Monday, February 20, 2006

Holocaust denier Irving is jailed

From the beeb:
"British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust and sentenced to three years in prison.
He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on a speech and interview he gave in Austria in 1989."
Irving was using no understatement when he said, "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," and "I'm not an expert on the Holocaust." He'll get no argument from me about that - only the accusation that he was fishing for a lighter sentence. His claim that it was only when he read the Eichmann papers that he changed his mind should surely be rejected on the grounds that no-one can be that stupid and ignorant?

He's an odious shit obviously and a proven anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. I've used this case before to make the case for free-speech and I haven't changed my mind. I don't really have anything new to add except to re-emphasize defending the principle of free-speech should not be confused with approval for the content of the speech, a point that has been increasingly difficult to get across these days.

That Holocaust denial is illegal in a number of European countries, but that blasphemy against Islam is not, has been used as an example of the West's hypocrisy over the cartoons issue by quite a few people, not least by the current President of Iran. And the fact that Iran is one of a number of countries in the region that routinely carry anti-Semitic filth in their media has also been used as an example of hypocrisy by quite a few people, including myself.

Charges of hypocrisy, inconsistency and double-standards abound and while I would personally recommend a strong and evenly-applied free-speech position as a way out of the mess people have got themselves into recently, it isn't essential. Instead, from those who quite clearly do not believe in free-speech we should expect a little more consistency in their authoritarianism. Should not demands that Europe pass laws proscribing blasphemy be accompanied with those insisting that Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic 'satire' be banned in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest? And an acknowledgement of the existence of the old one would be welcome from those who are seeing the "new" anti-Semitism everywhere - as would be some kind of recognition that Holocaust denial is obscene to a degree that these Danish cartoons were not. And if you disagree with the understanding outlined in that last sentence, also understand that I'm not the one insisting that laws be changed or that newspapers censor themselves in order to enforce my view of the matter.

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