Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Further on freedom

What do David Irving and Stephen Gough have in common?

Both should never have been jailed... The best way of dealing with Holocaust deniers is demolish their arguments. The best way of dealing with naked ramblers is probably to admire their courage (and their frostbite) since it's February.


  • At 12:33 pm , Blogger Wallyxab said...

    Holocaust deniers are the same (objectively) as people who claim the earth is flat. Not a matter of opinion, like the existence of God, but objectively wrong. Should he be locked up for it? Of course not - it makes him more of a martyr than any good it does. And the speech was 17 years ago! Is it wrong in principle? Yes - people who are wrong should be confronted with the facts, not slammed in clink.

    It is perhaps understandable why denial is a crime in Austria, given its Nazi past, but that doesn't make imprisonment right.

  • At 12:37 pm , Blogger Chris Palmer said...

    I wonder. I have never studied the so called Jewish Holocaust in any great deal, and neither have many other people - and yet, most people take it as given fact that such religious genocide did indeed take place.

  • At 12:56 pm , Blogger Femme de Resistance said...

    People take loads of stuff for granted, e.g. the earth is a sphere. I think with the Holocaust it was so terrible (they pretty much had a Fordist-type mass killing operation) that people feel wrong asking questions about it.

    Without even trotting out the usual free speech arguments, I find this Austrian legislation odd. Making Holocaust denial a crime singles out one atrocity, whereas many millions also died at the hands of Stalin and Mao. It seems rather peculiar and also seems to disrespect the families of all those others who have lost people, etc. in various genocides.

  • At 8:32 pm , Blogger Angus J Huck said...

    Before he became Prime Minister, Tony Blair toyed with the idea of making "holocaust denial" a crime, but wiser counsels prevailed.

    Two rather obvious, and I consider insuperable, difficulties present themselves.

    Firstly, what amounts to "holocaust denial"? Should it be a crime to claim that only 4 million died (rather than 6)? Should it be a crime to compare the genocide of the European Jews with the mass killing of Armenians, Russians, Rwandans, etc? Should it be a crime to deny the uniqueness of Jewish suffering? Should it be a crime to criticise Israel? The criminalisation of so-called "holocaust denial" would inevitably lead to the chilling of genuine academic debate and inquiry.

    Secondly, singling out one section of the community for special treatment is bound to generate resentment in the wider population. It is likely to give the impression that the Jewish community exercises insidious influence in the body politic. Relations between British Jews and the wider community could be put back 70 years (to the days of Oswald Mosley).

    Freedom of speech means the right to be wrong.

    I would accord to Irving the same right to talk rubbish (and falsify history) as I would accord to David Cesarani, Eli Wiesel and other Judaeo-centrist ideologues.

  • At 11:17 pm , Blogger Biscit said...

    It is seen tasteless in some circles to observe that the Holocaust while predominately a Jewish tragedy was not exlclusively a Jewish tragedy.

    C.F. people making out people attempting to commemerate gay holocaust victims are hijacking the holocaust from the jews.

  • At 2:43 pm , Blogger Iain said...

    Irving's conviction and imprisonment is justified and right.

    Although in this country we have no law outlawing holocaust denial, we do have laws against inciting racial hatred which hardly anyone in the political mainstream believe should be repealed.

    Irving is not simply outlining an opinion or legitimate argument but deliberately trying to incite hatred of Jews by trying to wipe the historical fact of the holocaust from the historical record. Why else would he want to do this?

    He is not a historian but a proven liar and falsifier. There is plenty of real debate among genuine historians about the holocaust.

    Whether or not David Cesarani is an ideologue, he is a professional historian who abides by scholarly standards and does not use his work to promote hatred of a particular racial group.

    For more on this see my blog at http://eatenbymissionaries.blogspot.com/

  • At 9:51 pm , Blogger Angus J Huck said...

    What makes Cesarani a "professional historian"? Is it the fact that he is employed as such by Royal Holloway College, in contrast to Irving, who has never held an academic post? That would be a fair point, but I think the term "historian" is so vague as to be reasonably applicable to anyone who writes about history.

    I do not accept that Cesarani abides by scholarly standards (his attack on Arthur Koestler indicates that he does not) and consider that he does hold racist opinions (he believes that the Jews are the "chosen people", that Palestine was granted to the Jews by God, and that Jews should be legally privileged).

    That does not mean, of course, that I regard Irving as anything more than a contemptible mountebank who should put a piece of sticking-plaster over his mouth.


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