Designer Galliano On Trial For Bad Language

We have been following the case of fashion designer John Galliano who went on trial Wednesday for making anti-Semitic comments in Paris. It is part of the growing trend in the West of the criminalization of speech. It is not clear what came off more pathetic yesterday, the drug-wasted Galliano or the French court.

In her comments in open court, Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read out a list of the bad words used by Galliano to Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgitti: “He said ‘dirty whore’ at least a thousand times.” Sacrebleu! It appears that saying “dirty whore” will land you in a French court.

Obviously, the most offensive terms were anti-Semitic. However, it represents another case of Western governments enforcing speech codes with criminal law. I am not even sure of how “dirty whore” fits into Judge Sauteraud’s analysis, but it appears also to be a basis for judicial review in France.

For his party, Galliano testified that he had no memory of making the comments. It sounded a bit like a McCarthy hearing with a Fellinesque twist. I was waiting for “Have you ever used ‘filthy whore’ in conversation? Can you deny using such words?”

Galliano explained that he has a drug addiction and little memory of most anything.

I find that believable but it should not be relevant because this entire proceeding is an insult to free speech. If Judge Sauteraud wishes to be part of the language police, she should teach in an elementary school.

As previously discussed in a column and a line of blog stories (here and here and here and here), various Western governments have been curtailing free speech by prosecuting blasphemy and speech against various groups. Once again, I find the failure of the French to denounce these prosecutions to be distressing given that country’s long and proud history in recognizing basic civil liberties. This follows the perfectly absurd case against Google. Civil libertarians need to focus on this international trend and educate people was to the threat to free speech in the free world.

Source: CNN

Jonathan Turley

10 thoughts on “Designer Galliano On Trial For Bad Language

  1. Well…what if its true….is that not a defense….But…if memory serves me correctly, truth is not a defense to hate crimes….

  2. Europe, Canada, and much of the rest of the world quit offering free speech a very long time ago.

    US has been the only place with free speech and sadly we are starting to follow the rest of the world by gutting out such a basic human right.

    Very very sad.

    People have to understand that objectionable speech, offensive speech is exactly what makes freedom of speech laws required. You don’t need free speech to say nice flowery speech.

    Their argument against free speech falls apart when it is only certain arbitrary groups that are protected from being made to feel bad. If you say “deport all gypsies” your ass will be in jail in many parts of the world. If you say “the holocaust never happened” your ass will be in jail in many parts of the world. If you say “deport all obese people”, if you say “we never landed on the moon” even in Europe you won’t face jail.

  3. As a Jew I’ve got a stake in this game. I am against such speech restrictions since they are only palliative and don’t get at the real problem. I would much prefer people who hate Jews, or have other prejudices, to be out in the open, rather than hide behind code. It is better to know, rather to only suspect, who one’s enemies are. When Mel Gibson’s anti-Jewish feelings came out, I stopped watching his movies and I had been a big fan. Galliano’s rant will provide its own punishment, no legal action is needed, or appropriate.

    The most important aspect of this is of course the “slippery slope” and who gets to be the censor. Free speech is far too precious to
    leave it to the arbitrary decisions of law enforcement and the grandstanding of politicians.

  4. Can Galliano negotiate a plea deal by promising to provide the court with the names of other individuals who also use offensive words?

  5. Mike,

    Tongue in cheek…but wasn’t that the WAPS that did that…..ok…I am ready for the onslaught….

  6. “but wasn’t that the WAPS that did that”


    Possibly not onslaught, but worse. Have you mispelled a racial slur towards Italian Americans, if so they have their ways of dealing with these things. Best case scenario is that you misspelled an acronym for White Americans of a certain background, since that is a less loaded pjerorative.

  7. ” “He said ‘dirty whore’ at least a thousand times.” ”

    A thousand? Really?

    And the judge actually said that?

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