Time Magazine Publishes Anti-French Slur

Can you imagine Time magazine publishing an article mentioning “Chinks”, “Gooks”, “Dagos”, “Wops”, “Crackers”, “Beaners”?  Of course not! Using slurs against ethnic or cultural minorities would be not only offensive, it would be immediately seized upon in the public, press and media in a firestorm of controversy, protests and finally public apologies.

But calling the French “Frogs” seems to be just fine for Bill Saporito, business editor of Time magazine. In a piece titled “How We Became the United States of France”, Saporito wallows in plenty a stereotype, buy they all pale in comparison with this blantant use of an ethnic/cultural slur.

“You just know the Frogs have only increased their disdain for us, if that is indeed possible. And why shouldn’t they?”

We believe this incident shows a complete lack of professionalism, a profoundly offensive use of an ethnic/cultural slur in a major American magazine. Even Bill O’Reilly and Jay Leno showed more respect for the French!

References: Time.com
Sources: Wikipedia (Ethnic slurs) – Wordie.com (Ethnic slurs)
Dictionary entries: 4. often capitalized usually offensive: frenchman (Merriam Webster)noun [C] UK OFFENSIVE a French person (Cambridge dictionary) – (often initial capital letter) Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. French or Frenchlike. (Dictionary.com)

Complaints (please remain polite and informative)
Letters to the editor: letters (at) time.com
Bill Saporito: bill_saporito (at) timemagazine.com (unverified)
Merci à D.B.

38 Replies to “Time Magazine Publishes Anti-French Slur”

  1. Hi Mark.

    I have to re-read this Time’s article but it semms to me to be mocking actuals critics of “French-socialism” (if such thing exist) by exagerating a lot… like :
    “We’ve always dismissed the French as exquisitely fed wards of their welfare state. They work, what, 27 hours in a good week, have 19 holidays a month, go on strike for two days and enjoy a glass of wine every day with lunch — except for the 25% of the population that works for the government, who have an even sweeter deal. They retire before their kids finish high school, and they don’t have to save for a $45,000-a-year college tuition because college is free. For this, they pay a tax rate of about 103%, and their labor laws are so restrictive that they haven’t had a net gain in jobs since Napoleon. There is no way that the French government can pay for this lifestyle forever, except that it somehow does.”

    no ?

  2. and from the comments on DIGG :

    “Mocking dickwad right-wingers is my favorite pastime—which is why I say: this article RULES.”

  3. peamak – granted. But does this make the slur acceptable ? If the other slurs I evoke are not acceptable then the same goes for “FROG” regardless of any other merits…

  4. We’re always in the same problem… this invented sentence for exemple “Those frogs are so arrogant they didn’t want to participate in our brillantly executed war in Irak !” I don’t find offensive… satire and irony are subtle and often use in english humour. Or Old Frog on superfrenchie doesn’t insult himself but plays with the “insult”.

    Ok, I may be all wrong but I really felt this article was actually on “our side”.

  5. I might be getting too old (?!) but I believe you can make a point without using a slur – Dictionaries, if they are to be believed in this post-Stephen Colbert world, are unanimous: the word is a slur.

    I understand the article was quite favorable to the French, but at what price. So far e-mail feedback has been pretty much divided between outrage and acceptance …

  6. Well, at least he’s right — we do have nothing but disdain for these American pillocks (and rightly so!)

    And I personally have nothinng but contempt for the likes of Time writers whose family name betrays an utter lack of taste…

  7. Just been to Digg…

    Kind of mindboggling — when you think that France is trying desperately to get out of the commanded economy sick bay, America which used to deride France for what the likes of Soporito called the sick man of Europe now finds itself the sick man of the world.

    Extraordinary reversal of fortunes. (Fall of the Roman Empire syndrome?)

  8. Loo,, the article was favorable, in the general sense of the article yes, and it was a good article, but had he written KIKE instead of FROGS, do you think his editors would leave it in? Write to him at [email protected] or [email protected]
    and ask him what his ethnic background is and ask him if a slur on his people is okay in TIME?
    Yes, the article was positive, but use of FROGS is unacceptable in print in TIME magazine, period. The man needs a dressing down! But first let’s ask him what he MEANT by that slur? Of course, he will say he was just being humorous, haha, and I see that. he was using the slur in an anti-slur way, that will be his defense. I am sure he is a good man, and meant no harm. But hey, when does this end? It must end with TIME magazine. letters go to
    [email protected]

  9. “You just know the [Kikes] have only increased their disdain for us, if that is indeed possible. ”

    Do you think that would pass the editors at TIME, even if meant in a humorous, ”hey some of my best friends are Jews” way?

    [email protected], [email protected]
    spelled his name wrong above, just one P
    with a sense of humor, yes, but hey, there’s a limit to slur words in print mags like TIME, no?

  10. Right on Danny – and thanks again for the heads up. I know we’re all very sensitive after years of French-Bashing, the crux of the matter remains : a slur was used, and no matter what the intentions were, it was wrong. It is not only wrong because he bashes the French, but because I believe French Bashing is the gateway to generalized prejudice aimed at other cultures and ethnicities.

  11. Btw, have just sent an e-mail to Saporito to say that his name calling wasn’t appreciated at all, but not at all, that he needn’t resort to such slur words targetting the French to spice his article.

  12. I question whether “Frog” is truly a slur. What about “Yank,” which, depending on the context, can be used either affectionately or derisively? English-speaking French people may even use the word to refer to themselves, jokingly, whereas this never happens for such bald slurs as kike, beaner, etc.

  13. What’s next? Levi’s running a “zipperhead” commerical…?

    I’m glad you caught this one Miquelon as many people will say there’s no issue here, but, there is-

    Publications such as TIME, as well as Fast Food Advertisers don’t get the fact that ‘skin color isn’t the only correlation to racially offensive remarks or portrayals.

    That’s why mostly ‘white’ populous of the French and Irish still get bashed. They think it’s acceptable, because we’re not ‘visible’ minorities.

    Hello Arby’s and your ‘Irish Jig Dancing Apes”…

  14. To support my point on racisim towards ‘non-visible minorities’

    Racism and Anti-Irish Prejudice in Victorian England

    I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw [in Ireland] . . . I don’t believe they are our fault. . . . But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not feel it so much. . . .” (Charles Kingsley in a letter to his wife, quoted in L.P. Curtis, Anglo-Saxons and Celts, p.84).


  15. jonnifer – That takes us back to the on going debate in the world of Rap Music – Should the N word be used at all, even by those who claim that by taking it back they are in fact fighting the prejudice that went along with it.

    I for one, do not believe this and wish that slurs be left out of journalistic pieces. We cannot let the world of journalism to sink to the level of stand up comedy.

  16. Marc:

    I agree with you on the slur. It has no place in a mag like Time and should be reserved for the likes of Frogsmoke or ff.com. But on balance, if all French-bashing were like that, I imagine neither you nor I would complain much.

  17. #22
    You’re not comparing frogsmoke with ff.com, I hope.  Because Bremner’s blog, as far as French-bashing is concerned, is much more troubling.

    And yes I believe “frog” to be highly offensive. But it’s been used so much for so long without next to no outrage from French people that it’s pretty much a lost cause.

  18. I have read these articles, but I don’t think it is anti-French. It is of course superficial (like anything published by this magazine), and even unaccurate (in my view) but the use of the word “frog” is partially a QUOTATION. The author quotes in fact the common language as used by the mainstream American ans doesn’t assume it completely.  

  19. Off topic but I stumbled onto a pretty weird but nonetheless virulent anti-French blog

    Apparently, the guy is such a hateful bigot (the tone of his blog leaves no doubts as to his true intentions) that he created a blog for the sole purpose of gloating at the supposed decline of the French language worlwide.
    And he’s pretty dedicated too since his site seems to be updated pretty regurarly.

    Featured on this site are such riveting topics as: “the decline of French in Vanuatu”

    Another bigot to add to a a long list…

  20. Barney #25 – Perhaps the bigot doesn’t know, but when 10 French soldiers were killed recently in a Taliban ambush in A-stan, that was 10 less people speaking French in the world.  He must be very happy.

  21. I found the article deeply offensive. The slur stands out because it has a direct analog in Chink/Nigger/Kike and the like, but really: the whole article is pieced together from the scum of U.S. French-bashing. I might recognize in it a caricature of France (although with this many distortions and misapprehensions, even that was hard to do) — but I know that many Americans will find it “truthful”. The editors of Time magazine should be ashamed to have published it.

  22. Hello Marc,

    I am always on your side. This time I must say that this article is quite good and if the journalist uses the word “frog” it’s to enhance the sarcasm. This piece could have been written for Stephen Colbert and Mr. Saporito went far with the comparison but as far as I can tell the article touches on all the sensitive subjects and make very valid comparisons. The only one missing is about what we call “SECURITE SOCIALE” or socialized medecine (when you want to scare people off)…the French have it and the American are far from having it. I am more upset when I watch a debate with Sarah Palin talking about Democrats wanting to “wave the white flag of surrender in Iraq” because I know she is just “that” far from calling Joe Biden a French and that is really insulting because she takes in all the lies and the racism and glorifies herself and her supporters as true patriots fighting those Frenchified liberals. I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of “frog” just like we call the Brits “Rosbif”…I can live with that. 

  23. Frankly, I doubt we would have come up with rossbif if they hadn’t called us frogs to begin with.

  24. Maybe, but I don’t think the English would have steeped so low as to call a woman’s “time of the month” “the French”. (Makes us wonder what Paul Revere meant when he did his famous ride).

  25. Mr. Saporito has exagerated too much once too often, considering the state of affairs in the USA.  Although the website is usually dedicated to timeless philosophy, a refreshing post claiming a “Droit de réponse aux américains” to these declarations appears in the blog (French and English version), with the sub-title: “You dreamed you were the flagship of the free world, you are only its Titanic“.
    The general idea might be that the former bashers are in such a mess that their arrogance, always misplaced, is now grotesque. We are in a good position to sound the counter-attack. With one proviso: we shall never indulge into the same foul manners, not our style!  We must be as usual, much more educated and controled in the surface -we must accept the risk that they do not understand that they are bashed – and hard but fair in the substance. 

    I am delighted to invite you to a visit and if you feel like it, please, invite your friends. 

    “Attaquem, attaquem”, Foch, 1917. 

    With king regards to all of those who have been on watch at the outpost for a long time,  reinforcement is coming. 


  26. I’ve read this article and I found it brilliant.
    It’s very subtle, very ironic and it’s a strong critic of the us system rather that the french one.
    Irony at its best.
    It needs some knowledge and some intellectual skills to go over the first level of reading, and I think some of the offended readers her did not find the seconde level of reading that was mandatory to fully understand the hidden message.

    BTW, I’m french, and I do not find any thing offending in being called Frog.

  27. “BTW, I’m french, and I do not find any thing offending in being called Frog.”

    You should.
    While I agree that this particular article was done in an ironic kind of way (everyone got that by the way , no need to insult our intellectual skills) the term “frog” is usually meant to offend.
    As is the term “wop” for Italian-Americans or he term “kraut” for german people and many others. These terms all belong to the lexical field of ethnic slurs and xenophobia.

    See  wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs

  28. “BTW, I’m french, and I do not find any thing offending in being called Frog.”

    You should.
    While I agree that this particular article was done in an ironic kind of way (everyone got that by the way , no need to insult our intellectual skills) the term “frog” is usually meant to offend.
    As is the term “wop” for Italian-Americans or he term “kraut” for german people and many others. These terms all belong to the lexical field of ethnic slurs and xenophobia.

    See wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs

  29. @Barney. According to WP, the meaning of “frog” changed over time. If I am offended by something whose meaning changes, as we say in french, “we are not out of the auberge”. I really beleive that the one being really insulted when it comes to reducing one person to its origin, is the one that says it.
    If your last argument against someone you’re talking to is: “You can’t be right, your’re a frog (or whatever other slur word)” it really means that either your point is very weak, or you haven’t had any argument at all.

    And if you’re talking in a friendly way with someone calling me “Frog”, there is really no reason feeling offended.

    So to me, in both case, I do not find it offending at all.
    But I may of course be overoptimistic 😉

  30. I am very surprised: “frog” as such is no longer a problem, we should not have tolerated it many, many years ago! My concern is that nobody reacts to the sentence which is really offending in my reading:  “Put it all together, and the America that emerges is a cartoonish version of the country most despised by red-meat red-state patriots: France. Only with worse food.”

    Mr Saporito by himself is so clever as to abracadabra  the words, illusionists of all countries, of course! No, the problem I wish to emphasize  is that if  Mr Saporito feels that he can use such a word, which in all cases is insulting, whatever be the second and third meaning, he knows that he has what we call a “marge de manoeuvre” as the US patriots, i.e. a few tens of million people will lol (laugh out loudly) for a few tens of lost French men who will protest (and they even may not!). This is pure demagogy. We should stand up and avoid the same mistake as with tolerating “frog” with the word “despise”: insulting is never acceptable, even for and all the more for brilliant minds.
    By the way, I did not realize that the article to which I refer does not appear:

    You wil see better what I mean.



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