According to the Twitters, John Galliano's hate crimes trial in Paris is ending. The ex-Dior designer was just asked by the presiding judge if he had any final thoughts.
Apparently, he responded with a rambling paean to cultural diversity, recalling his birth in Gibraltar, his Spanish mother, his homosexuality, and his world travels. "I have lived with Masai tribes, I have friends who are Shaolin monks," he said, adding that if anyone looks at his work, they can see he embraces every creed and celebrates cultural diversity.
Ah, the little-known Shaolin monks defense. (Galliano flew a dozen of the monks to Paris to perform in his spring-summer 2003 couture show.) We'll see how this works out for him. A judgment is not expected until the fall. In France, making anti-Semitic, racist, or sexist insults in a public place is not protected speech — it's a legally actionable hate crime. If convicted, Galliano could face a fine of up to €22,500 and seven months in prison, though in practice, custodial sentences are rarely imposed.
At the trial, two of Galliano's accusers testified that the designer insulted them using anti-Semitic and racist slurs. One, an art curator named Géraldine Bloch who is seeking €1 in damages, testified that Galliano even told her, "I'm going to call Sarkozy and Carla, and you will disappear."
Numerous witnesses testified — it would seem that just about every single person who'd been present at the bar while the 45-minute disagreement went down was called to the stand. Bloch said that they were told to leave the bar if they weren't getting along with Galliano, because he was friends with the owner; the bar owner then took the stand to claim that he wasn't Galliano's friend and that the designer only drank there about twice a year. There was an English teacher who testified that she hadn't heard Galliano use any anti-Semitic insults, but did hear him tell the second plaintiff, Philippe Virgitti, "don't touch me you and your fucking Asian family." The same witness also wondered aloud why Bloch and Virgitti, in the middle of their dispute with Galliano, ordered another round of drinks. "Perhaps they wanted it to continue?" There was a fashion student, who testified for the defense that Bloch incited Galliano's ire by speaking loudly about how ugly he was. Virgitti admitted that he initially mistook Galliano, who was sitting at a table on the bar's terrace, for a homeless person.
Virgitti testified that Galliano called Bloch some variation on "Jewish whore," "Jewish bitch," "dirty Jew face," etc., at least ten times. Bloch said it had been more like 40 times. Virgitti, who is seeking €220,000 in damages, said he initially withdrew his police complaint because "I was scared, we were being insulted by millions of people on the Internet. But then I thought it over, and I decided to continue with the complaint." Bloch spoke of being "hounded" by journalists and being followed in the street. When asked by the judge why other witnesses testified they hadn't heard Galliano make any anti-Semitic insults, she replied, "I'm astonished. Those were the things he was saying the most of all."
Galliano himself spoke extensively about his "triple addictions" — to sleeping pills, alcohol, and Valium. He testified in English, and there were lots of problems with the interpreter, who mis-translated several of Galliano's statements, and often corrected herself. (The judge eventually excused her, leaving Galliano's lawyer to interpret. Galliano told the court he was capable of understanding the proceedings.) He said he currently has no occupation, and, after two months of detox and in-patient rehab treatment, is in a day program for drug addicts and alcoholics. The designer, who said that it was just "a shell of John Galliano" who was caught on video praising Hitler, also apologized for all the pain his statements have caused.