Jean-Paul Marat 1789

Jews, Executioners, and Actors

Source: L'Ami du Peuple, No. 77, December 25, 1789;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

Debates on the eligibility of Protestants, Actors, Jews and the Executioner for civil and political assemblies...

...I don’t have the strength to make any observations on the puerile objects with which the National Assembly occupies itself at this moment, when objects of great importance call for its attention. I have even less strength to speak about the monstrous assemblage it made of members who are not eligible for civil and political assemblies.

That which M. l'Abbé Maury has never said anything that was more sensible than his condemnation of the executor of justice; and he has never said anything as profound as in his speech against the Jews; he has never said anything as ridiculous as in his speech in condemnation of actors. Let us forget the executioner. Should such a being occupy the work of the Assembly for even one instant? Should his name even be pronounced? As for the Jews, even if it doesn’t appear that they are going to take up the diverse employments of society, this is not a reason to exclude them. As for actors, the question agitated concerning them only proves the barbarity of our prejudices. They are reproached for the irregularity of their morals. This reproach is laughable when we examine those of their censors. It is a fact that comedians have more sensibility, more delicacy of feeling than most men, fruit of a more careful education. But without exaggerating anything, we don’t fear saying that their morals are those of the century. The least well-bred actor is worth as much as a courtier, and the gayest actress is worth as much as a trollop of the court. And in any case, what could be more ridiculous than to hear a man of the world, an abbot, a prelate, after leaving the arms of an adulterous woman, declaim against the morals of actors! Will we always be barbarians? Will we always be children? Will stupid prejudices always be the rule in our speeches?