Ghoulish French Mayor Makes Posters About A Woman's Murder To Get High-Speed Rail To His City

Illustration for article titled Ghoulish French Mayor Makes Posters About A Woman's Murder To Get High-Speed Rail To His City

I really don’t understand how some people end up in politics. Sometimes you see decisions made that are so idiotic, so destructive, and just so wrong that is makes you wonder how the people behind them could even get elected to clean a toilet. This time, I’m specifically baffled by the mayor of the French city of Béziers, and his decision to use the theme of a woman about to be murdered as a way to promote a high-speed rail line to the city.

The mayor of Béziers (population, about 75,000) is Robert Ménard, likely the most powerful far-right mayor in all of France. The campaign for the TGV (the French initials that mean ‘high-speed train’) line to Béziers involved the use of this poster:


So, the big text on the poster translates to “With the TGV (High-Speed Trains) she would have suffered less!” At this point, any rational person should be cocking their head to the side like a dog shown a fidget spinner as your inner monologue tries to make sense of this.

Is this poster suggesting that a good argument for high-speed rail is that a woman tied to the tracks will be in less prolonged agony when a 200 mph train tri-sects her into thirds as opposed to, say, a 90 mph or so? Are they serious with this shit?

This was the most convincing argument they could come up with? Not convenience, not short travel time to other cities, not benefits to local commerce, but a stupid joke (?) about the brutal murder of a person, who they show, right there on the poster, screaming in terror moments before her life will end?

Good work, fellas. Bang-up job.

I’m sure everyone in the city who was on the fence about the TGV coming to town will just flip right over to the oui column once they’re reminded of the murderous potential of trains.


You’d think this would be bad enough as it is, a reference to an old Snidely Whiplash-era trope about murdering women via rail. But it’s not. It’s worse.

It’s worse because, earlier this year, a woman actually was murdered by a train running over her, when her estranged husband bound her to the tracks in a ghastly murder-suicide. This murder-by-train happened about six hours away from Béziers, and made national news in France; there’s no way Ménard or any of the many, many other people involved in this shitshow wouldn’t have known about it.


Just to add some shit icing to this whole merde éclair is the fact that the woman actually was run over by a TGV high-speed train, and I’m pretty damn sure the extra speed didn’t make the experience any better.

Ménard has attempted to defend the use of the poster on Twitter, with the usual lame attempts. Like the “it’s just a joke, people! Lighten up!” tactic:


(Translation: The outrageous and paranoid reactions to our poster speak volumes about the moral order that plagues the country. The same would have burned # Johnny in 1960, # Charlie Hebdo in 1970 or # Gainsbourg in 1980. Worryingly. ..)

I think the argument would be better if it A. Was actually funny, B. Wasn’t based on a standard setup from the 1880s, and C. Wasn’t a direct mirror for an awful thing that happened this year that they really, really should have known about, dummies.


Oh, and D. Was actually effective in any freaking way at all whatsoever at convincing people they need a TGV stop in town.

He also tries the shame-on-you-for-pointing-out-the-obvious tack:


(Translation: I am ashamed for @ laurossignol who dares to mix a victim of a horrible news with our campaign. .. # Béziers # TGV)

Dumbass, it’s literally the exact same situation as how that woman was murdered. This isn’t a stretch.


And then he’s all, screw it, and just goes for the personal attack:


(Translation: If on the next poster we put @ jmaphatie , I specify right now: it will not be to make fun of the simple-minded.)

Pretty clumsy burn, dude.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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Just Jeepin'

99% of the time, when your defense is “Can’t you take a joke?” you’ve gone wrong somewhere.