You Can't Escape Recorded Bigotry, Part 2

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
March 1 2011 10:50 AM

You Can't Escape Recorded Bigotry, Part 2

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On Friday I argued that Charlie Sheen is finally being punished for his erratic behavior because his anti-Semitic remarks were broadcast on a radio program for the world to hear. It's one thing to read rumors of a star's awfulness-it's quite another to listen to incontrovertible proof of it. Mere days later, Dior designer John Galliano is in the process of getting canned for a similar infraction: His drunken, anti-Semitic tirade was caught on video . In an altercation at a Paris bar, the designer said things like "I love Hitler," and "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f**king gassed." The Web site Fashionista is hearing rumors that, like Sheen, Galliano's drinking and off-color comments have been a problem for some time .

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As Foreign Policy points out in an article about the fashion industry's bumbling treatment of global issues , Galliano has been taken to task for insensitivity before-though not on this level. A Galliano spring collection from 2000 including dresses made from newspaper, which were supposedly inspired by the homeless in Paris, was sent up in the movie Zoolander -the evil fashion designer Mugatu designs a similar collection called Derelicte. Though it's not exactly the same thing, fashion doesn't have a great track record when dealing with racial issues, either, which Robin Givhan noted in New York Magazine last month . Not everyone immediately condemned Galliano's anti-Semitic rant, and Vogue Italia went so far as to suggest the designer was the victim of a setup .

Given fashion's complicated recent history with thorny matters like this, it's heartening that Galliano was dismissed quickly from Dior . The company simply can't ignore the sound of its designer's ugly words when they're all over the Internet.

Photograph of John Galliano by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.