On Monday evening, hours after the show, LCI fired Mr. Finkielkraut, a writer and essayist, from his position as a commentator, saying it “condemned” his words while supporting “respectful and reasoned debate.”
In a telephone interview, Mr. Finkielkraut said he had filed suit against LCI for defamation and wrongful termination of his contract. “Pedophilia revolts me,” he said. “My purpose was not to deny the crime, which I denounced emphatically, but to specify the crime. To find out the facts of what actually happened. But it seems that in such cases examination of the facts is viewed as a form of indulgence of the crime.”
It was the latest in a number of cases in which a generation shaped by the anything-goes sexual liberation of May 1968 has confronted a contemporary culture that recognizes and condemns predatory male sexual behavior.
In 1977, several leading intellectuals and writers — including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Roland Barthes, Jack Lang, and Louis Aragon — signed a letter in the daily newspaper Le Monde defending three men imprisoned for three years for having sexual relations with minors aged 15. They wrote that the adolescents had described the acts as consensual and deplored the gulf between “an obsolete law and the daily reality of a society beginning to recognize the existence of the sexual life of children and adolescents.”
“Three years of prison for caresses and kisses, that’s enough,” they added.
In a book called “La familia grande,” Camille Kouchner accused Mr. Duhamel, who headed the body overseeing Sciences Po University in Paris, of persistently abusing her twin brother, starting when he was 14. The French public prosecutor has opened an investigation. Elisabeth Guigou, a former minister of justice, resigned today as the head of an independent commission into the prevalence of incest in France, after being identified as a friend of Mr. Duhamel.