‘I’m not sentencing you on the basis that you are anti-Semitic, I’m not sentencing you on the basis that you are a Holocaust denier,” said Westminster District judge Michael Snow, after doing exactly that.
This was Snow’s confusing message to 56-year-old Alison Chabloz, a political commentator who was dragged to court for stating that the Holocaust is an “eternal cash cow” on a podcast. She will be serving four and a half months in jail.
While Judge Snow has no legal basis for jailing a person specifically for comments critical of the Holocaust, he was able to exploit an open-ended and subjective “gross offense” law to punish Chabloz for comments questioning the Auschwitz gas chamber narrative and how the Jewish community uses the Holocaust story for political and financial gain.
The vaguely defined “gross offense” law is often exploited by political actors to suppress critics of privileged groups and powerful interests. A police officer is currently being tried in British court for the “gross offense” of sending a George Floyd joke in a private WhatsApp chat. Free speech in the United Kingdom is not a guaranteed right.
Snow’s treatment of Chabloz fits a pattern. Many believe the district judge is primarily concerned with being a thuggish proxy for the powerful rather than enforcing the law and protecting people’s rights.