a bunch of people go hungry, apparently.
posted by Gator at 9:27 AM on January 25, 2006


will they shut down all christian soup kitchens like the salvation army ones too then?
posted by dabitch at 9:29 AM on January 25, 2006


It's just some partisan nutjobs doing what partisan nutjobs do.

Exactly. They're just being cockfaces while pretending to be good-natured and charitable. I thought it was a notable article because of the interesting race/immigration situation in France.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:30 AM on January 25, 2006


An interesting counterpoint to this is Ollie's Barbeque and how that is distinguishable.
posted by dios at 9:30 AM on January 25, 2006


will they shut down all christian soup kitchens like the salvation army ones too then?

They don't discriminate or turn people away (at least not in my area).
posted by loquax at 9:32 AM on January 25, 2006


Let them serve pork. There's plenty of poor, and plenty who need to be fed. However, this is a prime reason we should not allow religious charity to overtake the safety net of the state.
posted by Saydur at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2006


So most of you have no problems with a far-right, racist group serving out what they call "Identity Soup" precisely and deliberately to inflame racial and ethnic tension?

You don't see any issue with a soup kitchen that says, in effect, "Jews and Muslims, not welcome here"?

Wow, this place (MetaFilter) gets kreepier every day.

And...

"Keith Talent" wrote:
Being kosher/halal/buddhist vegetarian/any other religous dietary restriction doesn't make you pious, it makes you gullible and petty.

I find this personally offensive. You, sir, are a bigot. I think you should apologize.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:35 AM on January 25, 2006


but 6 million poses a big problem

Godwin!
posted by matteo at 9:35 AM on January 25, 2006


So beggars CAN be choosers? Interesting.

Actually, I can see how and why this would be offensive and, if its intentional, then someone needs to get fired and publicly humiliated. But if it is what's available (i.e. there isn't anything else to serve) then perhaps they should just make a pork-free pork soup?
posted by fenriq at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2006


Remember when Tommy Ross took Carrie to the prom?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2006


In Ollie's BBQ, wasn't the decision that segregation in public establishment negatively affected interstate commerce, and therefore was an area of government concern which made the application of the Civil Rights Act legal? Are you saying that France could make a similar argument here (legal specifics aside)?

You don't see any issue with a soup kitchen that says, in effect, "Jews and Muslims, not welcome here"?

I have a huge problem with their intent, but on what grounds can it be stopped? Should it be stopped in any case, as it's still providing a service? Can you imagine the outrage if the government were to shut down soup kitchens because they didn't adhere to halal rules? In Canada, employment legislation usually mandates that there be no discrimination on the basis of race, sex or religion, except for special service organizations like cultural groups, churches and so on. Which basically means no Jews or Muslims allowed to work in a church or various Christian organizations. Should that be allowed?

if its intentional, then someone needs to get fired

This isn't a government program, these are private groups with ties to the right that know exactly what they're doing, and are instigating problems. Nobody's getting fired for accomplishing their goals.
posted by loquax at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2006


Christ on a stick. Have any of you snarkers actually RTFA? "Identity Soup"? There's nothing charitable about any of this- it's just inflammatory.

Way to stand up for a group of assholes, assholes.
posted by mkultra at 9:43 AM on January 25, 2006


Saydur nails it.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:43 AM on January 25, 2006


with ties to the right

I should have said "with ties to the anti-immigrant, relatively extreme right".

Are people really standing up for these guys in this thread? I don't see that.
posted by loquax at 9:47 AM on January 25, 2006


In Ollie's BBQ, wasn't the decision that segregation in public establishment negatively affected interstate commerce, and therefore was an area of government concern which made the application of the Civil Rights Act legal? Are you saying that France could make a similar argument here (legal specifics aside)?

Yes, loquax. You are correct. I think it is an interesting counterpoint because I am not sure the analysis would be same in a charitable situation and I don't know anything at all about French law (other than cursory inquiries into Louisiana's Napoleonic Code-based law which I don't even know if that is similar to France's). I

on preview: mkultra: I think it is crappy of them to do that, but what are you going to do? How do you stop them? Why don't they have a right to do what they are doing? Partisans are crazy assholes, but how do we forbid them from doing something like this even though they are crazy assholes?
posted by dios at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2006


Even I think this is Not a Great Idea. It isn't that they have nothing else to serve, they are doing this to stick it to a particular group. Having said that, don't shut them down, as someone is getting fed out of it-but some other group really needs to step up to the plate and provide something others can eat.
posted by konolia at 9:49 AM on January 25, 2006


As far as the "Identity Soup" thing, it could be interpreted as just another aspect of fierce French nationalism -- a lot of these articles point out that pork soup is a big traditional "thing" in French rural culture. I've heard a lot of snippets over the years about how the French try to protect their culture against anglicization, especially in the French language.

Sure, these people's motives are probably not genuinely rooted in such altruism, but they're feeding the hungry and they're not actually turning anyone away, right? Did I miss something where they're actually saying that certain people aren't welcome to eat their pork soup?
posted by Gator at 9:51 AM on January 25, 2006


The associations offering the soup are satellites of Bloc Identitaire, a small, extreme-right movement that defends the European identity and, as its leader Fabrice Robert said, "the rights of the little whites."

"It's not that we don't like Muslims. It's a problem of critical mass," Robert said in a telephone interview. "Just 1,000 Muslims in France poses no problem, but 6 million poses a big problem."
Jesus tap-dancing Christ.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:56 AM on January 25, 2006


They're only hurting their own souls. Let their blood pressure simmer.

At least they're "good" enough to advertise that there's pork in the soup.
posted by leapingsheep at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2006


Gator, what you say is technically true, but it requires that you assume these people are somehow good-natured. If some pig farmer wanted to make soup and feed it to the hungry, nobody (well, nobody who we care about) would object. By serving pork "identity soup," the people in the article are saying "you aren't welcome to eat this soup." Isn't that obvious?
posted by rxrfrx at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2006


It is intentional, and that is the source of the debate.

It's not any charity handing out pork soup because they had a lot of pork or it was cheaper than other soups and just didn't think of the potential implications for those who can't eat pork.

It's far right groups with a specific agenda. I thought that much was clear from the article, no?

And yeah, "they aren't under any obligation to service everyone", but neither are people under any obligation to just shrug their shoulders and refrain from criticism or outrage or whatnot. Freedom of opinion works both ways, remember?

And now cue the deflective hypotehticals:

If the group chose to only serve homeless Muslims, would there be an outrage?

Is there an actual example of that? Or are you thinking of religious charities?

If the group chose to only serve homeless people, would there be an outrage?

What an apt comparison! Not. Nevermind that they are serving homeless people anyway - they sure aren't handling the soups to bank employees during lunch break are they?
posted by funambulist at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2006


Did I miss something where they're actually saying that certain people aren't welcome to eat their pork soup?

Yes, Gator, you did:

The associations offering the soup are satellites of Bloc Identitaire, a small, extreme-right movement that defends the European identity and, as its leader Fabrice Robert said, "the rights of the little whites."

"It's not that we don't like Muslims. It's a problem of critical mass," Robert said in a telephone interview. "Just 1,000 Muslims in France poses no problem, but 6 million poses a big problem."

posted by funambulist at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2006


A lot of christian-run shelters and soup kitchens in the US require the homeless/hungry to listen to bible readings, etc. before they get fed. Hell, christians have been doing crap like this all over the world for years.
posted by shoepal at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2006


rxrfrx, like I said, their motives are probably not as pure as they pretend. What I'm suggesting is that they're still doing good because they are feeding the hungry, even though they're going about it in a way that many people find offensive.

It's all very well to complain about people doing good deeds for the wrong reasons, or doing good deeds with ulterior motives (I have a vague recollection, from my pre-Internet days, of people actually bitching about Apartheid in South Africa being dismantled because of political pressure and international sanctions, as opposed to it being dismantled because everybody finally realized it was a Bad Thing).

But these people, even if they're assholes, are providing food for the indigent.

I do agree with konolia that more people should step up to the plate and provide alternate food as well, though. I DO NOT think the cops should be shutting these soup kitchens down because SOME of the indigent find the food offensive.

On preview, funambulist, that's a really shitty thing to say, but it's not the same as saying "Muslims not welcome to eat our pork soup." It's more equivalent to saying, "Muslims, you're gonna have to make a choice! Eat our pork soup or go somewhere else!" Which is shitty, but...it's food, yo.
posted by Gator at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2006


Dios -
Why do you insist on calling them partisans? Surely that term is a little loose?
posted by Sk4n at 10:10 AM on January 25, 2006


This reminds me of Christian missionaries not giving food to the people they were trying to "save" unless they'd been to their church and taken part in their ceremonies.

Its pretty despicable to use food to coerce "followers".

Real charity does not come with strings attached.
posted by fenriq at 10:10 AM on January 25, 2006


Why do you insist on calling them partisans? Surely that term is a little loose?

Really? I think it's perfect.
Partisan: A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:20 AM on January 25, 2006


Y'all do realize we're talking about a country where massive riots and damage just occurred because of unequal treatment of poor Muslims? There is plenty of context and subtext surrounding choices like this, and there will likely be plenty of problems resulting from choices like these. As the article points out, Strausbourg feared public disturbances enough to outlaw the practice.
posted by occhiblu at 10:27 AM on January 25, 2006


On preview, funambulist, that's a really shitty thing to say, but it's not the same as saying "Muslims not welcome to eat our pork soup." It's more equivalent to saying, "Muslims, you're gonna have to make a choice! Eat our pork soup or go somewhere else!" Which is shitty, but...it's food, yo.

Gator, I honestly cannot see the slightest difference between the two claims.

Say France wanted to ban kosher meat, what's the difference between saying "Jews not welcome here" or "Jews, you'll have to make a choice between kosher meat and living here!"... (not comparing a government ban to this initiative, obviously --- just comparing the rhetoric).

And as for the charity aspect that they're still feeding hungry people anyway - yeah sure, but they're not a charity organisation, they're a political group, and the initiative is overtly political. So it's rather hard to disregard that part. And it does seem to have implications at legal and public order level, according to the article:

The groups dishing up the soup say their victuals are no more than traditional French cuisine and deny they are serving up a message of racial hatred - a crime in France - or that they would refuse soup to a hungry Muslim or Jew.

In Strasbourg, pork soup was banned this month after officials deemed it could disrupt public order.


(NB I'm not saying they should all be banned, I can't have a precise opinion on that as this is the first time I hear of it and I don't live in France, but you know, just pointing out that clearly the issue is a lot heavier at political and legal level than just an innocent case of unwilling discrimination as a result of good intentions to feed the poor).
posted by funambulist at 10:28 AM on January 25, 2006


And isn't it funny, that they're saying they would not " refuse soup to a hungry Muslim or Jew".

Sort of reminds me of those who say "but we're not against gay marriage, we don't want to ban gay marriage, gays can still get married - to a person of the opposite sex!"...
posted by funambulist at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2006


What a bunch of redneck asswipes. Deliberately choosing pork soup because it would eliminate a section of the population that needs food assistance.

This is why we can't have nice things: assholes who can't be nice.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 AM on January 25, 2006


The solution for all would be to visit Dr. O'Blivion's Cathode Ray Mission.
Brian O'Blivion’s Cathode Ray Mission grants the misfits of society a chance to recover back into "the real world" by pumping TV-transmissions into their eyes. By the tv-soap operas and talkshows they gain some of the social competence they lack in the cold, unsocial industrial world of ours. "Watching TV will help patch them back into the world's mixing board."... And Religion is not a factor.
posted by Gungho at 10:42 AM on January 25, 2006


I agree: Saydur got it right.

One reason the terrorist group Hamas is expected to do particularly well in today's Palestinian elections is their charity work with similarly (and apparently successful) political motivations.
posted by extrabox at 10:46 AM on January 25, 2006


Ok. Two options:

1. This group of people don't feed anyone.

2. This group feeds homeless and poor people pork soup, which might offend Muslims.

Assuming there is no other option, which do we prefer? Now, I think these people are pricks, and I don't know enough to weigh the calculus about how much actual harm is being done by their actions. But my bet is not much. So as much as I don't care for these groups, at least they are doing something. And as one poster noted, why aren't the offended people out there feeding those who refuse to eat the pork soup instead of trying to stop this group from serving pork soup. Because it is pretty clear that these groups of partisan jerks aren't going to do the big thing and serve everyone something just to be more inclusive.
posted by dios at 10:47 AM on January 25, 2006


Unemployment among Muslims in France is at close to 40% (vs. 10%) for the rest of the country. Muslims *are* the homeless and the poor.
posted by occhiblu at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2006


(had some parenthesis placement problems there... sorry.)
posted by occhiblu at 10:57 AM on January 25, 2006


I honestly cannot see the slightest difference between the two claims.

But it's there. It is slight, and it doesn't appear to be fooling anybody when you get right down to it, but it's there -- it's slight enough to be set apart from outright (illegal) discrimination. To put it in American terms, it's the difference between putting a "Whites Only" sign in the window, or just having an asshole behind the counter saying, "You sure you want to shop here, boy?"

I'm not saying it's not shitty -- of course it is, if you're doing an end-run around the law to make a certain group of people uncomfortable -- but what about the people who were counting on that pork soup as their sustenance?

To set up a wildly hyperbolic alternative scenario, if Vatican City got razed (oh, just won't there be a bunch of "if only" responses to that) and a group of Satanists moved a soup kitchen into town and people had to pass under a pentagram and an upside-down cross in order to get the soup, I'd still say that providing that food to the hungry would be better than nobody providing food at all.

Or, what dios said. Sadly, I realize that agreeing with dios will put me on "the wrong side" in many people's minds here on MeFi, but seriously, what's better -- no soup kitchen, or a soup kitchen run by assholes?
posted by Gator at 10:58 AM on January 25, 2006


Actually I don't think Muslims in France make up a large homeless (poor, yes, homless, not so much) population, at least not according to a program I saw on TV5 a little while ago. The biggest problem for poor immigrants in France is living 6 to a one-bedroom, not being homeless.

I disagree with the flavor of Dios' secondary posts, which try to say that it's a choice between feeding the poor and not feeding them.

For me, the choice is much simpler-- do you allow the right of people to do what they want, even if it pisses people off? I say, of course, as long as it's not official gov't policy.
posted by cell divide at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2006


I'm offended, because I haven't been offered any of their delicious tasty pork. mmmmmmmm.... pork!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2006


no soup kitchen, or a soup kitchen run by assholes?

But those aren't the only options. Thinking about this, I believe what the government (or other charities, or churches, or mosques) needs to do is put them out of business as fast as possible by beating them at their own game and offering more and better soup wherever they do. Moral choices matter. If the Nazi party in France was offering soup, regardless of any conditions, would you support them goosestepping around, flying banners and handing out literature if it meant that free soup was distributed? I wouldn't, and in that case, I'd prefer no soup (or alternative sources of soup) to Nazi soup. (Insert unintentional Seinfeld jokes here). Think about their goals - presumably they want to marginalize or even deport the muslim population of France - should they be allowed to win propaganda victories?

It the same principle that makes me believe that the US should refuse subsidized oil from Chavez in MA, and replace it with another subsidization program, if appropriate.
posted by loquax at 11:07 AM on January 25, 2006


do you allow the right of people to do what they want, even if it pisses people off?

Except that, with regard to many religious issues, in France the legal answer is often "no."
posted by occhiblu at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2006


I believe what the government (or other charities, or churches, or mosques) needs to do is put them out of business as fast as possible by beating them at their own game and offering more and better soup wherever they do.

Word. Seriously, that would be ideal.

But some people, downtrodden as they are, would rather eat than think about The Issues.
posted by Gator at 11:13 AM on January 25, 2006


Being kosher/halal/buddhist vegetarian/any other religous dietary restriction doesn't make you pious, it makes you gullible and petty.

Oh bullshit. The people serving only pork soup, when there are probably cheaper and equally nutricious soup stocks available, are the petty assholes. "Dietary restrictions," as you say, may have a basis in morals or ethics and not nutrition alone. Would you like some dog soup? What about some soylent green?
posted by mikeh at 11:16 AM on January 25, 2006


How do you put a charity "out of business"? That makes no sense. They'd stop serving if there was no one to serve, which would happen only if everyone had jobs and food.
posted by occhiblu at 11:16 AM on January 25, 2006


As a Muslim, I can say that I don't think the govt should intervene with their right to dole out solely pork products, as long as the govt does not provide them any support or money (or protection when they get firebombed--j/k). Equally, I don't believe the French govt should ban govt-school-going students from wearing 'religiously ostentatious' garb. However, given that the French govt has banned the latter, it would be somewhat consistent to prevent the right-wing groups from acting in such a deliberately non-French-secular manner. The foregoing aside, I believe it would be legitimate for the French govt to reconsider the let-them-eat-pork groups' tax-exempt or charitable status, because they do seem to be crossing the line from a charity, to a political and partisan group.

I do think that to some extent societies need to shepherd behavior through social pressure and by watching the consequences of certain actions (in the event that the legislature, judiciary or executive are unwilling or unqualified to intervene). It is possible that if let-them-eat-pork programs became widespread in France, they could become the impetus for social unrest, but at a minimum will alienate certain people, which will come to bite the society in its derriere at a later stage. At such a stage (if not at this stage), then, a branch of the French govt might step up and outlaw or restrict such practice.

One other thought: doesn't providing pork-only food discriminate against vegetarians too? What about those who are vegetarian for religious reasons, i.e. Hindus? Should each soup kitchen be required to provide a minimum of a vegetarian and a vegan option, since those two options alone would likely be palatable to every individual based on religious belief and dietary restriction?
posted by Azaadistani at 11:21 AM on January 25, 2006


Would you like some dog soup?


Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?
posted by found missing at 11:24 AM on January 25, 2006


That'll do pig, That'll do.
posted by Gungho at 11:38 AM on January 25, 2006


Gator, both in your reaction to this pork soup thing and in your wildly hypothetical scenario you're taking for granted not just that it would be something that you'd have no inarguably valid reasons to object to (because after all it'd be giving help to the needy), you're also taking for granted that it would be perfectly legal. It's not clear that it is so. Notice again how the article points out the far right group is very aware of racial hatred laws and making efforts not to be incriminated under them. That's the slyness of the pork soup idea. Trying to get around laws.

Hypotheticals aside, I'm pretty sure no charities in Europe are setting requirements for the receivers of their charity services, other than, you know, basically qualifying as in need of help (ie. I'm pretty sure Oxfam would refuse to hand out free clothes to Paris Hilton, should she feel the desire to ask them -- how's that for wild hypotheticals).

And by the way, I barely notice which comments are attached to which usernames, and forget the day after anyway, so I can assure you I don't care if it's dios or Bob Geldof making an argument, it's the argument I have a problem with.

but what about the people who were counting on that pork soup as their sustenance?

You're setting up a false dichotomy here -- surely this is not the only charity in France, in fact, it's not even a charity...

But again, I cannot have a position on what should be done about it. I just think when reading the story you have to understand why it's an issue, and the political and legal context which makes it even more of an issue, as well as the intent and agenda of the initiative. You can't just apply your own theoretical reasoning.
posted by funambulist at 11:38 AM on January 25, 2006


I believe it would be legitimate for the French govt to reconsider the let-them-eat-pork groups' tax-exempt or charitable status, because they do seem to be crossing the line from a charity, to a political and partisan group.

Exactly, that much at least should be done. Let them pay taxes and fund their own political rallying.
posted by funambulist at 11:46 AM on January 25, 2006


There's a true test of faith - your belly or your beliefs.
posted by davelog at 11:52 AM on January 25, 2006


They most likely are being discriminatory: the cooks refer to it as identity soup and the group behind it is a right wing group to protect the European identity. It's a juvenile act and I find it morally repulsive but I don't see how a ban on the practice could be done without restricting liberties. If the government subsidizes the charity then the subsidies should be withdrawn but I don't see what else can be done by the government. On an individual level the retaliation would be to fund soup kitchens that don't have an agenda.

There are no guarantees that your particular dietary restrictions will be met, but at least don't go out of your way to make sure to violate those of a specific group.
posted by substrate at 11:54 AM on January 25, 2006


I don't see how a ban on the practice could be done without restricting liberties

Because France has different laws.
posted by occhiblu at 12:05 PM on January 25, 2006


(Honestly not trolling)

Alright, the major point is that these people are designing this thing to ostracize a religious/ethnic subset, and that's evil (at least to most people I'd imagine). And I'd at least hope they aren't funded by any taxpayer money.

But why do acts of religious expression enjoy so much more protection / outrage than any other kinds of personal expression? I agree with the post earlier, I don't know about gullible, but there IS something petty to me about deciding you aren't going to eat ____. I don't see why the state should pay any more attention to a person who says "My religion won't allow me to eat pork", than a person who says "I really just don't like pork". I don't mind that people want to be petty. And I'm petty about some things too, I don't eat nuts if I can avoid it.

(And I'm not trying to defend these people, petty is a good sight better than evil, and that is what these guys are doing in attempting to single out a group like this. I realize that there will probably never been a push to disenfranchise people who just don't care for pork.)

I just wish that other forms of free expression enjoyed the same stalwart and watchful gaze that religious expression always gets. That a person should get time off from work for religious holidays, but maybe not to join in protest marches, or maybe not because they just decided they wanted the day off doesn't make sense to me. It isn't fair treatment. If the place where I work can tell me not to wear certain cloths or say certain things while I'm on duty, I don't see why they can't tell me that they don't want me to perform any religious expressions on their property, or that they don't care to alter their lunch menu to include people who won't eat ____ because of religious preference.

Seriously, not trolling, can somebody the logic, (not the complex social contract and state of history, I know that), behind this?
posted by SomeOneElse at 12:10 PM on January 25, 2006


You don't see any issue with a soup kitchen that says, in effect, "Jews and Muslims, not welcome here"

Except that it doesnt say that in truth or in effect. They will serve to anyone. Not all Muslims and Jews are dietary observant.

They're being jerks, yes. They're being inflammatory, yes. They aren't being hateful or discriminatory. IMHO.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:12 PM on January 25, 2006


How do you put a charity "out of business"? That makes no sense. They'd stop serving if there was no one to serve, which would happen only if everyone had jobs and food.

But I don't think anyone is saying that these guys are the only group handing out free food, or that they're single-handedly solving the homeless hunger problem. I'm saying that there are alternatives for obtaining food for those in need that do not discriminate, and those services should be pushed to the forefront to blunt their message and reduce any sympathy they may be getting on the basis of their "charity".

This is obviously a token stunt. Do we even know how many people they're feeding? How often are they out there? The article referenced a few cities, but gave no idea as to the scope of their activities. Seeing as this is propaganda, pure and simple, and hardly a cohesive and coordinated relief effort, fight fire with fire. Don't shut them up, put up an alternative soup stand everywhere they have one, with big signs that say "all welcome" and "the guys next door are jerks", or whatever. Ludicrous, yes, but I don't think shutting them down is the answer, and nor is letting them flaunt their attitude without checks.
posted by loquax at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2006


This just in: Free sandwiches fed to homeless, Atkins' dieters outraged!
posted by iamck at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2006


The Jewish commandment to live (and not starve to death) outweighs any of the commandments related to keeping kosher. If you're Jewish and really really really hungry, and there is only pork, you are commanded to eat it. You should not lick your fingers, however.

By the way, in Judaism it is more of a problem to eat the non-kosher parts of a cow (e.g. the back portions like the rump or shank) than pork (i.e. there are more instances of their being prohibited). An even greater prohibition is against eating insects ("sheretz"), so checking the lettuce or cilantro is key.
posted by Adamchik at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2006


Well, I'm going to start my own food kitchen that serves only stolen communion wafers dipped in the blood of murdered gentile babies. It's an old family recipe.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on January 25, 2006


SomeOneElse: discrimination laws applying to the work enviromnent don't have much to do with this story.

A charity is another thing from a company, especially if it receives special treatment and maybe even funding from the gov't.

That a person should get time off from work for religious holidays, but maybe not to join in protest marches

Well because the latter is about individual choices of how to spend your time. The former is about established official practices of a group that an individual may or may not even follow. It doesn't even have to be about religion. Say you work for companies in different countries and some have extra non-religious holidays on days that are not a holiday where you live. It's not just fairness, it's a practicality to respect those differences, when possible and not too much of a hassle.

Actually, that can work the same even when it's individual preferences. Say a school canteen serves only meat-based dishes, when they get a single vegetarian kid, they'll likely want to make an effort to accomodate him or her, since it won't take a huge effort anyway; if they get ten, twenty, forty vegetarian kids they'll be forced to accomodate them. You don't need to question why the kids are vegetarians in the first place, or how valid a choice it is, when it's not such a big deal to accomodate their preferences. Same for habits/traditions/official or religious holidays/religious dietary restrictions.

Point is, when you go out of your way to refuse to accomodate that, and make it a political point of advertising that fact that you do have a target, then it's clear you have a different intent than providing food.
posted by funambulist at 12:43 PM on January 25, 2006


These folks are obviously grade A assholes, but I don't see any reasonable way to stop it. Jews and Muslims are welcome to partake of their soup, so they are not (in a technical sense) discriminating against them.
The only way this is any diferent from making the claim that Peter Luger's Steakhouse is discriminating against Buddhists/Hindus is the matter of intent.
Start legislating that and you are on your way to prosecuting thought-crimes.
Would you make it a crime to believe that it is more worthwhile to offer charity to one class of victim over another? Then what about all those charities/programs that 'discriminate' against the rich?
posted by bashos_frog at 12:48 PM on January 25, 2006




NO SOUP FOR YOU
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2006


No soup for Jews?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:07 PM on January 25, 2006


Dammit, that would've been funnier.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:19 PM on January 25, 2006


Then what about all those charities/programs that 'discriminate' against the rich?

Oh all right then: Paris Hilton is welcome to collect the bag of old crap I was about to drop off at Oxfam. I know she posts here, so

I hope she'll take this chance to prevent the anti-rich discrimination I was about to commit.

There, that should make all you principled libertarians happy! ;)
posted by funambulist at 1:19 PM on January 25, 2006


"In Strasbourg, pork soup was banned this month after officials deemed it could disrupt public order."

When pork soup is outlawed...only outlaws will eat pork soup.

...and when they came for the pork soup I said nothing because I don't like pork soup.

They banned a flavor of soup???!!! Now that's fucking ridiculous. The ban seems a backhanded swipe at Muslims that could be translated as:
"We have to ban pork soup so the darkies don't riot and torch hundreds of cars because they can't control themselves."

People say the U.S. is fucked up but I really can't see any governmental body here even attempting to ban a soup.
posted by MikeMc at 1:33 PM on January 25, 2006


Because France has different laws.

Indeed. And a different society. And a different culture. And a different political situation. That seems to be one thing many keep ignoring...
posted by funambulist at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2006


Seems strange to me that it matters to some people WHY they're doing what they're doing.

I mean, they're being vile, yes, but to make it illegal? On the grounds that it's mean? It's not like anyone's rights are being violated.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2006


fenriq writes "This reminds me of Christian missionaries not giving food to the people they were trying to 'save' unless they'd been to their church and taken part in their ceremonies."

The salvation army still does this, I've sat through many a sermon waiting to be served soup and a bun.

My take: yes these guys are inciteful assholes. But as others have said how do you police any ban like this in a fair way without talking about prosecuting thought crimes? Let's say the Dali Lama decides next week that Buddists can't eat glutten. Does that mean all charity food services now have to stop handing out sandwiches unless they are made on potato bread? Stop thickening gravy with flour? etc. etc. Or is it only the soup kitchens of the "Buddists go Home Alliance" that are restricted?
posted by Mitheral at 2:47 PM on January 25, 2006


MikeMc writes "I really can't see any governmental body here even attempting to ban a soup."

Why not? Who would have thought a 100 years ago they would ban all sorts of plants, flowers, and fungi? The idea of an illegal mushroom is more mind blowing than the actual mushroom itself.
posted by Mitheral at 2:56 PM on January 25, 2006


FRANCE HAS ANTI-HATE LAWS. Using language to incite racial hatred IS ILLEGAL IN FRANCE.

Why is everyone trying to interpret this based on US laws?
posted by occhiblu at 3:08 PM on January 25, 2006


On the grounds that it's mean?
Great now you made me wonder, if being offered hogs ears cooked in a pressure cooker and horse meat sold in stores was grounds for teh French being mean to me...
I did notice pork is a common meat used at meal times. Good grief Charlie Brown to the naysayers.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:12 PM on January 25, 2006


Look, any charity food service I know of doesn't make any effort whatsoever to cater to all possible existing dietary differences. People in need take what's available.

But they don't make any effort to deliberately exclude any group either. (Doesn't matter what some religious charities supposedly do in the US, we're not talking about the US here...).

If you make that effort, to deliberately exclude one precise group that incidentally, surprise suprise, is the group vocally and overtly targeted by your far right political organisation, with said targeting being part of electoral political campaigns that despite all denials go all the way up to Le Pen's National Front, and your "charity" initiative being not really a charity born with that intent but only an offshoot of said political organisation, in which food distribution is an excuse to distribute your incendiary message, well, gosh, is it so hard to understand the difference here?

It is a stunt. The antiracist groups' calls for it to be banned have to do with laws about incitement to hatred. It sounds like they're unlikely to be enforced here, but clearly some among those outraged see their relevance to the case.

They may be completely wrong, and maybe those laws are completely wrong too, but that's the context this thing is happening in.

Or maybe there's a rule that says the French are always fascists, even when they're against the fascists. I don't know.
posted by funambulist at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2006


and what occhiblu said, again...
posted by funambulist at 3:15 PM on January 25, 2006


What occiblu said. There are anti-hate laws in France. It is more than possible for this to be interpreted as hate-based action. Ergo, the government has every right to shut them down.
posted by dame at 3:20 PM on January 25, 2006


European neo-fascist rightists are all about symbolism. They know exactly what "hate speech" is about - and there are strictly enforced laws against hate speech. This is a game of cat and mouse using those parameters to dance around the idea of "hate deed." It isn't about feeding the homeless. It is about getting there message across to their "base of support" and getting in the papers.

This isn't about whether homeless Jews are going to eat pork. France has one of Europe's largest and best organized Jewish communities. If you are a homeless Yid (A yid on a von plotz... bin ikh eykh a yid ...) who wants to eat kosher food for free it isn't difficult at all. Try Chabad or any shul.

France had some nasty riots involving French Muslim youth. This is a response to them, or at least, a mesage to the Sarkozy supporters who are leaning towards Le Pen's nasty - but easily digestable - nationalism.
posted by zaelic at 4:09 PM on January 25, 2006


I wonder if the charities that feed the hungry could influence their donors if they did not proselytize. Surely going along with the process is not too much to ask, whether one has any intention of converting or not. Think of it as paying...

Now the French discriminators, well, can you think of any other group that does not welcome noobs who change everything?
posted by Cranberry at 4:57 PM on January 25, 2006


The French are just pissed that the USA is the largest producer of cheese. via quiz at my pub tonight.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:19 PM on January 25, 2006


They'd best be careful.
posted by fleacircus at 5:31 PM on January 25, 2006


These people are not charitable, they are just a bunch of hate mongers. They might as well have Nazi marches. I wonder if they are Catholic? If so, they might want to read what the Pope just said about charity and politics.
posted by caddis at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2006


The only way this is any diferent from making the claim that Peter Luger's Steakhouse is discriminating against Buddhists/Hindus is the matter of intent.
Start legislating that and you are on your way to prosecuting thought-crimes.


I totally agree with this.

If you don't like what they're doing, the way to win is not to shut them down - it's to offer the tastiest halal / kosher food you possibly can, and just outclass them.
posted by beth at 7:53 PM on January 25, 2006


I disagree. What they are doing is far more insidious. They pretend to be a charity, but really they are nothing more than an Aryan hate group foisting discrimination upon the Muslims. If you think it is all about the charity then you would disagree with me. But, if it is all about the charity, why make a point of providing pork? Some pork now and then without regard to what people won't eat is one thing. Choosing it so that one group can not participate? Fucking Nazis.
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on January 25, 2006


caddis, they might have been baptized, but practicing Catholics are scarce in France.
posted by Cranberry at 9:47 PM on January 25, 2006


One thing that seems to have been said little (and when it is said, ignored) is that this "charity" isn't, for example, providing hamburgers, which would be offensive to some, because they are cheap. This pork soup is undoubtedly more expensive than say, vegetable soup. Or tomato soup. Or something. It is a deliberate political message broadcast through the medium of "charitable action."

And did anyone actually listen to what the leader of the group actually said?

Fabrice Roberts heads a small, extreme-right movement that claims to defend "the rights of the little whites."

"Just 1,000 Muslims in France poses no problem, but 6 million poses a big problem."

Right. I've spelled it out. Now, is there anyone who doesn't understand? He didn't say it had anything to do with overpopulation. He said it was a problem of "critical mass." Thus implying that Muslims are a negative influence on society and/or a problem.

Got it?
posted by malusmoriendumest at 12:23 AM on January 26, 2006


Another thing re: French laws / thought crimes - I can understand Americans are naturally inclined to see the issue under the context they're used to, but you do have to make an effort to see there is no one size fits all solution here, there doesn't have to be a universal "this is the way to deal with extremists / hate speech /racism" recipe, because there are political social and most of all historical differences that cannot be ignored.

So for me it's inconceivable that something like Aryan Nation or the KKK should be allowed to march and distribute material here in Europe - but that doesn't mean I think the US should ban them, not at all, because a) it's not for me to say and b) it probably works better that way over there. After all it's true that if you ban extremists you risk turning them into martyrs and giving them even more of a reason to whine against oppression of free speech. But the US didn't have millions of people in concentration camps and doesn't have far right parties with significant percentage of votes, locally or nationally, like some European countries do. Add to that the occasional bursts of violence - riots, attacks, burning immigrant centres, hooliganism (which is closely tied to racists and far right groups) and you see it is also a problem of public order. So those laws which would not be conceivable in the US are a result of a precise context the US doesn't have (not that it doesn't have racism or far right groups of course but it's different).

Obviously, even in Germany, neonazi and far right groups still exist underground and also find loopholes to get around laws, exactly like these pork soup assholes did. So the laws are hardly the most effective tool. It is a cultural matter first and foremost. But that doesn't mean laws are useless.

Last week the European Parliament passed a resolution against homophobia, which includes the recommendation that member states sanction hateful speech and incitement as well as violent actions and discrimination on the workplace, and what do you know, the usual suspects were out whining on about how the EU is crushing freedom of opinion, so, basically acknowledging they'd like to defend the right to discriminate and physically attack people too. This in the context of having some EU nations like Latvia and Poland that banned gay pride marches and detained protesters. So who's for free speech here? You see the problem?

The US approach works for the US; other countries have a right to have their own, doesn't mean they've chosen a slippery slope to totalitarianism. You have to see things in their own context, not apply yours to everything.

Sorry for length and heaviness, I'll shut up now...
posted by funambulist at 2:17 AM on January 26, 2006


malusmoriendumest writes "This pork soup is undoubtedly more expensive than say, vegetable soup. Or tomato soup."

These things aren't equal. What percentage of your daily protein requirements does vegetable or tomato soup provide?
posted by Mitheral at 6:26 AM on January 26, 2006


The point, Mitheral, is that this group is offering only foods that exclude faithful Jews and Muslims.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on January 26, 2006


And that they're doing it deliberately, for political gain.
posted by occhiblu at 12:06 PM on January 26, 2006


five fresh fish writes "The point, Mitheral, is that this group is offering only foods that exclude faithful Jews and Muslims."

Which I understand and agree with which is why I called them inciteful assholes.
posted by Mitheral at 12:17 PM on January 26, 2006


So whaddya do with inciteful assholes? It's dangerous and, IMO, stupid to just allow them to continue inciting society-harming hatred. Shutting them down, OTOH, takes us down a slippery slope of government control.

There is no easy answer, especially in this particular scenario.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on January 26, 2006


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