The lawyer representing a student who attends Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., now under investigation by the school for anti-Semitic comments he made in a video praising the Holocaust, said the clip was meant to be satirical, the local news station ABC27 reported on Wednesday.

Dressed formally in a suit, junior Shane Shuma lists multiple reasons why the Holocaust was “a good thing” and notes “official SS statistics,” such as “96 percent of Germans said that it made their lives much more positive.”

“One of them is, ‘the Holocaust is a good thing because you can’t have racism if you only have one race,’ I mean … the target of the jokes were anti-Semites,” said Shuma’s lawyer Samantha Harris, who is Jewish, noting that her client said those lines as part of a friend’s film project when he was 16. (The cameraman can be heard laughing in the background.)

“We are now living in a climate where we are all judged based on our worst decisions, our dumbest decisions, our worst moments, sometimes when we are children,” she added.

Harris cited free speech, particularly satire, in defense of her client.

“There is this conflating of speech with violence. You know, the idea that somebody telling a joke or saying something that hurts someone’s feelings is actually tantamount to a threat to their safety,” she explained. “Such that, being in their presence someone—you know, that emotional safety and physical safety are the same thing, and that we are all somehow entitled to emotional safety and comfort at all times.”

Since the video was uploaded on YouTube in January by an unidentified source, Shuma says he lost his job, had his home vandalized and been banned from some student projects, Harris told ABC27.

However, the TV report also noted that Shuma has been known to write “inflammatory articles” for the school paper.


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