Everyone with a little secret schadenfreude (to use a French neighbors' term) about the French – and we all know who we are – should read this piece by Adam Gopnik on The New Yorker's blog. It makes an important point, and it's timely:
"… it would be fair to say that while no one in Paris would have been shocked to find him sleeping with a chambermaid, most, if not all, would be stunned if he has really assaulted and attempted to rape one. The notion that France takes these things more lightly is false; adultery has different meanings, and fidelity different rules, but rape is rape."
And speaking of France's neighbors,
"But for lovers of France and French life, there is something deeply depressing not only in the apparent elimination of one of the more plausible alternatives, but by what many in Paris see as the “Italianization” of French life—the descent into what might become an unseemly round of Berlusconian squalor, matched by an inability to renew the political scene with new faces."