Though there are a few exceptions, and although indeed we must fight against those who want to destroy freedom of speech on the internet, it is not as if concrete terrifying things were about to happen.
As for French culture, there's this great obsession in american and british media of the decline thereof and our alleged lamentation over it, but actually, noone in France cares. (see http://superfrenchie.com/?p=1410)
To understand, it is important to compare french and american treatment of culture.
France has the religion of culture. It's an exaggeration, but it's quite true. In France, there's this idea that art and philosophy are the best, highest things someone can do, and that art must deliver deep truths about life, death, and choucroute. While the best artists can be good artists and manage that, it also attracts a lot of pretentious people who have nothing to say, like Bernard Henri Lévy.
America, on the other hand, has the worship of money. Again, an exaggeration. Culture is treated like any other kind of product, and it works pretty well. Hollywood is to movies as Akron is to rubber. Again, the best artists can manage to be good and make money at the same time, but here, it attracts a lot of greedy people who will milk money out of anything that has any kind of success, for example through shameless plagiarising.
"Spreading" fits in the capitalist logic that prevails in America, but not in the snob logic that prevails in France. Here, having popular success is not important. It may even be a flaw.
Apparently Sarkozy now employs Orwell's ghost as a speechwriter:
- "You have a tremendous responsibility that weighs upon you, ... The responsibility has to be shared between you and us."
- "behind the anonymous Internet user there is a real citizen ... and a nation to which he or she belongs"
It defies parody.
What I found most creepy about this talk is how similar it is from preaches I used to hear for Christmas. Same tone, same use of applause lights. It really felt religious. And for such important (and practical) issues, I don't take religiosity as a good starting point.