Sunday, April 13, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: José Bové

José Bové (b. 1953)

José Bové is a French farmer and political activist who ran for President of France in 2007.

He was born in France but grew up in many places, including spending some time in the United States as a child. He attended a Jesuit school in France but was expelled because of his opinions regarding drugs. He fled France to avoid serving in the French army (and what can I possibly add to that?).

He is an opponent of globalization except when he's not. That is, he is not opposed to the existence of the World Trade Organization, he just doesn't like their current rules. (Yes, I'm editorializing here). He is also a prominent opponent of genetically engineered crops. In 2003 he spent seven months in prison for his part in destroying some transgenic crops.

After the European Union restricted the importation of hormone-treated beef from the United States, the U.S. retaliated by imposing tariffs on imported Roquefort cheese (that'll learn 'em). Bové subsequently, and successfully, smuggled 30 kilos of Roquefort into the U.S. in his luggage.

Bové is the kind of guy some people love to love, and a lot of other people love to hate. For example, he publicly stated that he believed a series of attacks on French synagogues was being arranged by the Israeli secret service to create sympathy for Jews. He also took part in "dismantling" (that is, tearing down) a McDonald's in France, for which he also served prison time. He is also a syndicalist, or a socialist who denies being a socialist (more editorializing).

In 2006, he attempted to enter the United States and was turned back because of his spotty legal record elsewhere in the world.

Do an image search for Bové and you will see that his pipe has become an integral part of his image and personality, as in the images above and below.

A note for all my European readers: Bové is not even a blip on the radar of American mainstream media, so everything I know about him I learned from the internet. Feel free to clarify any of the above statements in comments.

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