We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Holocaust denial should not be a crime

Look, I have got a cold coming on. I do not really want to post about this. But, for the record (and because this is Samizdata, dammit! We may not be able to stop the passing of liberty but we of all people should toll the bell) David Irving should not be jailed. Historical opinions, however deluded and malevolent, should not be criminalised.

12 comments to Holocaust denial should not be a crime

  • Wow, great minds and all that… More of less simultaneous posting of articles on the same subject!

  • Brian

    I recall reading in the Times a few weeks ago (apropos the Irving show-trial) that there are several former SS officers living in Austria, who, since they are Austrians, the Austrian government is in no hurry to prosecute. As the writer says, this means that in Austria denying the Holocaust is a more serious offence than taking part in it.

    This is of course the happy nation that gave the world “Waldheimer’s Disease” (the inability to remember what you were doing between 1939 and 1945).

  • …however, we should be able to hire someone to walk along next to people like Irving while wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m with Stupid.”

  • Natalie’s posting at Natalie Solent is spot on, and I could not agree more. [Note: also hope the cold is better soon.]

    However, the world is a complicated place. Surely it was not that long ago that an extreme right-wing politician was elected (and possibly appointed) to a senior post. Not perhaps one’s own favorite choice, but all above board. The EU, that bastion of democracy, sent Austria to Coventry, until they unappointed the underirable bloke (or rather, I recollect, he stood down). Is that any example either? Poor Austria: I doubt whether they know if they are coming or going.

    Still, at least they don’t have the Danish problem.

    Best regards

  • Bernie

    But don’t you admire the way it falls into the hands of the Islamists so sweetly.

    “This man goes to jail for denying what happened to the jews while we have to bear those awful cartoons”

  • ResidentAlien

    Quite right, Bernie. Rather proving the point that the only way for government to impartially regulate different groups is for them not to regulate at all.

  • xj

    Austrian law prevents jackasses like Irvine from denying the Holocaust, and thereby prevents genuine scholars like Lipstadt (Link)from showing how the deniers are lying. Any kind of censorship just plays into the hands of extremists (“You see how our position is suppressed by law! Proof that the International Conspiracy controls our beloved Fatherland!”) I want to see the neo-Nazis out in the open, suffering the corrective effects of ridicule, not festering unchecked in dark corners.

  • I want to see the neo-Nazis out in the open, suffering the corrective effects of ridicule, not festering unchecked in dark corners.

    Amen to that!

  • Whatever happened to the principle that the only speech that could be censored had to be shown to pose an actual and real danger to someone? Do the Austrians truly believe that Holocaust-denial threatens real physical harm to anyone in their country? Perhaps the Arabs will pick up on Holocaust-denying and kill those who don’t deny the Holocaust. So Holocaust-denying should be illegal in Saudi Arabia. But not in Austria.

  • xj wrote “I want to see the neo-Nazis out in the open, suffering the corrective effects of ridicule, not festering unchecked in dark corners.”

    And Perry wrote “Amen to that!”

    While not wishing, overmuch, to oppose the result, I am not at all keen on the argument. This somewhat subtle point is actually rather important, in the particular case of Nazism, and also of holocaust denial.

    The issue I am raising here is, in effect, the Dunblane effect: that single-issue law is bad law.

    Nazism is, though complicated, a single issue; it is an especially important single issue for Austria (and Germany and Israel, and for Jews), as also is holocaust denial (another complicated but single issue).

    So, chaps, get a bit of generality. After 60 years, it’s about time!

    Best regards

  • Jack Jackal

    Look, it doesn’t matter whether any of you morons thinks that Irving should or should not be jailed: He’s a Jackass for coming to Austria, in light of his worldwide fame! It’d be one thing if he were one of the old locals down at the corner tavern boozing like they do, talking about the guten alten zeiten with the “it wasn’t so bads…” Or maybe, it was a career move: “Hmmm. Austria. I’ll get arrested, and probably convicted. But the 15 minutes of fame I’ll get might reestablish my sagging writing career and lackluster book sales. Didn’t my man Adolf write a best seller while in the hole…?” He’s just a pathetic moron, and so are we for giving him the time of day. Throw away the goddamn key!

  • Vik

    Outlawing thought and speech is wrong and stupid and EVIL in my opinion.

    If you can out-law holocaust denial then certainly you could outlaw denying Christ…….oh……wait……..yes that has been done before………the Spanish Inquisition……saw that on Monty Python……It worked out well I think!

    Actually similar restrictions on ideas are working well all over the world today.

    Have a nice one!