Jewish Journal

ON TRIAL: John Galliano’s sloshed defense over anti-Semitic remarks

Lauren Bottner

June 22, 2011 | 4:31 pm

If he walks like an anti-Semite, rants like an anti-Semite, looks like an anti-Semite, then maybe…

John Galliano, former Dior Fashion Designer, went on trial in Paris today for anti-Semitic and racist remarks to local café patrons earlier this spring. Charged with “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” on two alleged incidents in Oct. ’10 and Feb. ‘11, the now-apologetic Galliano could face up to 6 months in prison and a $32,000 fine.  After watching footage of a third incident where Galliano called a woman in a Parisian restaurant a “dirty Jew face” and on another occasion was caught on video verbally assaulting guests at a neighboring table:

I love Hitler. People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f———gassed”;

It’s a tad challenging to believe Galliano’s statement: “All my life I have fought against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself,” he said. “I do not have these views and I have never held them.”  Really? All evidence to the contrary!

Quick recap:
- Galliano spews drunken tirade at an unfortunate couple nearby in Paris’ La Perle: (sample:  “Dirty Jewish face…you should be dead,” he yelled at the woman—who reportedly turned out not to even be MOT—while insulting her thighs and eyebrows.  And “f—king Asian bastard,” he told the man, before threatening to murder him.” 
- The fashionista was suspended from Dior, and Galliano filed a defamation suit against the couple.
- “I Love Hitler” video surfaced, also filmed last year at La Perle, which kind of makes the whole defamation suit moot.  Seems he does a fine job of that all by himself!
- Natalie Portman takes a stand for her tribe: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video…and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”  Impressively following through on her threat, she changed her outfit for the Oscars that Sunday from a Dior dress to Rodarte.

At first Galliano denied the charges against him, claiming he was a victim of verbal harassment and unprovoked assault. But now comes an about-face, with an apologetic Galliano blaming a drug and alcohol addiction for his bad behavior. 

Will that defense actually work? His lawyers sure hope so.

To help his case, Galliano has spent the past 2 months in a U.S. rehab facility which will hopefully prevent a recurring tirade in court.

But the best line goes to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who, in reaction to the lawyer’s defense that he was intoxicated, said:

“Just as in the case of actor Mel Gibson, this argument does not wash.  There’s an old Yiddish proverb: Vos bei a nichteren oif dem lung, iz beim shikker oif der tsung - What a sober man thinks, a drunkard speaks.  A better defense would be, ‘I said it, I meant it, it won’t happen again, and I am truly sorry.’”

If Galliano does find himself behind bars, here’s one way to kill time: Learn Yiddish.

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Danielle Berrin writes the award-winning Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile...

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