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]

Samizdata quote of the day

Holocaust denial is, of course, completely irrational, has no basis in historical fact, and is almost always motivated by deep-seated racism. But there are no specific laws against Holocaust denial in the UK. Britain has even resisted attempts to enforce an EU directive outlawing Holocaust denial. In 2008, British courts prevented the extradition of suspected Holocaust denier Frederick Toben to Germany.

No matter how abhorrent Holocaust denial is, there are important reasons not to ban it in law. Deborah Lipstadt, who successfully defended a libel suit from the notorious Holocaust denier, David Irving, argues against giving politicians ‘the power to legislate history’. Banning Holocaust denial simply turns deniers into martyrs. It should be defeated by the facts, not by the law, argues Lipstadt.

Fraser Myers

30 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • bobby b

    Alison Chabloz.

    Tommy Robinson.

    Roseanne Barr.

    The biggest problem defending free speech is that the context often puts you on the side of shitheads.

  • NickM

    Amen to that Perry.

    We don’t stand for freedom to sacrifice it upon any altar.

    I have been to Dachau and Auschwitz. I have even stood on approx. the site of Hitler’s bunker (guided by a quite elderly veteran who wanted to see where “That bastard saw his end”. It was the summer after the Berlin wall fell and I was fifteen. I need no more than what I saw. Holocaust denialists are deranged contrarians at best (and that is me being at my most charitable). At worst they are Sauronically evil.

    Let evil flow so good can too. We have to trust that, quite simply, we are right. It is that simple and it has to be.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    NickM, I am curious about one feature of Dachau. Someone once claimed that no birds go near Dachau. Is that right? Did birds ever go there before the camps? Does anyone know? Or is this proof that birds are more spiritually sensitive than us?

  • Regional

    Holocaust Denial has been equated with Climate Change Denial, how evil are the Left to come up with such an absurd comparison?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Well, that seems fair. No-one denies that the climate changes. Sydney just went into Winter, and the climate has complied, with winds and rain! If they mean ‘Humans are to blame!’, they might have a small smidgeon of evidence to back them up.
    But I remember reading years ago about how the Maldives were going to mimic Atlantis, and ‘soon’ sink beneath the waves. They still don’t have merfolk going through the ruins, and you can get holiday flights there! Whilst the Maldives remain above water, we have nothing to worry about.

  • Regional

    Nicholas have you seen sea levels change at Fort Denison or Circular Quay?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Every day! It’s called tidal action. If you mean something permanent, not yet. Though I am probably duty-bound to keep looking.

  • APL

    “Holocaust denial”.

    Why would anyone choose to deny that any of the Holocausts have occurred?

    The ‘Harrying of the North’ where it’s estimated maybe 100,000 residents of Briton either died by the sword or starved to death, which out of a population a few million ( circa 1060 ) was a very significant genocide. Thanks Bill.

    I imagine the Boer, considers their treatment at the hands of the British, their own genocidal holocaust.

    The Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottomans, where it’s estimated 3 – 5 million Armenians were systematically starved or butchered on their way to die in what is now the Syrian desert. To be fair, this was but one, fairly recent actualisation of Islamic doctrine.

    And of course the Holdomor, where millions of Ukrainians were systematically and as an instrument of State policy murdered.

    And then there was THE holocaust, of the European Jewery by the Nazis.

    If there is a lesson to be learned, it must be:- Give up control of your homeland at your peril.

    But why one ‘holocaust’ should be privileged over another, is anyone’s guess.

  • James Strong

    Holocaust Denial should no more be a crime than to say that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World from Milford Haven in 1321.
    Both claims are just demonstrably false.

  • James Strong

    @ bobby b

    Why do you think Tommy Robinson is a shithead?

  • Henry Cybulski

    @ bobby b

    “The biggest problem defending free speech is that the context often puts you on the side of shitheads.” No, it puts you on the side of defending free speech. The “defend to the death” quote often attributed to Voltaire should be the guide.

  • bobby b

    “Why do you think Tommy Robinson is a shithead?”

    I’m no Robinson expert, but my understanding is he spent time in prison for mortgage fraud, a year for drunkenly assaulting a cop, was jailed repeatedly for soccer hooliganism (whatever that means), and just generally has lived a punch-up life. I understand that a few of his problems should have been considered defensive, but I’ve known several people who seem to live life on a violent edge like he does and none of them are there IN SPITE of their own character.

    It’s not his politics that I don’t like. It’s more just him.

  • Itellyounothing

    Over the years I have thought about the whole free speech and defending undesirables thing.

    The problem in humans is that the character traits that make someone pleasant to be around often go hand in hand with them being a sheep.

    Nice folks rarely stick their necks out of principle because of their tendency to agreeable behaviour. It’s why tyrants succeed for so long, when a revolution would remove them.

    People who are disagreeable frequently get paid more and are more likely to make a stand because of the tendency to kick up a fuss when politeness dictates you should not.

    In short, Team America was right about the need for people who behave like dicks.

  • bobby b (June 1, 2018 at 9:21 am), this article offers a view of Robinson – including those incidents – that you (and readers) might wish to consider.

    I’ve known several people who seem to live life on a violent edge like he does and none of them are there IN SPITE of their own character.

    I second some of that, but I also think about the various kinds of character who’d pursue matters in Rotherham in the face of the state’s very clear hints to go away. I can imagine a kind better than Tommy’s but I can also imagine the many kinds who’d take the hint.

  • NickM

    Holocaust Denial should no more be a crime than to say that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World from Milford Haven in 1321.
    Both claims are just demonstrably false.

    James gets the lollypop for that 😉 I mean everyone knows he left from Swansea in 1319. D’oh!

  • Laws forbidding hate speech must start with their own denial: they must deny that the Weimar republic had hate speech laws very like modern ones. Modern hate speech laws, by their very existence and the rhetoric used to justify them, assert that lie every day.

    A quote from the above link:

    This study is intended simply as an account of the German experience with legal proceedings against anti-Semitic agitators. It does not attempt to answer the basic question whether legal prosecution can ever halt or slacken a political movement that utilizes racial hatred and abuse. … It proceeds simply upon the assumption that attempts to answer that question … should not ignore the experience of this outstanding failure.

    The contrasting experience of Britain and the United States, who had no such laws in the period, should also not be ignored.

  • bobby b

    Thanks, Niall. I had read that, and the casual treatment in the article of, for one, the mortgage fraud issue struck me as near-dishonest. (They searched his mortgage applications and found an “irregularity”?) He’s so polarizing a figure that it’s hard to get a straight picture of him. But, looking back at a 2014 BBC news article about his conviction, I see this:

    Robinson admitted two counts of conspiring with others to obtain a mortgage by misrepresentation from the Abbey and Halifax building societies.

    Judge Andrew Bright QC described him as the “instigator, if not the architect” of some of the frauds.

    Passing sentence, the judge told him: “This was an operation which was fraudulent from the outset and involved a significant amount of forward planning.”

    He described Robinson as a “fixer” who had introduced others to fraudulent mortgage broker Deborah Rothschild.

    “I am satisfied you took part in a thoroughly dishonest course of conduct,” he told him.”

    I agree with Itellyounothing that we need rough men to help us change society, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those rough men are palatable.

  • NickM

    In the local shop today I bought some smokes. HTML is at least 25% nicotine and 40% Coke (am I the only one pissed off at the 250ml cans?) and they were selling they were discounting the retelling of EL Wisty’s notrotic crapulence. Anyway it got me thinking about retelling classics from a different perspective…

    Willy Wonka exploited the underclass with needlessly tasty food products and he was a human trafficker engaged in modern “slavery”.

    Sauron was a misunderstood hero of Middle Earth’s industrial revolution oppossed by misogynistic monarchists with the aid of a squirocracy of ruralist luddites.

    It could go on but I’ve hit John Buchan. I really have no idea where to go with him…

    “But if you’re on the biggest kind of job and are bound to get to the real boss, ten to one you are brought up against a little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake. Yes, sir, he is the man who is ruling the world just now, and he has his knife into the Empire of the Tzar, because his aunt was outraged and his father flogged in some one-horse location on the Volga.”

    -The Thirty Nine Steps.

    (It’s probably what Ms Abbott reads to Jeremy at his beddy-weddy time).

  • APL

    “Tommy as a straightforwardly dodgy character, knowingly making false statements for money. ”

    Then let’s have some equal opportunity persecution for fraudulent money grubbing. Let’s haul Peter Mandelson out of the Lords and haul him up before the Beak.

  • APL (June 1, 2018 at 10:59 am) is referring to a sentence – “The BBC article certainly presents Tommy as a straightforwardly dodgy character, knowingly making false statements for money.” which I wrote as part of a speculative comparison with the BBC’s original (similar IIRC) coverage of the Dinesh d’Souza matter (d’Souza was also not legally innocent IIUC).

    I then deleted the whole paragraph, deciding I needed to investigate more thoroughly before commenting.

    I congratulate APL for his speed in commenting. 🙂

    Be aware, if you comment on something I wrote less than 5 minutes ago, I am probably still editing it – almost always just for clarity and typos, but very occasionally the upcoming edit may be drastic. 🙂

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    “Sauron was a misunderstood hero” — NickM have you read The Last Ringbearer? I think it is one of the better fanfiction efforts along those lines.

  • NickM

    Rob,
    Haven’t even heard of it! It is on my list but I have two books on Spitfires first. People have got it into the heads I am interested in fighter planes. God knows where they got that from 😉

  • Paul Marks

    Should people have the right to say that my relatives (my father’s cousins in Holland – died before I was born) were not murdered?

    Yes they should – I think none of us here would disagree with that.

    Should they also have the right to say that I should be murdered?

    I would say YES – but on this latter point some libertarians would not agree with me.

    Holocaust denial is the mark of a cretin – but holocaust obsession can also develop into a mania.

    I recently came upon a nice lady comparing the limiting of welfare benefits in relation to Islamic migrants to Austria to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

    This is actually a common view of the German establishment (and the international “liberal” establishment) – “we must make up for the Nazi past by letting in the migrants now” – even though many of the migrants want to kill Jews.

    The governments of Austria, Hungary and Poland are far from perfect – but at least they are not BARKING MAD.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The governments of Austria, Hungary and Poland are far from perfect – but at least they are not BARKING MAD.

    Indeed, not being barking mad is quite an achievement for a government today. The US and Israel also qualify; probably Saudi Arabia and others, but what do i know?

    Let’s hope for the best for the new Italian government, sworn in today — at the very least, let’s hope that they are not barking mad.

  • Patrick Crozier

    On Holocaust denialism. Why deny something happened when you think it should have happened?

    It makes no sense.

  • On Holocaust denialism. Why deny something happened when you think it should have happened? It makes no sense. (Patrick Crozier, June 2, 2018 at 5:02 pm)

    Alas, it makes perfect sense. I have forgotten who said (before WWI IIRC)

    Everything is prolonging its existence by denying it exists.

    I also forget who, much more recently, noted how the PC switch from “that will never happen” to “it’s bigotry not to support that” as each stage of their campaign unfolds.

    There is also the obvious point that the Arabs who complain that Eichmann “didn’t finish the job” are (in a sense !!!) sincere. They look at all the Jews living in Israel and feel that German efficiency is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    It is also a way of signalling intent. Not everyone is able to do a Pohner on it: to say that millions were murdered “but not enough of them”. Saying it did not happen, when everyone knows it did, is a safer way of signalling your desire it should happen again.

  • Dudekid

    Banning Holocaust denial simply turns deniers into martyrs

    I hate hearing this phrase as if it’s a reason to not ban Holocaust denial, well now let’s try to avoid turning anyone into a martyr that’s the last thing we want to do. Who gives a shit about Holocaust deniers, we should be saying. Oh you’re a Holocaust denier? Well done you complete halfwit. Worrying about creating martyrs is a non-argument, we should only be worried about statist desire to police speech, whatever anyone happens to be saying

  • Helen C

    I was in the Army for twenty years. Sometimes, when I was stationed in Monterrey, California, we would experience protestors at the gates. It is surprising how many people do not understand the point of a national defense, but that is a tale for a different post. This is about free speech. As we drive through protestors it is common for soldiers to simply say “you’re welcome” no matter what they say to us. After all, they are there to thank us for giving them the right of free speech, right?

    They usually just look blank and stupid. They don’t get it.

  • bobby b

    Helen C
    June 3, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    “I was in the Army for twenty years. Sometimes, when I was stationed in Monterrey, California . . .”

    Completely OT, but I stayed at the DLIFLC-Presidio base in Monterrey several times, and it’s the most beautiful setting for a base I’ve ever seen. Wake up alarm provided by the seals barking, Pebble Beach golf just over the hill, whale-watching at lunch . . . Ah, memories.

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