Make a stand against Champagne producer who attacked journalist

25 January, 2008

How important is freedom of the press? Even if you accept that there is no such thing as unfettered investigative journalism - discovering something really damaging about a government, a multinational or a powerful individual is a good way to end up in a coffin - I hope you agree that, within reason, the Fourth Estate should speak its mind.

Journalists, especially columnists, who have nothing to say aren't worth reading. If that means upsetting people from time to time, then so be it.

You might feel like thumping a wine writer yourself from time to time. At our worst we can be arrogant, lazy and off-hand. But I hope you'd do a better job of channelling your aggression than the Champagne producer Patrick Bourson, who attacked the journalist Jean-François Scherpereel in Reims recently because he objected to something that the latter had written in a local newspaper.

The fact that Monsieur Bourson is a supporter of the French Front National might be seen as reason enough to boycott his wines in some circles. But I don't agree. However unsavoury some of its policies, the FN remains a legitimate political party on the other side of the Channel. On the other hand, I think that punching a journalist, or anyone for that matter, because you don't agree with their point of view is unacceptable.

Scherpereel is said to have pressed charges. But while we wait for the matter to come to court, we pacifists can vote with our wallets by refusing to taste, buy or recommend Bourson's wines.

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