52 States in 8 Months

Oh my god, the French have also gone mad.

Posted in Europe by Ulf on May 4, 2009

What I’ve just read is really hard to believe. Heise pointed me to it, but you might want to read some French sources (first, second).

24-heures-de-garde-a-vue-pour-un-sms_mediumThis is supposed to have happened around April 16, 2009. Stéphane is a 29-years old guy from France. He received a text message on his cell phone from a “une vague connaissance de travail” (a vague contact from work) saying “Pour faire dérailler un train, t’as une solution?” (Do you have a solution for derailing a train?). Now, Stephane seems to have ignored the message. His cell phone operator however hasn’t. When the prosecution learned about the message, Stephane was cited to come to the commissariat of Abbeville, and he heard them talking about taking him into custody for ten days. And indeed, he was jailed! In a yellow prison cell, smelling of piss, giving him the feeling of being treated like a dog. It took 24 hours until Stephane was released, just as the author of the text message.
The prosecutors said that they had to do it, because they just couldn’t take any risk.

I believe that the prosecutors are wrong. We can accept some risk. And we have to. I believe that it’s really a shame that something like this can happen anywhere in the world. And it’s even more of a shame that it can happen in the center of Europe! Shame on you, French officials! Shame on us Europeans! What kind of a world is this? Why are the state and the cell phone companies reading our text messages? And how can someone be arrested for receiving an SMS?

Also, I believe that it is perfectly fine to think about train derailing, just like thinking about traffic accidents. Try this one: If you find a solution to derail a train, you can think about measurements to prevent it from happening. However, if we are not allowed to think about train derailing in the first place, you won’t be able to make train riding safer. In dubio pro reo.

If the newspaper articles are correct, then I hope that this incident has consequences for the prosecutors who ordered the jailing. It looks like they’ve completely lost their view for reality. We cannot accept these lunatics in responsible public positions.

EDIT: Someone who is more fluent in French than I am figured out that it wasn’t the phone company who alarmed the police but it was some guy at a telephone repair shop (where Stephane brought his cell phone). To my mind, that doesn’t change anything…

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