Ooh, I love me some Guerlain gossip. So Jean-Paul Guerlain was Guerlain’s perfumer from 1959 until 2002. He stayed on as an advisor to current Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser until 2010. In a 2010 televised interview, JPG said, “For once, I set out to work like a n*****. I don’t know if n*****s ever worked that hard.” As a result of this statement, he is now on trial for racist insults (which is indeed a crime in France). He faces up to 6 months in prison and a 22,500 euro fine. JPG has since made several apologetic statements, including “I come from another generation. It was a common expression at the time”, “My comments in no way reflect my true thinking, but were a slip of the tongue”, and “I am anything but racist”.
My take? I suspect that Jean-Paul Guerlain is a garden-variety racist. He would probably never participate in a physical hate crime, but he holds racist views. His comments most likely do indeed “reflect his true thinking”, which is that black people do not work as hard as white people. Jean-Paul Guerlain is 75, but after watching a few of his interviews, I see no signs of dementia. He is fully aware of his surroundings and has adapted in many ways to modern times (for example, he is responsible for perfumes such as Champs-Elysees, which are intended to appeal to more modern tastes). Additionally, whatever generation JPG may think that he comes from, there has never been a generation for which “n*****” was a particularly nice word. The notion that JPG was unaware that his words were offensive is laughable.
I say that Jean-Paul Guerlain is guilty of the crime of which he is accused. What do you think?