Communiqué of the Freudian Field, January 16, 2012
E. Roudinesco and "Seuil" convicted of defamation
Elisabeth Roudinesco and Seuil were convicted of libel by the 17th chamber of the High Court of Paris, in their respective capacities of author and publisher of the book, 'Lacan, against all odds'.
This book alleged that in fact the last will of Lacan concerning his funeral was not met: "Although he (Lacan) expressed the wish to end his days in Italy, in Rome or in Venice and would have wished for a Catholic funeral, he was buried without ceremony and in the privacy of the cemetery of Guitrancourt." As a result, Judith Miller, daughter of Jacques Lacan, who took care of his funeral, considered herself defamed.
In his judgment, delivered on the 11th of January, the judge admitted the defamatory character of the remarks and rejected the defendants' explanations:
"By its lapidary formulation, its construction and the words used, the sentence: "While (…) he would have wished for a Catholic funeral, he was buried without ceremony and in the privacy of the cemetery Guitrancourt", cannot in any way be interpreted as an expression of "a point of view", or a "hypothesis", even if "reasonable", for showing up a "paradox", a mere "wish attributed to Lacan (…)", a "dream" of "great Catholic funerals" that Jacques Lacan "one day" uttered "with bravado". "This phrase" by its brevity, its composition and the opposition on which it is built between the wish expressed by Jacques Lacan, presented as a certain and objective fact, and the opposing reality of the funeral", meaning that "a wish of Jacques Lacan was not respected by those in charge of organising the funeral."
The court then considered whether the author of the incriminating words could take advantage of her good faith. He has found that in 1993, E. Roudinesco had raised the same question in the following terms: "Lacan was an atheist, though, out of bravado, he had once dreamed of great Catholic funerals". This formulation, said the court, "should not in any way be confused with the statement, as concise and as conclusive, that is subject to these proceedings". Considering the fact that the author "did not have a serious piece of information to support her" on her remarks, the court concluded that "the benefit of good faith cannot be granted to E. Roudinesco".
The author and editor were sentenced to pay one euro in damages to Judith Miller, and 6000 euros for legal costs.