"A French court has found fashion designer John Galliano guilty of anti-Semitic behavior in two complaints.
He could have been sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail. Instead, Galliano was fined 6,000 euros ($8,400), though the fines were suspended.
The former Dior designer was charged in connection with incidents in October, where he was accused of verbally abusing an English language teacher at Cafe La Perle in Paris, and in March where he ranted at a couple at the same restaurant.
Galliano swiftly fell from fashion’s highest ranks after a video of a third tirade at La Perle appeared on the website of the British tabloid The Sun in February. In the video, Galliano – apparently intoxicated – declares to the bar’s patrons, “I love Hitler,” says that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.”
Even the fines were suspended so he got off with no penalty. So in France you have free speech by default: Racist speech is illegal but the penalties are so light that they are no deterrent.
Both Brigitte Bardot and Jean-Marie Le Pen have taken advantage of that. They have been repeatedly taken to court for criticizing Muslims but the small fines they get do nothing to stop them doing the same thing all over again.
In Britain and America, if you get caught out in some "incorrect" action the penalties can be severe (a Brit holocaust-denier got 4 years jail, for instance) so the French system has something to be said for it.