Vive La Scandale! French Lawmakers Caught In The Act (Of Playing Scrabble) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Vive La Scandale! French Lawmakers Caught In The Act (Of Playing Scrabble)

How many points do you get for the word "scandale"?

A sidelight scandale flared in France this week after a deputy in the French National Assembly was shown playing Scrabble on his iPad during the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage.

Among the words that could be deciphered in photographs were "gache," which is French for wasted, and "mufle," which is cad or oaf.

The Scrabble player, Deputy Thomas Thevenoud, was as unapologetic as a French politician caught with a mistress, telling Le Parisien newspaper that he was part of a group of legislators who played the word game as debate rumbled on.

"I confirm that we were trying to keep our brain cells working at 3 in the morning," declared Mr. Thevenoud. "When we manage to get 102 points at 3 in the morning, I wouldn't say we are proud of our achievements, but it does reassure us somewhat."

Another deputy, Jerome Guedj, tweeted from the Assembly floor that he sometimes plays Scrabble, reads a newspaper and phones his plumber because drawn-out debates drift and drone into what he called "endless amendments" and "pointless discussions."

"The English can vote on marriage for all in just two days," he complained, "while we take 10 days over nothing."

By the way, the French National Assembly ultimately voted to approve same-sex marriage, 249 to 97.

The exposed Scrabbling deputies were members of the Socialist Party, which sits on the left of the chamber. Meanwhile, Marc Le Fur, a member of the more conservative Union for a Popular Movement, which sits on the right, tweeted a photo of Thomas Thevenoud with the message, "Gay marriage, adoption, and surrogacy, this MP decides the fate of French children."

Tourists who see the U.S. Congress in session are often astonished to discover representatives signing notes, thumbing emails, looking for their names in newspapers and seeming to more or less ignore their colleague who is speaking on the floor, the way you might overlook a man on a New York subway train who's shouting something about the Mayan apocalypse.

Covering any parliamentary debate might help you understand why a legislator's attention could drift. The issues are important and urgent. The legislation proposed is often intricate — even a bill to install a traffic light can be packed with clauses and codicils. But there is rarely any mystery. Debates in legislative bodies these days aren't exchanges to change minds so much as set speeches to fire up people who already agree with you.

Playing Scrabble while you wait to vote the way you know you will might seem a little flippant. But why not encourage legislators to knit something while they sit and wait? By the time they cast their vote, they could make a scarf!

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

For The Autumnal Equinox, A Poem As Chilling As The Fall Weather

Tuesday is the first day of fall. This time of year reminds critic Abigail Deutsch of Stephen Dobyns' "How to Like It" — a poem about a man who ponders his lost summers and fleeting dreams.
NPR

Keeping Heirloom Apples Alive Is 'Like A Chain Letter' Over Many Centuries

Scott Farm in Vermont grows 100 apple varieties, some of them dating back to the 1700s. These apples may not look as pretty as the Red Delicious, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.
WAMU 88.5

New Anthony Brown Video Accuses Opponent Of 'Hiding' And 'Lying"

Democrat Anthony Brown unveiled a new web video today alleging that Republican Larry Hogan is "hiding" his positions on contentious issues like abortion and gun control.
NPR

Retailers' Customers Cautioned As Cyber Attacks Continue

Home Depot says some 56 million card holders were possibly compromised in a cyber attack. It says there's no evidence that debit PIN numbers were comprised or that the breach affected online shoppers.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.