March 02, 2011

I detest anti-Semites more than most, probably

... but being arrested and standing trial for making anti-Semitic remarks? Sorry, that's just stupid. Once again, thank goodness for our [American] First Amendment:

John Galliano has been ordered to stand trial on charges related to anti-Semitic remarks he's alleged to have made at a Paris restaurant last week, French prosecutors said Wednesday, even as the 50-year-old designer spoke out for the first time about recent events.

Suspended by fashion house Dior in the wake of a Thursday altercation in which anti-Semitic and anti-Asian remarks and threats of violence were alleged, Galliano was fired Tuesday after a 2010 video surfaced Monday in which the designer was saying, among other things, "I love Hitler."

Dior fragrance spokesmodel Natalie Portman, who won a best actress Oscar on Sunday, said Monday that "as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way." (Link.)

And that's how it should be. You shouldn't battle asinine, insensitive hate speech with arrests, fines and jail time. (In France, anti-Semitic remarks can get you "up to six months in prison and more than $30,000 in fines.") You do it like Ms. Portman, via ostracism -- shunning, whether it be social, economic or ... more speech. Because once you start making some insensitive -- or "hate" -- speech illegal, what's to stop the powers that be from making some other words or phrases illegal?

Again, the old adage works perfectly well: Fight speech ... with more speech. Countries without a First Amendment analogue would do well to heed that -- if they believe in freedom.

UPDATE: Case in point -- today's 8-1 Supreme Court decision in favor of the vile Westboro Baptist Church a-holes:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that when the disputed words "address matters of public import on public property" and when the protest is conducted "in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials," they are protected.

Roberts cited past rulings that shielded offensive words and outrageous protests.

He pointed to the decision that freed protesters who burned the American flag and another that protected a Hustler magazine satirist who portrayed the Rev. Jerry Falwell in an outhouse. Last year, Roberts spoke for the court in striking down on free-speech grounds a law that made it crime to sell videos of illegal dog-fighting.

The "bedrock principle underlying the 1st Amendment," Roberts said in quoting the flag-burning ruling by the late liberal Justice William J. Brennan Jr., "is that the government cannot punish words or ideas "simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

Indeed. And Bill O'Reilly just argued (quite futilely, in my opinion) in favor of Justice Samuel Alito's lone dissent, which said in part "... that the father of the dead Marine who sued the protesters was 'not a public figure' who could be expected to tolerate such an onslaught, but a private person who sought to 'bury his son in peace.'" But O'Reilly counterpoint Megan Kelly correctly noted that the Westboro goons were at least 1,000 feet away and were protesting a matter of "public import," in this case gays (in American society).

Posted by Hube at March 2, 2011 05:59 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I don't know. Europeans tend to be easily led. They've given us any number of dictators in the last 70 years or so. Frankly, any law that quiets people in France from talking is probably for the best.

Posted by: Duffy at March 2, 2011 06:03 PM

LOL ... I appreciate that sentiment, Duff.

Posted by: Hube at March 2, 2011 06:08 PM