French President Emmanuel Macron says his goal is to “piss off” the unvaccinated members of society in hopes that the threat of additional restrictions will spur the unvaccinated into getting the jab. However, what was reported in English newspapers was mild compared to what he actually said in French, according to those who understand the language.
Details about Macron’s controversial speech first surfaced when The New York Times published a tweet reporting, “President Macron of France drew criticism over his comments about people who had refused coronavirus vaccines. ‘I really want to piss off the unvaccinated,’ he told the newspaper Le Parisien. ‘And so we are going to continue doing that, until the end.'”
The Times’ coverage was echoed by The Washington Post, which reported, “‘I am not for pissing off the French … however, the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,’ French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview.”
According to Politico Europe, the French president’s use of the term “piss off” raised discontent in France, noting that Macron is not the first French politician to use bad language. The publication pointed out that previous French presidents like Charles de Gaulle and Nicolas Sarkozy, were just as potty-mouthed.
Given the mild coverage of Macron’s speech, one might wonder what the French are so upset about. To that end, The Independent's Jon Stone says that much has been lost in translation.
“English language press grappling with reporting Macron saying he wants to ‘«Emmerder» the unvaccinated is quite funny. Most going with ‘piss off’ and others ‘hassle’… of course it literally means ‘to sh*t on,'” explained the reporter.
As detailed by the Associated Press, the French president used the vulgar word “emmerder,” which means to “sh*t on.”
More crucially, the French public is not upset at Macron for his use of vulgar language. Instead, they are outraged by his willingness to attack his own citizens for exercising their right to bodily autonomy. His words might be blunt, but his sentiments are even worse.
The immediate result of Macron’s speech was for his own parliament to shut down the debate on COVID-19.
Macron said he wanted to “piss off” unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting jabbed. He was speaking in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper in which he also called unvaccinated people irresponsible and unworthy of being considered citizens.
“A president cannot say such things,” Christian Jacob, chair of the conservative Les Republicans party, told parliament as it discussed a bill to make it mandatory for people to show proof of vaccination to enter many enclosed public spaces.
But spokesman Gabriel Attal said that, amid a “supersonic” rise in Covid cases, the government stood by Macron’s comments.