The Electric Commentary

Sunday, October 23, 2005

UN passes cultural stagnation law.

As Wayne's friend Garth once said,

We fear change.

Check this out (From the recently passed Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions):

Article 8—Measures to protect cultural expressions

1. Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 5 and 6, a Party may determine those special situations where cultural expressions on its territory are at risk of extinction, under serious threat, or otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding.

2. Parties may take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve cultural expressions in situations referred to in paragraph 1 in a manner consistent with the provisions of this Convention.

3. Parties shall report to the Intergovernmental Committee all measures taken to meet the exigencies of the situation, and the Committee may make appropriate recommendations.

For instance, let's say that some country wanted to wipe with corncobs instead of toilet paper, and some hip teenagers started "attacking the culture" by getting their own TP imported from the US. That government could pass a tariff on US TP to preserve their cob-wipin' ways.

While cultural diversity is a good thing, the reason that it is a good thing is that we are exposed to new ideas and new concepts, and we can decide which ideas rule (Burritos), and which leave something to be desired (stoning women). This rule seeks to remove certain practices from the cultural marketplace for no good reason.

Tim Cavanaugh sums it up nicely:

Hey, Renaud, while you're winning the rest of the UNESCO apparatchiks over to your side, take a gander at the movies your own countrymen chose to spend their Euros on this year. And while you're at it, tell the Canadians—who are forced by their government to pretend they know your language—that they're also doing a heck of a job showing their disapproval of American cultural products.


  • George F. Will also opined on this piece of legislation a couple of weeks ago. I'm curious as to how an American company that is owned in part or in whole by a foreign corporation would be handled by this ruling. I don't have any figures handy, but a surprising (to me) number of American consumer giants are actually owner by European conglomerates, some of which are even based in France!

    By Blogger dhodge, at 7:58 AM  

  • No! Not France!

    Thanks for the link dhodge, that's a good Will column.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 3:52 PM  

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