Jackie Chamoun photos: Lebanon outdumbs itself

Lebanon’s media has a fine tradition of stupidity, incitement and McCarthyism. It vilifies the weak (foreigners, domestic workers, gays, sex workers) and lionises the strong (“politicians”). I’ve covered this before.

So it won’t come as much surprise to see the reports in the last few days that claimed a topless photo shoot done several years ago by a Lebanese skier, Jackie Chamoun, (to promote her sport) was “scandalous” and had shamed Lebanon in the eyes of the world. I won’t link to the photos, nor shall I shame some websites who have clearly not only shared all the pictures in question with SEO friendly headlines and search words, but have also gone through the video accompanying the shoot and taken screen grabs of the skiers when they are at their most topless. Although I’m tempted.

As has been pointed out, Lebanon’s media morals are currently so skewed that it is totally fine for multiple channels to show the disembowelled corpses of suicide bombing victims, but not fine, apparently, for a grown woman to bare some flesh.

It’s heartening to see the response such reports have provoked, with Lebanese Twitter and Facebook users springing to Chamoun’s defence. Gives one some hope for Lebanon (which rapidly drains out of one after two minutes in front of the news). Chamoun has issued an apology, which I suppose is entirely her prerogative (although speaking personally I’d have preferred a three word response that starts “go fuc…”).

In a giant middle finger to the victims of car bombs and decades of infrastructural decay (things for which resources and time should be allocated) Caretaker Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami announced he would be investigating Chamoun’s photo shoot. There is even talk of her being banned from competing in future olympics. Which, if does happen, is about the most perfect analogy of Lebanon’s “misplaced priorities” I’ve seen yet.

Two things:

Lebanon’s Ministry of Tourism has repeatedly produced promotional videos essentially centred on the bodies of Lebanese women. I’ve covered this before, too.

As I wrote a few years back:

There is an argument to say there is little wrong with a country using its natural assets (Lebanon is still poor in resources, and will remain so until the government can agree on what to do with natural gas and oil reserves in the east Mediterranean) to boost its economic draw. As long as the women in the commercial are consensual, what is wrong with flashing their flesh to promote Lebanon? After all, plenty of countries flaunt their female beauty stocks in a bid to draw beach-dwelling binocular users to their shores.

Not plenty of countries, however, display the same level of hypocrisy by on one hand encouraging grabby men to come and ogle their women while denying those same women basic rights enjoyed by men.

Here’s one of those videos for your perusal:

Lebanon has even before taken to the pages of Playboy to flog its women. Anyway. It’s transparently hypocritical to promote women as physical specimens while simultaneously denying them equal treatment in every facet of professional and familial society, just as people without boobs shouldn’t get to tell people with boobs what to do with them.

Secondly, I urge everyone to read this report about the Lebanese ski team and how it has had to overcome unimaginable managerial incompetence, corruption and fecklessness to even make it to the Olympics. Any Olympics.

One might think the media might be, I dunno, proud of a young professional who – like many, many citizens of Lebanon – has had to struggle and fight in the face of downright ineptitude and obstructiveness to achieve their ambition. But as you know by now, that’s not how Lebanon – least of all the politicised media – does things. It’s waspish, petty, self-righteous and stupid. Put that in a tourism video.

Comments

  1. Nicolas Sfeir says

    Mr. Galey,

    Thank you for your comments. However, allow me to make the following notes.

    First, in your article, you state that “Lebanon’s media has a fine tradition of stupidity, incitement and McCarthyism. It vilifies the weak (foreigners, domestic workers, gays, sex workers) and lionises the strong (“politicians”). I’ve covered this before.”

    That is correct. However, you fail to point out that this tradition of “stupidity, incitement and McCarthyism” is shared by media outlets worldwide, including in the West. So for instance, the Western media routinely vilifies the oppressed Palestinians and victimizes the occupying army of lsrael. Consider also your newspaper, The Guardian, and its open and McCarthyist calls of incitement for an illegal and stupid invasion of Iraq, on the fabricated grounds of the country’s possession of WMDs:
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/jan/19/leaders.politics

    As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    You go on to say that “Lebanon’s media morals are currently so skewed that it is totally fine for multiple channels to show the disembowelled corpses of suicide bombing victims, but not fine, apparently, for a grown woman to bare some flesh.”

    Perhaps it is fine “for a grown woman to bare some flesh” in Europe or in the US. And that would be her right and we tolerate that because it is part of her culture. However, and despite some dubious claims to the contrary, the Lebanese culture is undoubtedly a relatively conservative one. And your inferred defense of this woman’s right to bare it all conceals a racist disdain for our culture. That is implied in your condescending and chauvinistic criticism of our society’s conservatism.

    Finally, you state that “Chamoun has issued an apology, which I suppose is entirely her prerogative (although speaking personally I’d have preferred a three word response that starts “go fuc…”.)

    That is your personal opinion and it is not relevant in this case. What matters is this young lady’s reaction to the controversy. And she has clearly expressed her remorse, stating “I want to apologize to all of you, I know that Lebanon is a conservative country and this is not the image that reflects our culture. I fully understand if you want to criticize this.” So if Jackie Chamoun herself is apologizing for posing topless, who are you to suggest how she should have alternatively responded?

    And for all the hypocritical Lebanese men & women “springing to her defense” for posing topless (when she herself has already expressed regret for doing so), the only question that they must answer is: Would they have been okay with their siblings/boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances/spouses posing naked for the general public?

    • patrickgaley says

      Dear Mr Sfeir,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog post. Your feedback is valued, as is that of all my readers.

      I am afraid I have to take issue with a number of points you raise.

      Firstly, of course I agree that the vilification of the weak by the media is not a uniquely Lebanese phenomenon. It happens all over the world, as you say. However, today I decided to cover a issue that was thrown up and editorialised exclusively by the Lebanese media (remember, these photos are several years old and it was only through Al-Jadeed’s muck raking that Chamoun’s photo shoot – and the clearly diverging responses it has produced – has received such attention).

      I have repeatedly, and on record, criticised the bellicosity, discrimination or outright bigotry of the mainstream media (especially in the west). I have to correct you by pointing out that The Guardian is not my paper, merely one of a series of publications for whom I write, and they no more reflect my world view than I do theirs. I agree that it is wrong to advocate illegal wars. I’m not sure what that has to do with a Lebanese skier. Were I to attempt to qualify, as you suggest, each assertion I make about Lebanese media with an example of how western media is also bad, I would end up writing very long blog posts indeed.

      I am sorry you feel that my belief that a grown woman should be able to do with her body what she sees fit (with the obvious proviso that laws be respected) constitutes a ‘racist distain’ for your culture.

      Your claim, which may very well be valid, that Lebanon is a deeply conservative society has some evidence to back it up. Specifically, the way that women have been consistently treated as legally inferior to men – both in terms of personal status disputes, domestic violence and inheritance legislation – would suggest you have a point.

      However, while in my (admittedly limited) experience it is a thankless task to try and be too sweeping about Lebanese society, I used this post to show an uneven and arbitrary application of the very conservatism you claim underpins the whole country. This is why I used the examples of tourism adverts showing off Lebanese women in beachwear, or advertorials overtly advocating sex tourism in Lebanon.

      Chamoun’s apology itself, you are quite correct, did hint at Lebanon being a conservative country. Where we differ, I fear, is that I view Chamoun’s apology as more of ‘I’m sorry if I caused offence and I respect your right to take offence’ rather than ‘I was wrong to do what I did.’

      Again I say that Chamoun is a young adult and, while she must take responsibility for her actions as we all must, what acts she chooses to undertake should not be viewed through the prism of phallocentric society. I’ll point out here that I was under the impression (I’m sure you shall correct me if this proves erroneous) that Lebanese society valued at some level freedom of expression.

      I’m afraid I cannot see where you draw the conclusion that anyone who supports the actions of one of their compatriots (a successful, talented one at that who is representing her country at the pinnacle of sporting events) is automatically a hypocrite. I think that her fans like and appreciate all her dedication and sacrifice and either a) don’t have a problem with what she did or b) would hate to see this seemingly trifling issue overshadow a lifetime of achievement and success. I have a suspicion, Mr. Sfeir, that you can no more speak for all of Lebanese society than I can for all the Western media.

      Finally, if you are asking me if my view on this whole episode would be different were it my sister or mother or whomever, then I fear you are missing the point of taking a moral position. Believing in individual freedoms and the right to freedom of expression (which Lebanon claims to safeguard in its very founding documentation) means the individual is unimportant. It is the right itself that people have and continue to fight for.

      For what it’s worth, you ask ‘who am I’ to suggest something to Chamoun. Well, Mr. Sfeir. Who am I to suggest my sister, mother, aunt, girlfriend or anyone for that matter, act in any manner other than according to their wishes?

      Yours Sincerely,
      Patrick

      • Youssef says

        I am lebanese and i agree with you Patrick.Lebanese don t fuss about major offenses taking place in their own country such as some of their leaders being agents of foreigners while they make a big deal about Chamoun showing her own personal flesh.

    • Claude Marcos says

      Dear Mr. Sfeir,

      You wrote “And for all the hypocritical Lebanese men & women “springing to her defense” for posing topless (when she herself has already expressed regret for doing so), the only question that they must answer is: Would they have been okay with their siblings/boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances/spouses posing naked for the general public?”

      I take offense to that as I am one of the many so-called hypocritical Lebanese who has sprung to her defense. Unless you know each and every one of us, how can you state that we are hypocrites? Your last question seems rethorical to you, it implies that you think the only possible answer is no. Do you really think, because we share the same nationality, we all think alike? Intolerance has been the bane of our existence in Lebanon, and this episode of shaming an Olympic athlete (when we have so few!) over what is nothing less than her own personal right and freedom, is the lowest of the low. We have much bigger fish to fry…

  2. Kamal ABUHAIDAR says

    Dear Mr. Galey

    Your comments are correct on the subject matter at hand.

    Although Mr. Sfeir comments are correct; they are not linked to the our Lebanese Champion.

    If some consider what you wrote is wrong, then one should comment on the text itself and not justify with other wrongs wherever they may come from.

    I appreciate your article.

    Best wishes

  3. Carole says

    1- While stupidity is universal, Lebanon (especially its media) takes it to a higher level. For examples please turn on your TV at any Lebanese station at any time of the day.

    2- Lebanon being a conservative culture is not necessarily true. Some people want it to be a conservative culture and ignore the rest who are living their lives as they want, not according everyone else’s opinion. Not everyone is conservative and those who wish not to be have the right to do so. I don’t see the need to follow everyone’s social policy because we happened to live in the same country.
    Also, is this really such a pressing issue in Lebanon? Do we have nothing better to do than dictate social norms?

    3- Regarding the apology. This makes me think of all the Lebanese women who have had to apologize for things they never regretted. I can’t speak for Jackie but I know for a fact that we Lebanese women are often forced to apologize not because we are sorry or because we finally “came to our senses” but because it’s the only way to live with people who refuse any other opinion/way of life than their own.

    It’s not our bodies we need to be ashamed of, it’s our lack of logic.

    PS: To answer the question “Would they have been okay with their siblings/boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances/spouses posing naked for the general public?”
    That’s really up to the siblings/boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances/spouses to decide. Their body, their decision. The general public has nothing to do with it, they don’t have to buy the calendar. They can look at western women if it makes them feel more conservative.

  4. Lebanese opinion says

    Dear Patrick,
    I just want to clarify two points here, one is commenting on the previous comment by Nicolas sfeir and second by my own opinion.
    So regarding the Media that Mr. sfeir is saying, yes i agree with him that Media in the western world is not supportive to a lot of the Arab cases and one of them is the Palestenian one, however THIS raises two issues, first a problem that we always whenever we or someone else try to criticize we immediately attach it somehow to the idea of conspiracy against Arabs! Which actually people like you patrick or other journalists who have balls talk about the holes and decaying country that we have. Yes my country is rotten and the shame is to say it’s great, other than trying to be open about it and try to fix it starting from removing this idea of conspiracy. The second issue is that our media plays a role of a virus, spread fast and make us sick rather than try to be the antibiotics that defend our rights against those assholes who are corrupting this country. Ya3ni in another word, rather than focusing on conspiracy and boobs, focus on the crimes that is been done against women, killing, murdering, robberies, no government and all of this shit. (sorry for my language but am fed up with keeping my words well behaved)

    The second thing that i wanted to remind is that there are a lot of shameful thing that we are spreading in adds that are really like a crime against humanity, instead of boobs that didn’t offend anyone, did anyone think about the adds that discriminate women rights like mokarzel jewellery that says that women rights is to have jewelery only and nothing else, to advertise that in mothers day is good to gift a washing machine and hoover, or the electoral adds about “be beautiful and vote” “be smart and vote”…. i think you got my point, these are the things that we should be ashamed of and not Jackie’s boobs! What a level of shame Lebanon has reached.

  5. Charbel says

    Mr. Sfeir,

    If your sister did that without you knowing in the begining, then later on you find it out… Would you be the first one to chastise her openly on the net? Or would you support her? Or maybe just disagree in your corner, alone?

    If you want to decide for her how to behave, I think you’re giving her the right to decide for you how to react to it.

    Live and let live comrade.

  6. Lebanese opinion says

    I meant by didn’t offend, didn’t hurt physically or emotionally! where there are lots and lots of things that have done this in a direct way. Also am confused, so we contradict ourselves a lot, on one hand we say oh lebanon is a great country and very open minded people and the best place in the middle east, and then when it comes to rights, we deny it, or crimes we turn our backs. Who are we now!!! we are nothing, we lie to ourselves, as if looking in the mirror and saying Mirror mirror who is the most beautiful person on earth and we know in our heart that nothing is working, nothing is functioning, nothing is being done the way it should, nothing is being achieved by all sides and aspects and levels, it’s like a geometrical scheme, taking lebanon from north to south to east and west, among itself it’s rotten and collapsing. This is not an opinion of pessimistic person or someone who just throwing words in the air, am Lebanese who is 100% living the worse time that Lebanon is passing through. There were times like golden or silver times, i think now we are in an era that should be called “the shit era”. again forgive my impolite words.

  7. NBM says

    We should be proud of an achiever rather putting her down. It is a shame to have politicians lie to their people, can not have a gentlemen dialogue on TV without cussing or throwing water at each other. We really live in a conservative society but 1960 is not here any more people are going forward and we are pushing backward. We should all be proud of a Lebanese achiever

  8. Nicolas Sfeir says

    Dear Mr. Galey,

    Thank you for your thorough reply to my comment. It is highly appreciated. Bear with me as I reciprocate with the lengthy response you deserve.

    To start, my comment had indeed nothing to do with our Lebanese ski champion. It was simply to point out what I perceived as a singling-out of Lebanese media for criticism from your end. Of course, I did not expect you to present a simultaneous critique of Western media. However, a mere acknowledgement that the “tradition” you speak of is universal would have sufficed to free you of any accusation of bias.

    However, I stand by my claim that your comments concealed an undertone of racism. I’m sorry, I apologize. I was actually mistaken. It was not concealed. On the contrary, it was blatantly proclaimed in the title of your article: “Lebanon Outdumbs Itself”. That is supremacist talk, Mr Galey. And there is no other word to qualify one man’s insult and derision of an entire nation.

    The evidence you offered of conservatism in our society is simplified & misleading. As you may know, personal status and inheritance legislation differ from one sect to another. For instance, within the Christian & Shiite Muslim confessions, the estate of a deceased person is divided equally among the male & female progeny. Furthermore, the Lebanese constitution includes a provision stating that French civil law applies to those Lebanese wishing to remove mention of sect from their official records. Perhaps you may brandish the Lebanese nationality law, which bars women from passing citizenship to their children, as further proof of conservatism. But that would be further proof of simplification from your part. Though I myself oppose this clause, one must understand that it originates from a Lebanese fear of an upset of the confessional balance in our fragile country. And that is exacerbated by the presence of Palestinian & Syrian refugees, who are Muslim for the most part and who have inter-married with the Lebanese. Interestingly, Naharnet reports that Hizbullah, the most radical & conservative group in our society, supported a reform of the nationality law in favor of women’s right to pass on citizenship (http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/34217). As for domestic violence towards women in Lebanon, you would have to provide supporting evidence. But it is not as if the West is without any problems of domestic violence towards women or children.

    It is true “that what acts Jackie chooses to undertake should not be viewed through” a phallocentric prism. But, it should neither be viewed through a WESTERN-CENTRIC prism, Mr Galey. And that is the limited field of vision you have adopted.

    Indeed, what I don’t understand is why you want to impose Western values on the Lebanese. You & I may not agree with Hindus on their veneration of cows. But we must tolerate their culture. You & I may not agree with the polygynous marriages of the Logoli tribe in Kenya. But we must accept their culture. You & I may not agree with the veiling of women in the Muslim world. But we must show respect towards their religion. My fellow Muslims may not agree with women posing nude in Europe. But they must accept their culture. And you & I may not agree with the public uproar to a woman posing topless in Lebanon. But we must tolerate the Lebanese culture.

    In any case, I don’t understand where you are coming from, Mr. Galey. It is not as if the West tolerates stars of their own baring it all on camera. Countless beauty queens have been stripped of their titles after revelations of naked photoshoots, pornographic movies, wild parties and even pregnancy: Melissa King (Miss Delaware 2013), Vanessa Williams (Miss America 1984), Oxana Fedorova (Miss Universe 2002) and Katie Rees (Miss Nevada 2006) to name a few. Even Western Presidents have had to contemplate the risk of impeachment and resignation following acts of infidelity, such as in the aftermath of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. In contrast, when nude photos of Rosarita Tawil (Miss Lebanon 2008) surfaced on the web, she was allowed to keep her title. It seems we are less conservative and more tolerant than Westerners after all, Mr. Galey.

    Again, Mr Galey, what I find hypocritical is Lebanese men & women defending Jackie’s actions, when they themselves wouldn’t carry such actions out or approve of any family members carrying such actions out. Of course, this has nothing to do with their appreciation for her skills as a skier. She is indeed very talented. As a fan, I hope she performs well in the Giant Slalom & Slalom events on February 18th and 21st.

    To summarize, Mr. Galey, I believe you should adopt a tolerant attitude towards our culture and other cultures as well. It is the plurality of cultures which makes us humans such a colorful lot. And that is why you should be alarmed at the rapid extinction of cultures around the globe due to the westernization arising from an increasingly globalized world economy. I also think it is clear by now that, as a Lebanese, I have more of a right to speak on behalf of my society than you do, sir.

    Regards,
    Nicolas.

    • C. M. says

      As a Lebanese (a very proud one at that), I object to you talking on behalf of my society. You give yourself way too much importance and do not in any way represent the Lebanese people; who elected you to speak on our behalf???? Shame on you for claiming you have any more right than Mr. Galey to talk about our society. You represent yourself and only that; at least have the decency to say that instead of accusing Mr. Galey of having no right to do so; at least he is astute enough not to make claims on behalf of a whole society. As a human being, he is entitled to his opinion whether he is Lebanese or not. You are equally entitled to yours, as is obvious in what I can only call a rant (and yes that is my opinion).

      You give the example of Rosarita Tawil in pride of us being more liberal than the West in this example, yet by doing so contradict yourself, you either say we are conservative or not; take a side and stick to it. You claim that we should
      not view things from a Western – Centric prism, yet you give your opinions from dare I say a conservative-centric prism and expect people to accept it? You also ask Mr. Galey to adopt a more tolerant attitude towards other cultures (which frankly he really hasn’t shown to the contrary of), yet you have no tolerance for the diversity of your own culture, making you the hypocrite and not all the other Lebanese who have defended Jackie (who are also entitled to their own opinion) or Mr. Galey.

      The title Mr. Galey uses may be a tad insulting, but it is catchy and made me want to read and delve into the article to only find that he actually stood up for a Lebanese woman, when so many of her fellow men took it upon themselves to do the opposite.

      Please do not speak on behalf of anyone but yourself as you have no right to do so.

  9. R.A. says

    Dear Nicolas,
    I am Lebanese, and I find that Jackie’s actions do not contradict with her patriotism or any of the principles “my” country was built upon either. Furthermore, I don’t believe you are any more entitled to speak on behalf of our society than any other member of it. Let me put it this way, the arguments you provide are just naive. You said, “what I find hypocritical is Lebanese men & women defending Jackie’s actions, when they themselves wouldn’t carry such actions out or approve of any family members carrying such actions out”. I personally would not get my ear pierced or get my leg tattooed, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that I believe there’s something wrong with it. It’s a personal preference, a choice one makes. I keep seeing comments from people (who are more or less from the same “opinion” category you fall under), and they go along the lines of “Being civilized does not mean one gets to appear nude”; well, I don’t believe being civilized is any way or form attached with what one wears either.

    Back at school, I was taught that one’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins, and I have tried in vain for the last two days to see how a girl’s freedom stood in the way of your freedom (or anyone’s freedom for that matter) in any manner. Lebanon was a country established on the principles of “diversity”, “accepting the other”, and “freedom”; I don’t think Jackie violated any of those. Some people in my country are continuously labeling things they don’t like or agree with as “anti-conservative”. Which countries are the most civilized in the world? (Look them up as a personal exercise) Check the human development index, and any appropriate indices of the “maturity” of a country which you might deem suitable). I bet more than 70% of them have nude beaches. You are “free” to go to those beaches or not, but they are there. An educated mind understands the concept of options, a free mind enjoys the flexibility of selecting the options to exercise, and a civilized mind knows when exercising his freedom is abusive to that of another.

    I and many of friends have long left the country due to the ideologies people like you promote about the place we were born into, and it’s a shame that we have to defend what the world thinks about where we come from. When they see clubs, they wonder how come there’s alcohol in our country. When they say beach bars, they wonder how come are girls wearing swimsuits. When they watch the news of our region, they wonder why aren’t we aggressive like some of the people appearing on the news. We watch the French version of the “voice”, and we start applauding when the chairs are turned for a Lebanese (We start yelling, “He/She is Lebanese”), and then when we switch to the news, we have to justify why our country is a mess due to retards and retarded ideologies.

    You said Jackie apologized, and concluded that she feels some sort of remorse. I don’t know how old you are, but let me ask you, if you were 22, if you have spent your whole life working for something,and if I you were so close to getting there when people started casting stones on you for something you did when you were 19 (not a wrong thing I stress), what would you do? I would do the same because I would want so badly the people I represent to be on my side even if that entails me having to say sorry for things I am not really sorry for. It’s called being “human”.

    4 million or so “Lebanese” live in Lebanon. You guys used to be happy when a whole basketball team represented your country; today,there’s a 22 year old who’s doing the same. She’s not a team; she’s a single person, and she managed to get there on her own. She’s representing my country in the Olympics regardless of whatever she did in her free time. I am proud of what this girl is doing for my country; it’s one of the rare occasions where the image of our country is portrayed positively to the world out there.

    Every time an Olympic event is held, I start going through the list of events mulling over if I still have the time in my life to participate in any. I can’t find one. Being an Olympic participant is a lifetime’s worth of work, and if you can’t do it, and if many of those stone-casters, can’t do it, she did. I am proud that there’s a 22-year old girl in Sochi 2014, who’s representing me and the place I come from, who’s putting the name of my country on the list of participants. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. A heart of gold is worth so much more than a gold medal, and Jackie, well, she’s gold to me.

  10. A says

    “I also think it is clear by now that, as a Lebanese, I have more of a right to speak on behalf of my society than you do, sir.”

    Dear Mr. Sfeir,

    Who said that a person have more or less right to speak on behalf of the Lebanese society sir?! Who said that by being Lebanese we all share the same culture?

    My culture is love, peace and beauty, not war, hatred and ugliness. I feel offended and outraged watching naked dead bodies on the streets across my country but it does not bother me at all to look at a stunning and alive Jackie who is expressing her freedom and passion for her sport… I may chose to be conservative and not pose naked (or barely half-naked in her case!) but I would still respect the choice of a beautiful and talented young lady like her.

    Her Body, Her Business!

    And if the issue is that she is representing Lebanon at the Olympic Games, well she does represent me and millions of other Lebanese women and men like me, and she makes us feel very proud!

    When women of the 21st century don’t have the right to drive, let alone speak up their minds or represent their countries at any sort of event, that should make us pause and reflect on what conservatism really is and how differently it is perceived and lived.

    #BoobsNotBombs

  11. Lea-k says

    Dear Mr Sfeir,
    a photo-shoot for a calendar that was meant to be shown in another country has nothing to do with Lebanese values. that does not mean that all Lebanese women should do the same but in Jackie’s case it happened and the media gave too much attention for something not worth it at all

    and can you please tell me what value are you talking about?
    1-do you see the “underwear ads” that invades our roads and to which our children are exposed 24 hours per day?
    2-do you watch TV and read the newspapers? we are bombarded daily with shows and photos of of sexy and erotic Lebanese artists (which are dumb and stupid also) shaking their asses and boobs live on TV while repeating awful lyrics!
    3-do you check Lebanese magazines and the hundred photos of private parties and events that are happening around Lebanon? did you notice how Lebanese women dress nowadays?

    these are the things that are dangerous to our children and future generation
    and not a photo-shoot showing barely a half naked Lebanese woman whether it was an athlete or not…

  12. Manipur says

    Dear Mr. Sfeir,

    Chill out. The Middle East problems are not to be solved today.
    Meanwhile, And let’s clean up the prostitutes -of all races and religions- on every major street from tripoli to Jounieh to Beirut. And let’s keep the drug dealers away from our kids in school. And let’s keep corrupt politicians away from us.

    I see Jackie Chamoun as a courageous woman. We have MUCH BIGGER problems than flesh and breasts!

    Get real!

    • Mansour says

      Dear Mr. Sfeir,

      This is Mansour from Jounieh.

      Chill out. The Middle East problems are not to be solved today.
      Meanwhile, let’s clean up the prostitutes -of all races and religions- on every major street from tripoli to Jounieh to Beirut. And let’s keep the drug dealers away from our kids in school. And let’s keep corrupt politicians away from us.
      I see Jackie Chamoun as a courageous woman. We have MUCH BIGGER problems than flesh and breasts!
      Get real!

  13. Pierre says

    Dear Mr. Sfeir,

    I salute your logic, ur meticulously contructed argumentation, and the credible support you have provided to support your case. While I disagree with some of the points you have made (specifically regarding the intent behind Jackie’s apology), frankly speaking, you’re the only one in this forum that makes sense, regardless of the opinion you have adopted regarding this matter.

  14. Karl says

    Dear Mr. Sfeir,

    Your opinion is noted and respected, however on behalf of the youth of Lebanon I must ask you to refrain from deciding what Lebanon’s culture is and what we find acceptable. Your generation, and I assume you are over 40 years old, had its chance at defining Lebanon and the result was a warlord den. Today the youth of Lebanon believe in freedom, equality and life. As Jackie Chamoun has stated, her father was not okay with her posing, yet he did not intervene. Your belief that Lebanon is a conservative country might have been true back in the days but today the youths are fighting and freeing themselves from those old values. we have seen a rise in the LGBT community like never before and we have seen activism in their favour from all sects and all sexual orientations. It would be wise to stop sticking to what you believe and make way for what we believe because we are the future of this country. And finally, in response to your strongest argument, the one about the hypocrisy nonsense, enjoy this link that shows you how dedicated we are to supporting Jackie Chamoun’s decision to show her body to the world: http://hummusforthought.com/2014/02/12/stripforjackie-campaign-gains-momentum/

    Thank you,
    Have a nice day.

  15. Pierre says

    Mr. Karl,

    While I respect your opinion, your link that “purports” to demonstrate Lebanon’s unwavering support for Jackie Chamoun’s decision to show her body, includes an abysmal sample of 10 semi-naked individuals. Is that the “dedication” you are so proud of?

    • Karl says

      Pierre,

      Every movement needs a face/spokesperson. The campaign started today at 3 p.m., If you are still skeptical you can follow the #StripForJackie hashtag that has been spamming the web for the past 2 days. As well, maybe the 5500 followers of the page I Am Not Naked on facebook (started not 24h ago) should work to convince you. What I am proud of is not the sheer number of people getting naked for the cause, rather the outrage that got us to the point of considering posting pictures of ourselves naked to prove a point. It saddens me that you require more than that to understand the dedication to freedom and liberty. But I am not here to convince anyone, it is not an opinion, it is a statement. Time will tell if my pride was misplaced.

      Thank you.

  16. Pierre says

    Dear Karl,

    The purpose of the #StripforJackie page, is to demonstrate support for Jackie Chamoun by posting a naked picture of one’s self. After a thorough and meticulous examination of the page which already includes hundreds of pictures, I found only one single picture of a topless woman.
    As for the “I am not Naked” page on Facebook, the fan page includes the very same sample of 10 semi-naked individuals that were found in your link.
    Mr. Karl, it doesn’t matter that the page now includes 7500 likes or the fact that Jackie Chamoun’s Facebook fan page now has the support of 40 000 people. Indeed, as you are very well aware of, actions speak louder than words. And if those supporters truly believed in their “quest for liberty and freedom” as you so naively put it, then they should all willfully and without any hesitation, post fully naked pictures of themselves online. But this is not the case Mr. Karl.

    • Claude Marcos says

      Dear Pierre,

      I will not post a picture of myself, either naked or semi-naked. Does that mean I do not support Jackie’s right to do so? Or anyone else for that matter? No it doesn’t. Just as no one can dictate what she can or cannot do with her body, no one has the right to set “acceptable standards” for what constitutes support for freedom of expression. Who are you to say what they “should willfully and without any hesitation” do?
      Refusing to post a naked picture of myself might make me a prude, but it certainly doesn’t make me any less of a supporter of other people’s freedom to do as they please.

      – Claude

  17. Pierre says

    Dear Claude,

    I appreciate your comment on the matter in hand. However, allow me to make the following point :
    The question is: why wouldn’t you want to post a naked picture of yourself? While you might predictably make the cliché claim that it is matter of freedom of choice (which goes without saying), your decision is undoubtedly governed by perceived negative public reactions to the picture either by members of your family or society.
    Of course you, a male, would be ok with Ms. Chamoun, a beautiful woman you have no connection to whatsoever, exhibiting her body, but would you be so unapologetic in your endeavor if any member of your family had decided to pose naked? The answer is a clear “No” Mr. Claude, despite your predictable claims to the contrary.
    I rest my case Mr. Marco. Enough time has been wasted on this pointless forum.

    • Claude Marcos says

      Dear Pierre,

      You have made 3 (false) assumptions about me in your reply. Let me show you why you should never assume to know anything about someone that, well, you don’t know at all.
      I am a woman.

      – Claude

  18. Pierre says

    Hello Ms. Marcos,

    Allow me to apologize for assuming that you were a man. I admit that I made a false assumption and I take full responsibility for this erroneous judgement.
    However, the argument still stands Ms. Marcos regardless of your gender.
    Respectfully,
    Pierre

    • Claude Marcos says

      I would’ve thought an error in judgement might make you more open to hear what I, and others have to say for ourselves; rather than assume you already know what I would and wouldn’t accept in any given circumstance.

      It seems I have also made a false assumption. Never mind, our little debate was fun, if not productive.

      All the best!

  19. R.A. says

    So, Pierre, anyone who would not do something “personally” has to be against it? This is absurd. I don’t personally engage in a large number of activities without any opposition to those who do. I don’t want to be “conservative” if being conservative denies people the right to self-expression, freedom, or individuality.

    I respect others’ freedoms, but I will not be deprived of mine to respect others’ “preferences”.

    First world countries don’t prevent people from that, and that’s why people like yourself, who think the way you do, are killing any hope for our country to see true development. You’re so stuck on the trivialities that you can’t see past them, can’t distinguish what the real issues are. I bet some people posed nude in the United States, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom at some point in time. Did their countries fall short of being “developed” or “civilized”? It’s 2014. Wars and revolutions for one’s freedom have already been fought, and we are not going to fight again for what the entire world agrees upon (freedom that is). If you insist to travel back in time, do that on your own; my friends, family, and I are fans of the “now” and “tomorrow”.

  20. Pierre says

    R.A, I will not respond to slogans, sheer jingoism, and empty chants. In short, remnants of our medieval past.
    Please refer back to me when you actually learn the basics of constructive argumentation and cohesiveness.

  21. R.A. says

    This is not a debate. There’s nothing to debate here. Freedom is an inalienable right. Lebanon was built upon those principles; review your history and check how Lebanon was always different from the rest of the neighboring countries as a consequence of the extensive levels of freedom found there. Constructive argumentation does not entail me changing a country’s essence and tailor my own opinion to your own personal preferences. Some people want a conservative country, others don’t. You can’t force things unto others unless they’re jeopardizing your own freedom.

  22. R.A. says

    I might lack the cohesiveness as I don’t really have the time nor the patience to reedit a reply as this is a spontaneous conversation for me, but I wonder, do you really think that,

    “And if those supporters truly believed in their “quest for liberty and freedom” as you so naively put it, then they should all willfully and without any hesitation, post fully naked pictures of themselves online.”

    is an intelligent man’s argument, I’ll ask you a simple question to pinpoint the lack of any educated analysis in your argumentation.

    Lebanon has a number of citizens that exceeds 4,000,000 millions. I’ll be extra cautious with my estimates, and assume that the population is distributed evenly across all age groups:

    [1-10] 10%, [11-20] 10%, [21-30] 10%…..[100]…you get the idea.This indicates there’s 0.1 * 4,000,000 in every age group. I’ll assume people fit for military service are those between 18 and 30. (conservative estimate). If we assume a homogeneous distribution across each element in the set of {10 years}, there are 10% {21} + 1% {18} + 1%{19} + 1 %{20}. That’s 13% of 4,000,0000 = 520,000.

    We have 520,000 persons in that range (assuming an even split 260,000 males, 260,000 females). I don’t think any of those would object to someone’s enlistment in the Lebanese Army or think it’s “wrong”, but how come the Lebanese army doesn’t have that number of people or even half that number? Just because one isn’t in the army does not allow others to conclude he’s “deep down inside” against it.

    People don’t object to many things, but that doesn’t necessarily imply they should personally do these things to indicate their acceptance of them.

    I’m not against “civil marriage”, “gay marriage”, “smoking” , “drinking” , “tattoos”,….should I do all of those to prove my acceptance of them?

  23. Nicolas Sfeir says

    I see I have opened quite the Pandora’s box with my Lebanese kin.

    Claude Marcos, Carole, Charbel, RA, A, C.M. & Lea-K:

    First, your assumptions are equally as weak as your arguments. I am not a 40 year old man, who has never left his mountain village, as some have terribly guessed. I am a 26 year-old Lebanese who grew up moving between France, Africa, Lebanon and the US.

    Second, this wishful thinking that Lebanon is a liberal country would stand had Jackie Chamoun herself not admitted that “Lebanon is a conservative country”.

    Even Mr. Galey did not dispute the fact that Lebanon is a conservative country. He used the expression “deeply conservative”.

    Finally on to C.M.’s defense of Mr. Galey’s right to express his opinion on the Jackie debacle. It is almost needless to remind you that Mr. Galey is a journalist. And as such, he is in flagrant violation of a significant principle of journalistic professionalism: that of journalistic objectivity. In other words, his work should be confined to a balanced and nonpartisan reporting of the facts, conditions that he has failed to fulfill.

    His meddling in an internal Lebanese matter is equivalent to a stranger meddling in internal family affairs. That stranger would naturally be told to mind his own business.

    Come to think of it, Mr. Galey, you were right after all: the Lebanese never fail to outdumb themselves. Evidently, neither do Western-centric reporters.

    Checkmate, ladies & gentlemen.
    Nicolas.

    • patrickgaley says

      Mr Sfeir,

      1. Please do not misrepresent what I said. I said parts of Lebanese society were conservative. No matter how hard you try, I will refrain from the type of sweeping generalisations you seem intent on using. If this comment thread has shown nothing else, it is that multiple viewpoints, perspectives and value sets exist with Lebanese society. You may have your values; others have theirs. I think this is a good thing, though you may disagree.

      2. The inherent contradiction in your argument is that (you say) I am a foreigner and therefore cannot comment on Lebanese matters. Mr. Sfeir, I am a journalist who has lived in Lebanon for five years. It is my job to cover developments in Lebanon. You might even say it is my “business”. But let’s assume you deny me that position. If you do, then how is it your business to comment on the western media, since I infer you are neither a westerner, nor a reporter? If you’re saying I should mind my own business, at least have the fairness to reciprocate.

      3. I have a Lebanese girlfriend of four years. I am part of her family. Funnily enough, they never tell me to mind my own business. Nor to they claim to speak for an entire country which has demonstrably myriad views on all sorts of social issues.

      PG

    • Claude Marcos says

      “In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory…” – William Penn

      When your aim is skewed towards winning an argument, you stop listening to other people’s voices.

  24. R.A. says

    Jackie is not the person to determine whether a country is conservative or not. It’s a country’s ideology, history, etc… Check images, videos, movies from Lebanon dating back to 1960’s, and check for yourself. Jackie might say it’s “conservative” as a gesture of respect to the conservative percentage of it, but by all means, the majority of those I know are not in any way conservative people.

    P.S: Don’t say “checkmate” again. You’re far from being past move one.

  25. R.A. says

    With all due to respect to one’s potential, it will be a cold day in hell before Mr. Sfeir’s current ideas and opinions gain the traction, respect and popularity comparable to those of Chomsky’s. These are ideas a large portion of the Lebanese, the non-conservative ones, will never agree to live with. If he indeed have lived in the US in France (note: connection flights do not count), his ideas are not even mulled over in these areas of the world for they are a reminder of things the people of these nations have spent eras fighting to terminate. But then again, you can always count on Pierre’s vote in your lawsuit against freedoms of expression, not that you two will ever get anywhere with it.

  26. Pierre says

    R.A.

    Your post makes absolutely no sense. Again, RA, you seem to excel exclusively at the art of jingoism and empty chants. I suggest you stick to those. Indeed, your ventures outside those domains have ended in horrendous logical fallacies.In fact, nobody in this forum is arguing for or against freedom of expression. Your feeble mind (which is frightingly remiscent of Bush) continuously fails to comprehend that.
    Also, please note that conservatism in itself is a relative term. It is never defined in the absolute sense and, contrary to your narrow conception of it (which you evidently relate it to religious conservatism) can be a positive term.
    Family,work, and nationalism are, for instance, values that are embraced by conservatism.

  27. Pierre says

    R.A.

    Your post makes absolutely no sense. Again, RA, you seem to excel exclusively at slogans and chants. I suggest you stick to those. Indeed, your ventures outside those domains have ended in horrendous logical fallacies.In fact, nobody in this forum is arguing for or against freedom of expression. Your feeble mind (which is frightingly remiscent of Bush) continuously fails to comprehend that.
    Also, please note that conservatism in itself is a relative term. It is never defined in the absolute sense and, contrary to your narrow conception of it (which you evidently relate it to religious conservatism) can be a positive term.
    Family,work, and nationalism are, for instance, values that are embraced by conservatism.

  28. R.A. says

    I was going to refrain from answering for a while due to the extent of childishness in your response, but then I was worried that you’d assume that whatever you said made sense. I will attempt to school both of you in common sense (even when I have to come to a crossroad in my life where I believe that some people can’t be taught due to a lifetime of narrow thinking processes )

    First things first, I suggest you revisit your understanding of the term “logical fallacy” (they fall in multiple categories , for one); the number of fallacies I have relied upon in my discussion converges to 0. Let me give you an example of a logical fallacy so as to enlighten you on the appropriate usage of the terminology. For instance, when you assume that a person’s willingness to strip nude is the only acceptable “evidence” of his approval of the act is an example. That is either a lack of logic on your behalf, lack of education, lack of seriousness, or maybe just a lack of maturity. One does not have to perform every act which he approves of; accepting something and performing it are two distinct concepts. I am fine with people getting married under the roof of religion or that of the law, but whichever I pick is a matter of personal preference. One doesn’t necessarily have to strip in snow to prove to you that he’d be fine with him or anyone for that matter doing it.

    Second, you say, “family, work, and nationalism are, for instance, values that are embraced by conservatism.” So? The majority of political philosophies embrace these principles too; that’s not an argument that supports conservatism. (Note: the usage of the word “majority”) Just because conservatism embraces these principles does not imply that a whole country should embrace it too. Lebanon was never purely a conservative country and never will be; why? Because a whole portion of the population did not, do not, and will not agree to adopt conservatism. It’s just not the nature of all us to abide by these chains. You claim that you have never attacked the right to self-expression; well, some people express their beliefs by what they wear, others by what the say, some by what they do not say, and others by what do they not wear, etc. You have no right to impose your own preferences on a whole society.

    P.S: you said my mind is “feeble”; trust me, if it weren’t for my desire to stay out of any trouble in a country governed by gangs, I would have sent you a copy of my resume to shed the light on the size of the tragedy your mind would be in comparison. I am not an old person, I’m 27 years old. I have received my education at universities that would probably not even consider your application with scholarships that you might not dare dreaming of. I have 5-6 years of experience in firms that would not even look into your candidature. But, most importantly, I have reached a point of maturity where I know that one should not judge others by what they wear or what you do not wear. Once you have acquired the proper understanding of “freedom”, feel free to contact me, and we can move to a second lesson in “human rights”.

    • Pierre says

      Again, Mr. RA, confusion is rampant within your arguments. Allow me to shed light on that.
      -First, my previous argument relating to the willfulness of the Lebanese to strip naked was specifically targeted towards the #stripforjackie group and other similar social media pages. The PURPOSE of this page is to post nude pictures of one’s self in support of Jackie Chamoun’s actions. From the hundreds of pictures that have been posted already, I saw only one single picture of a topless woman. Therefore, Mr. RA, the PURPOSE of the group is not being fulfilled, indicating a clear unwillingness from the Lebanese contingent to pose naked.
      -Second, I challenge you, Mr. RA, to point out where, in my writings, do I impose my own “preferences on a the whole society”. Exactly… you can’t.
      -Third, Mr. RA, since you surprisingly seem to find no differences then between “conservatism” from “liberalism”, your whole argumentation from the top down, alas, fails.
      -Fourth, unlike you, and most Lebanese, who feel the need to brag about their supposed “accomplishments” in order to satisfy their ego and low self-esteem, I refrain from doing that.
      Indeed, Mr. RA, I don’t talk the talk, I walk the walk.
      Enough time has been wasted on this forum. I will now stop my participation in this forum as I have more important things to do in life.
      Cheers.
      Pierre

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