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In Defense of Free Thought

Posted on Feb 21, 2006

By Robert Scheer

I think as I please
And this gives me pleasure.
My conscience decrees,
This right I must treasure.
My thoughts will not cater
To duke or dictator,
No man can deny—
Die gedanken sind frei.

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—German 16th-century peasant song (revived as a protest anthem against the Nazi regime)

The news on Monday that an Austrian court has sentenced crackpot British historian David Irving to three years’ imprisonment for having denied the Holocaust 17 years ago should have alarmed free speech advocates—particularly at a time when Muslim fundamentalists are being lectured as to the freedom of expression that should be afforded cartoonists. In the event, however, a lack of noticeable outcry has exposed a longstanding double standard in the West about who is entitled to free speech and why.

To be sure, Nazi propaganda is an extremely sensitive issue in Hitler’s birth country, which for the most part endorsed the madman’s vision of the Third Reich. But the repression of the free marketplace of ideas is an endorsement of tyranny rather than its repudiation. And it is not just Austria and Germany itself that have banned the views of Holocaust deniers: Eight other European states have joined in. Muslim fundamentalists outraged by the cartoons that have appeared widely in the European media thus have the right to question the conflicting standards of what is considered worthy of censorship.

The muted response of the Western media to the Irving decision is difficult to fathom. Not much has been reported on this case, and what has appeared often assumes that this severe limit to free speech is obviously justified. For example, a BBC report over the weekend concluded with this ominous paragraph: “In a letter to the BBC from his prison cell, Mr. Irving said some of his views on the gas chambers had changed—but he also expressed opinions which would be challenged by mainstream historians.”

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Since when has it been accepted as a crime to challenge mainstream historians, even when, as in this case, the challenge is without foundation? Should a deeply wrongheaded view, even one motivated by vile malice as Irving’s critics claim motivates him, lead to incarceration? The case made for criminalizing speech in the West is usually based on the concept that it is not OK to yell fire in a crowded theater—or incite violence. The argument for jailing Irving is that denying the Holocaust is equivalent to stoking the fires of anti-Semitic violence. “Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such,” stated the head of the UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust, by way of defending the Austrian verdict.

But by that standard, the artists who drew the cartoons depicting Muhammad should also be arrested, as well as their editors and publishers. Critics of the Danish newspaper that commissioned the Muhammad cartoons claim that its editorial slant is anti-Muslim and that it was attempting a deliberate provocation. So should the paper’s editors be prosecuted? After all, people have died protesting these inflammatory comics. Will Austria and the other nations that ban anti-Semitic books now ban expressions judged by Muslims to be unacceptably hostile to their religion? Unfortunately, they may do just that out of political opportunism, given the rioting and trade boycotts that followed the publication of those cartoons. But they would once again be wrong.

Speech that is not felt by some powerful group to be loathsome is hardly in need of protection. The value of an absolutist opposition to the censorship of speech, as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, is that it holds out the prospect that the right to speak will be honored even when the content of those utterances is not. What is disturbing in both the Irving and Muhammad cartoon situations is the stuttering hesitancy of many who claim to be committed to free speech to speak out in opposition to those—be they Muslim clerics or Austrian judges—who seek to limit the free expression of individuals expressing views they detest.

In both instances, the world has been presented with a teaching moment, in which the argument for free thought—that die gedanken sind frei  (“thoughts are free”) that the Nazis and every other absolutist dictatorship have excelled in crushing—was not advanced by those who know better. As a result, a world sorely in need of a crash course in the efficacy of free debate received nothing of the sort. Instead, the lesson has been that the suppression of ideas is valid, as long as the suppressors are convinced that they are in the right.

Editor’s Note: When we originally posted “In Defense of Free Thought” last night we also published, on the same page, one of the images from the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest and Kurt Westgaard’s cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (also published in our ETG section when it first became news). Both images are available in our cartoon section.


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By Jim Kane, October 3, 2006 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment
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All religions do is devide people.My god is better than your god.The next step from this is the killing phase.Millions and millions of people have been killed in the name of religion.Foolish mortals open your eyes.

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By Amanda, May 7, 2006 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
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In responce to #6254 SonicEmpire,I would like to say that just as there are different branches of Jews, there are also different groups of Christians. What the Catholics believe is not set in stone. The Bible is not preached as the one and only way to go for redemption. Nore do they believe it was only the Jews who killed their savior, for if you knew anything about his death, you would know that it was for all our sins. And that because everyone sins, everyone had an equal part in his death. Also, is it so bad to want to convert people to something you cherish? Yes Christians are constantly trying to convery people, and yes some of the radicals(of which there are at lest some in every religion) go about it in the wrong fassion, but the Bible preaches love, compassion, respect, and most of all forgivness. If you missed these, then you could not have oppened your mind enough to see them. I would also like to point out that Jews have a long history of being pushovers, and that if they felt even a little strongly for their religion then they too would try to spread it to others instead to looking down their noses at the rest of us. The book of the Christians, Jews and Muslims are extremely similar. The only massive difference is the language. It is wrong to say that a specific religion only preaches hate and voilence when in fact it is not only completley false, but also a very narrow minded way of thinking when you make it painfull obvious you do not have all the facts, nor have the capascity or desire to find them.

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By SonicEmpire, April 1, 2006 at 1:21 am Link to this comment
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Gentile mean Pagan in the time it was written. christianity did not even exist at that. Judaism was the only religion at that time that believed in one god. you’re quoting stuff that you know nothinga bout historically and things that are bull. Most Jews don’t vene believe in half that stuff and most don’t take any bible literally to begin with. It is considered merely literature and myth with some historical aspects. Only 1 percent of Jews are Religious Jews which are the Orthodox Branches. Most are Reform and Liberal as I’ve stated or they have converted to other faiths such as Buddhism or they are Agnostic or Atheist. All christian bibles state that non-christians will burn in hell unless they convert to christianity and that Jews are to blame for the death of Jesus and Jews to today are also to blame and it also states that Gays are an Abomination and that has very stereotypical views of women and it also states automtically taht God is a man, which I don’t agree with for all religions, because I don’t believe that God is human or male of female or white or black. Christianity also states the 10 commandments, which rarely any Christian follows just as Jews don’t really follow them either. I don’t get caught up in religion, because I don’t let it run my life or let it influence rational decisions taht I make. Most religions anyway are filled with some kind of myth and superstition and none are perfect or correct, because their bibles were written by oridinary men and not saints or prophets and in a time when people didn’t have the same knowledge that they do today, so your dumb quotes mean nothing to me. Those that think their religion is superior are all fools in my opinion, because nonone really knows the truth for sure, but thsoe of us who believe in history and science are closer to the truth than religious fanatics and church-goers are. No God is superior and no religion is superior just as no race is superior. Everyone has mixed bloodlines and yes mankind ancestors originated in Africa rather you want to believe it or not. It’s a fact.

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By SonicEmpire, April 1, 2006 at 1:01 am Link to this comment
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As long as Antisemitism exists Zionism will exist and the media wouldn’t keep reporting on rcaism is it still didn’t exist in America, which it does just underneath the surface. And don’t quote Judaism to me, because you know nothing about it. Judaism has several branches and not all Jews believe the same. Most Jews belong to the Reform or Liberal Branches and don’t believe that any bible is the word of God, but was written by mankind and it is up to us to interpret it as we do. You’re quoting some biblical nonsense, but you haven’t looked at the Christian bible whih states that all non-christians will burn iun hell and also says that Jews killed Jesus and blames Jews today for his death. I dopn’t believe in any bible regardless of what it is, it’s just nonsense and an excuse to hate in my opinion. Christians are the only ones out trying to convert Jews and people in Third World Countries and the only ones to blame for almost all religious persecution of people of other faiths throughout history and black slavery and the list goes on, including the massacres of Muslims in Bosnia. You and thsoe who think like you always point of the so-called evil of other faiths, but you never take a good look at your own, which preaches it’s superior constantly to every other faith. The point being no faith is perfect AND CERTAINLY NOT YOURS. I think that people are to caught up in this notion of faith that they let it define themsleves and their lives and they lose all sense of reality and commonsense. You shouldn’t be talking anyway about minorites considering THAT YOU ARE ONE YOURSELF, you may ahve white skin, but to most whites YOUY’RE AN ITALIAN and in the minds of most people ITALIANS AREN’T WHITE THEY ARE ETHNIC WHITES, WHICH MEANS BASICALLY NONWHITES.I also have Italian blood and have lived in Italy and none of the people there are as ignorant as you nor do they claim to be white, they are just happy to be themselves instead of trying to fit in when they never can.

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By philip vitale, March 12, 2006 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

go to :http://www.honestmediatoday.com/products.htm and watch zionist war crimes. no speilberg movies about these events. no wonder there are suicide bombers. all these events are documented but not shown here or reported here. so don’t tell us about jewish persecution! they do enough of it every day since their existence. it’s just kept hidden by our media masters.

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By philip vitale, March 9, 2006 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment
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sonicempire says :“The point is that Jewish persecution for 2,000 years is a fact” maybe there wouldn’t have been any persecution if they hadn’t murdered jesus christ. or made statements like these documented ones. ““Kill the Germans, wherever you find them! Every German is our moral enemy. Have no mercy on women, children, or the aged! Kill every German—wipe them out!” (Llya Ehrenburg, Glaser, p. 111).
“Germany is the enemy of Judaism and must be pursued with deadly hatred. The goal of Judaism of today is: a merciless campaign against all German peoples and the complete destruction of the nation. We demand a complete blockade of trade, the importation of raw materials stopped, and retaliation towards every German, woman and child.” (Jewish professor A. Kulischer, October, 1937) JESUS CHRIST , speaking to the Jews in the Gospel of St. John, VIII:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it. - then answered the Jews - ” (which makes it clear that Christ was addressing the Jews.)
also: ST. JOHN, Gospel of St. John VII: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry because the Jews sought to kill him.  DIODORUS SICULUS. First century Greek historian.Observed that Jews treated other people as enemies and inferiors. “Usury” is the practice of lending money at excessive interest rates. This has for centuries caused great misery and poverty for Gentiles. It has brought strong condemnation of the Jews!
AQUINAS, THOMAS, Saint. 13th century scholastic philosopher. In his “On the Governance of the Jews,” he wrote: “The Jews should not be allowed to keep what they have obtained from others by usury; it were best that they were compelled to worked so that they could earn their living instead of doing nothing but becoming avaricious.” the jews were also thrown out of almost every european country. were all these countries wrong? here are just a few jewish talmud quotes. no wonder why the persecution took place: Moed Kattan 17a : If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.

Baba Mezia 114a-114b. Non-Jews are Not Human. Only Jews are human (“Only ye are designated men”). Also see Kerithoth 6b under the sub-head, “Oil of Anointing” and Berakoth 58a in which Gentile women are designated animals (“she-asses”).

Sanhedrin 58b: Jews are Divine. If a heathen (Gentile) hits a Jew, THE GENTILE MUST BE KILLED. Hitting a Jew is the same as hitting God

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By SonicEmpire, March 6, 2006 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
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In Response to your statemennt that millions of personalizations may be a nice dream but remains simply impractical. You statement is true it’s impossible to identify on a personal level with each person, but no one said you should what I said was that people should acknowledge the fact that HUMANBEINGS died, regardless numbers and it makes no difference that most of us can’t identify personally with each one, especially since it didn’t happen to us personally, but we should be able to identify with the human factors involved, meaning the fact that they were human and innocent people, men, women and children just like all of us and the fact that something like this could happen to anyone and any group of people if ignorance and the cycle of hatred isn’t stopped.

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By SonicEmpire, March 6, 2006 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
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In Response To John:

I know what you are saying about the numbers and how the higher the number the more it begins to sink in people’s brains, however that’s exactly the problem to begin with some people care too muchg about numbers and less about the fact that people were slaughtered in the first place. As I said The Third Reich kept perfect records, because they were obessed with numbers as you and many others seem to be. It’s typical that when it comes to persecution of Jews all of a sudden people start debating numbers and saying it’s a lie, but few seem to be saying that when it comes to the massacres in Bosnia, and the persecution of Wiccans and slavery of African Americans and so on. In my opinion it is mostly racism. I noticed that many Arabs nowadays so easily deny the holocaust and Jewish persecution for 2,000 years in general, yet they don’t deny or even want to debate or hear any debate on the massacres of Muslims in Bosnia or Christians killing Muslims during the Crusades or Palestinian Victims. I’m not saying there should be any debate on the massacres of Muslims in Bosnia, because they took place, but why is it that so many Arabs deny Jewish persecution, yet expect others to sympathize with them. Knowing what they went through they shouldn’t be denying religious persecution period. History is filled with it. Starting with Pagans who persecuted Non-Pagans and Christians who persecuted Non-Christians. The point is that Jewish persecution for 2,000 years is a fact just like slavery for over 600 years and racism against Blacks in America is a fact and so on rather people want to acknowledge that or not. They can say whatever it is they wish to say or debate all they want, but at the end of the day they can’t change the truth. Most of those who question historical persecutions of minorities should look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves why they who hate question these things in the first place. It doesn’t make sense. If people hated as they do now then why is it so hard for them to believe or is it just racism and I say it is. They are so willing to admit that the Irish were treated ill when they first arrived in America and about the potato famine, but amazingly enough nothing that has to do with Non-Whites and Non-Christians. You as know as well as I do that the excuses they give and propaganda they use is just a lie and an excuse to lure youths who have low self-esteem and little hope, and those living in poverty to join their organizations.

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By John, March 1, 2006 at 12:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Millions of personalizations may be a nice dream but remains simply impractical. Quantitative estimates allow for the magnitude of this formidable event to sink through our desenitized skins.

And ethnicities and races are not the same. I personally like the argument that shows the latter to be nonexistant.

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By SonicEmpire, February 28, 2006 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it disturbing that the people who have commented here keep talking about numbers instead of people. First of all I am from Germany and my mother is a German, but I have chosen to convert to Judaism. I know full well that the Holocaust did happen as does my grandmother and my mother. It’s funny that so mnay who deny the holocaust always seem to be from every place but Germany. The attitude that Germans had in those days haven’t changed 100% there is still some discrimination against Non-Christians and Foreigners. The holocaust took place due to centuries of religious persecution and teachings of intolerance by Christian Churches against Jews. The Holocaust is not the only time that Jews have been persecuted it is just the more recent holocaust. Jews have been persecuted from centuries in Europe and in Arab countries and in many countries throughout the world and were never fully accepted as so-called real Europeans and so forth or as being really from the countries they were from due to their religion and the fact that people have always seen Judaism as a race instead of a religion. Which is still the case even today and especially the case for muslims nowadays in Europe who are also treated like Jews were. the only difference is that they haven’t been massacred in Europe, except for Bosnia. The Turkish people in Germany don’t deny the holocaust, because they understand why it happened and they are also targets of hate in Germany. In Germany Turkish people can’t have a Mosque and they are made fun of and yelled at all the time as they walk down the street. The woemn are not allowed to teach school, because of their religious garments and so forth. They are victims of constant discrimination in Germany, but most are either 1st or 2nd generation German Citizens whereas Jews have been German for 1,600 years which is a long enough time to conclude that they are German enough and indeed most have German christian blood. Saying that the Jews of Europe aren’t really European is like saying that Blacks in America aren’t really American or can’t be American. Besides there is no such thing as a pure race anyway and most of us have mixed blood, mine is just closer up, because I’m biracial. The Third Reich kept very good records and film footage. Jews were not the only people who were killed, there were Poles, Gypsies, Slavs, The Handicapped, Homosexuals and many others who also suffered the same fate. The only difference was that the Jews were treated worse, because they were seen as the ultimate enemy and more dangerous. People are too caught up in propaganda these days. i find it funny that so many people, in particular racist groups deny the holocaust since they hate Jews anyway, wouldn’t they have wanted it to happen and want someone to pick up where Hitler left off or maybe it’s because if they admit to themselves that it did happen or could even be a possibility then they would also have to admit that millions of children were gassed simply because they were Jews or Gypsies and so on. Children who hadn’t even had a chance to live or even had a chance to make those that hate hate them. They would have to admit that these children were innocent and also more importantly that they were human. It doesn’t matter how many died, it only matters that they died and simply because they were who they were.No reason is ever good enough to justify murder it’s merely an excuse.

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By Philip Vitale, February 28, 2006 at 8:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i wish people would stop saying holocaust denial. it’s not denial, it’s seeking the truth in the number of deaths and other possible falsehoods. the fake soap and lampshade stories are just an example of exaggerated lies now absolutely proven to be not at all true. In regard to the human soap story, darling of the establishment media and virulent anti-revisionist Deborah Lipstadt noted in 1981 “The fact is that the Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap.” (“Nazi Soap Rumor During World War II,” Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1981, p II/2.) Michael Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, now supervising Steven Spielberg’s taxpayer-funded Holocaust remembrance project, admitted in 1994, “there is no evidence, despite widespread reports, that human fat was used for soap. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum tested several bars of soap reported to be composed of human fat but no such fat was found.” (Y. Gutman, M. Berenbaum, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1994, p.80.) The brown, textured lampshade has been the talk of this small hamlet in Nelson County, and most people seem to think it genuine - a true reminder of the Nazi horrors of the second world war. “I tell you, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said one believer, Shirley Allen.

Tales of such ghastly shades have circulated for decades. They stemmed, in part, from considerable newspaper coverage after WWII about human lampshades made at Buchenwald concentration camp.

But Diane Saltzman, director of the collections division of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is highly skeptical that the shade is human skin. Despite the reports, not one has been found.

“None of the lampshades that have surfaced over the past 50 years have ever turned out to be real,” Saltzman said. “There is no proof that this practice has ever occurred.”
revisionists want to know if there are any other lies that were told. every side in war has propoganda. why can’t anyone now 60 years later even question ww2 history without fear? again, if we were to question any other historical deaths in all of history there would not be any fear nor any jail time for doing so. why only the 6 million?

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By Look at this..., February 28, 2006 at 1:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Turns out Irving just did it again. Things could get interesting as far as the recognition of the situation by governments/the media.

I remember thinking the exact same thoughts whenever I saw this news first surface. I sincerely hope they don’t lengthen his sentence anywhere near the 10 year benchmark that prosecutors are aiming for.

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By Pah, February 27, 2006 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment
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history-fixer:

“Comment #4256 by Pah said:

‘...They are more consistent with a willingness on Irving’s part knowingly to misrepresent or manipulate or put a “spin” on the evidence so as to make it conform with his own preconceptions.’

One could say the same about Lipstadt or anyone else that takes the accepted history of the Holocaust on faith and not evidence.”

Where, how, and to what degree?  Your claim is baseless.  Judge Gray’s claims and those of legitimate Holocaust historians (Irving doesn’t even claim to be one) are supported by reams of evidence.  Links have already been given.  Deal with them.

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By Magistre, February 27, 2006 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The thing of it is:  We all know we’re being lied to with “history”, the only question is:  How long has it been going on?  Is anything “historical” true?

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By Richard Graham, February 27, 2006 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So, I am absolutely repulsed by Nazi Germany. However, “freedom of speech” to anyone who is not a hypocrite, means the freedome to speak one’s mind. This is a fact, an undeniable fact. If one can’t reason this out, can’t see the truth in this, then they’ve already proven to everyone who hears them speak otherwise that they are not capable of a decent, educated and rational discussion.

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By Gluttonous Labrador, February 26, 2006 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment
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One of the things about the Germans is that they are excellent, and compulsive, record keepers. When, in 1980, my father needed his original German passport application from 1927, the German Government dutifully provided it.

So it was with the holocaust. German officialdom dutifully and carefully recorded the details of the movement of millions of Jews, Gypsies and others to camps such as Auschwitz. German officialdom dutifully recorded the fate of the victims.

These are matters of fact. They are not open to “academic debate” anymore than we can debate the fact that the earth is in orbit around the sun. We can argue why it happened, how it happened and the finer points, but the central fact is indisputable.

Now why would someone try and dispute the indisputable? Clearly they must be regarded as either sick or have some ulterior motive, perhaps to entertain us, like debating that the earth is actually flat.

As has been demonstrated in the courts at his libel trial. Irving’s motive is anti semitic.There is no basis in fact for any of his arguments, nor is it “freedom of speech” to libel and defame the millions who died.

Recognise evil when you see it.

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By Philip Vitale, February 26, 2006 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the point is not denial as laura suggests. the point is exaggerating the facts. some people seek the truth as jesus told me in my religion to do. it does not say anything about if the truth hurts or defames someone or not. how come no museums or speilberg movies about the jewish run gulags in russia where over 30 million christians were murdered. how come nobody seems to care about defaming them? is there any law anyone can point out to me that if you deny that 30 million of them were not murdered you can recieve jail time. why only when jews are involved there are laws to protect them? does genocide only count for them? also i would like to know how questioning (not denying) the official figures of dead is the same as yelling fire in a theatre? does anyone really think that if we were to find out that only say 2 million jews were really killed during ww2 that would then incite people to violence? again revisionists are not denying (as a lot of people here suggest) they are trying to find out the real truth of what happened. after all the winners of war usually exaggerate things. remember the original fake soap and lampshade stories? now proven to be untrue? what else might there have been? seeking this information is not hate. remember when our government told us jfk was shot from behind?  see the zapruder film lately?

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By Just happened upon this, and couldn't help myself, February 26, 2006 at 1:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is not surprising to find Holocaust deniers when Irving’s name pops up?  Philip Vitale blathered ...

“Israeli and Polish officials announced a tentative revised toll of 1.1 million Auschwitz dead. (Y. Bauer, Fighting the Distortions, Jerusalem Post (Israel), September 22, 1989; Auschwitz Deaths Reduced to a Million, Daily Telegraph (London), July 17, 1990; Poland Reduces Auschwitz Death Toll Estimate to 1 Million, The Washington Times, July 17, 1990)

this alone cuts the 6 million myth in half! no jail for them. even published in jewish papers! Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children, mainly jews from various countries of Europe, Auschwitz-Birkenam, 1940-1945 this is what it now says at Auschwitz! reduced to 1.5 million but never revised anywhere.  they don’t go to jail either.  either they are liars or 6 million is a lie. you cannot have it both ways. let’s get to the truth by debating !”

Bunkum as this argument is, deniers keep pulling it.  The 4 million figure at Auswhitz was the stuff of Soveit propaganda.  Historians were quick to distrust it, and it was thus never part of the overall 6 million figure.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/techniques-of-denial/four-million-01.html

Sadly comments like P. Vitale’s and P. Sullivan’s prove that Holocaust denial and anti-semitism are still alive and strong.  But putting Irving in jail only makes these blokes hem and haw all the louder.  Count me out.

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By Greg, February 25, 2006 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When I was in high school in the 80’s, I breifly thought that restricing the use of the swastika in Germany was a free speach problem. But after some discussion I came to believe that because of the crimes comitted by the people of that nation, it makes sense to have very strong limits to hate speech there. Austria would also be included. If a foreigner did not know he was breaking the law, I would expect some leniency. But it sounds like this guy knew what he was risking.

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By Mohamed emad eddin, February 25, 2006 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The SO Called Holocaust is an alleged zionist propaganda never ever been proven as a fact! But Ther are several other proven Holocausts:
1- Israel Holocaust aginst Palestinians,the systematic killingof humans,destroying of towns,villages, homes and the sabotage of trees and plants
2- The great American holocaust against the red Indians the native people of the continent and the annhiliation of more than 80 MILION!
3- The holocaust of 2 Japanese cities using Atomic
and Nuclear bombs against a nation already starts surrender talks with the former USSR and killing?
Respecting the live memory of the historyand the international Law is very important!
But when the people you used to abuse revolt and retalate,blame not but your selves

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By historyfixer, February 25, 2006 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Comment #4269 by charles wallace said:

“Even in the most liberal, the United States, it is not legal to yell “fire” in a crowded cinema…”

It’s legal if the moviehouse is on fire. The “official” Holocaust story is suspect in its veracity and thus should be open to question everywhere without fear of jail.

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By historyfixer, February 25, 2006 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Comment #4256 by Pah said:

“...They are more consistent with a willingness on Irving’s part knowingly to misrepresent or manipulate or put a “spin” on the evidence so as to make it conform with his own preconceptions.”

One could say the same about Lipstadt or anyone else that takes the accepted history of the Holocaust on faith and not evidence.

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By Chill Bill, February 25, 2006 at 9:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The problem with yelling FIRE in a crowded theater is not one of free speech, it’s a matter of property rights: the owner of the theater doesn’t want you to yell FIRE and it’s his property, he can damn well kick you out of get you arrested for breaking the rules of his establishment.

The only thing you can’t say with freedom of speech is that there are limits to it.

Fcking Facists.

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By Rob, February 25, 2006 at 3:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Laura,
I am afraid you are the one “missing the point” here! The “point” in your 11 million supposedly expired gypsies,homosexuals ,jews, etc. should be moved one place to the left; i.e. 1,1 million is nearer the true figure!!
Check the Red Cross figures for unbiased reality please, before you indulge your emotional fantasies!

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By Donald M. Orcutt, February 24, 2006 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment
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Free speech must not be interdicted under any
circumstance. We must be free to confront, accept or deny, the written or oral speech of
others by using that organ labelled ‘brain’.

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By Susan Block, February 24, 2006 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment
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We all have a right to think and fantasize and express those thoughts and fantasies through art or attempts at art, literature, journalism, propaganda, advertising, erotica, education, communication, conversation. The cartoonists have a right to publish their bad drawings, just as I have a right to blog, and you have a right to send me hate mail, and Tom Cruise has a right to babble on about intergalactic travel, and neo-Nazis have a right to publish books that say the Holocaust is a figment of Elie Weisel’s imagination. This last right is a rather vital one to uphold these days, and all those guilt-ridden Holocaust Denial Laws must be repealed to uphold it. Those of us who are “offended” by Holocaust deniers (and I am one of them) must not mortgage our beliefs in Free Speech to try to assuage our hurt feelings that some ahistorically-minded loon says the concentration camps were summer resorts. I agree with Robert Scheer that it is a travesty of justice and a blow against Free Speech that crackpot British historian David Irving should be sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for the Speech Crime of “Holocaust Denial.” We must remember that these are only words Mr. Irving is spouting. We shouldn’t make a Free Speech Martyr out of a guy like this, but should just let him spout away, along with the Creationists, believers in Martian abductions and people who say Cheese Whiz is cheese.

Being a sex educator, artist, bloggamist and staunch defender of Freedom of Speech, this is a no-brainer for me. If anything is *sacred* on this unholy, heavenly Earth, it is my right and the right of my fellow humans to think, feel, speak, draw and publish what we want without being harmed or arrested. This is one of my most precious rights as an American, enshrined in our First Amendment. And, though I do not support invading other sovereign nations to make them “free,” it is a right that I wish for people around the world.

Thus I defend the right of the Danes to publish their crude political-religious cartoons, along with the right of crackpots like Irving to spout their fantasies.

For more on this topic see my bloggamy:
http://www.drsusanblock.com/blog/

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By Catherine L. White, February 24, 2006 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
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Whether Irving is a scholar or a nut job is irrelevant.
Whether the Holocaust happened as we believe it did or not is irrelevant.
What is at stake is the right to speak your mind and yes, that right carries the strong possibility that you will offend someone, somewhere. Too bad.

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By Laura, February 24, 2006 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
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I think you miss the point here.  11 million Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, political dissidents, mentally disabled were murdered.  Not as an act of war, but of genocide.  Denying this is defaming, libeling and slandering these victims and their families.  There are no laws to protect these acts.  Strangely enough, it is not only the victims they malign.  The Nazis kept meticulous records, participants admitted their acts.  Even the engineers who designed the gas chambers documented their designs and tests. Why do the revisionists and deniers challenge their words too.

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By hbaier, February 24, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
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The difference between satirizing a religious taboo and denying the holocaust is that between taunting and slandering. The first is legal (and is protected by the right to free speech), and the second *may* be illegal if someone cares to prosecute.

I don’t see the double standard.

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By Philip Vitale, February 24, 2006 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
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Israeli and Polish officials announced a tentative revised toll of 1.1 million Auschwitz dead. (Y. Bauer, Fighting the Distortions, Jerusalem Post (Israel), September 22, 1989; Auschwitz Deaths Reduced to a Million, Daily Telegraph (London), July 17, 1990; Poland Reduces Auschwitz Death Toll Estimate to 1 Million, The Washington Times, July 17, 1990) 

this alone cuts the 6 million myth in half! no jail for them. even published in jewish papers! Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children, mainly jews from various countries of Europe, Auschwitz-Birkenam, 1940-1945 this is what it now says at Auschwitz! reduced to 1.5 million but never revised anywhere.  they don’t go to jail either.  either they are liars or 6 million is a lie. you cannot have it both ways. let’s get to the truth by debating !

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By philip viitale, February 24, 2006 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
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i’d like to ask why jews are so set in there ways about the 6 million figure? all that i know is if i found out that maybe there were less then 6 million of my people that died i would be happy that they weren’t dead!. common sense. if you found out that someone in your family was alive and it was proven with facts and they showed up at your door what would you do? say get out of here uncle schlomo you are supposed to be dead? now the figure is going to be reduced to only 5,999,999, i need all the sympathy , money and museums i can get? all that i know is that i would be happy if someone found out that there were less people murdered than more. not jail someone for questioning it! there is no evidence that all these years this holocaust revisionism has caused any violence except when the jews cause it by protesting. answer supposed falsehoods with facts not fear of prison.

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By charles wallace, February 24, 2006 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
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No country permits unlimited free spech. Even in the most liberal, the United States, it is not legal to yell “fire” in a crowded cinema or burn a cross. “The protections afforded by the First Amendment ... are not absolute,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a majority opinion upholding Virginia’s ban on cross burning. Similarly, Germany and Austria were forced by the allies at the end of World War II to outlaw public displays of Nazism or anti-Semitism. You can’t buy a swastika in Germany (or Mein Kampf) and you can’t give a speech calling for a return of Nazi power. While the Nazi party exists legally in the U.S, it is outlawed in Germany. The German government feels only tough restrictions will prevent a return to Nazi rule. So there is no debate in Germany about the good things Hitler did.  The German people, like americans, have the right to limit free speech which they believe will incite violence. It’s not the same as an anti-Muslin cartoon.

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By philip viitale, February 24, 2006 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
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the anti muslim cartoon articles that are protected free speech have caused violence almost immediately. nothing will happen to the authors. david irving has written for 2 decades about questioning the official version of the so-called holocaust. no violence at all has happened. he goes to jail? something aint right! free speech no matter how much you don’t like it or disagree with it should always be protected. same thing almost happened when the jews were whining about the “passion of the christ”. this movie was supposed to cause violence against jews. millions watched. nothing happened!

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By Patrick Sullivan, February 24, 2006 at 1:18 am Link to this comment
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The control of Dialogue is what the Zionists and their collaborators amongst the murdering rich are all about.

The Zionists are exhibiting the highest level and most intense form of cannibalistic genocidal behavior.

They are either unwilling, or unable to change their atrocious violent brutal and murderous behavior on their own.

This specific aggressive type of human predator behavior is a natural product of the harsh desert environment, it is a survival response known as “Individual Biological Opportunity.”

This behavior pattern is exhibited by the persons that we call “Zionists,” whereas a Jew could be considered a person who upon entering into a new eco-system, will take up the new environments favored mode of behavior. The get along go along folks that comprise the majority of Jews. Live and let live sort of people.

The Zionist on the other hand wants to follow the old desert dwellers tradition of “Live and let Die.” Not really good or bad, but rather in todays world it could be considered merely being stuck on “Animal Primitivism.”

The Jews have a saying that it is always one of their own that will do them in; this is because they share most closely the same niche within the eco-system and in the strategy of “Individual Biological Opportunity,” destroying the ones most close to you reduces the pressure on the eco-system that sustains life.Scarcity, the scarcity of the harsh desert environment, is what produced the intense behavior to begin with.

Humans of course exhibit varieties of behaviors and one could not ordinarily be considered good or bad, what allows life within the eco-system is the final determinant of any behavior.

The Holocaust narrative that is being offered as historical fact by the Zionists, to be enforced with the violence of the State against those who may have a different take on history, also is found within the natural world. Ground nesting birds will pretend to be wounded when you approach their nest. The birds strategy is to deflect the hunter away from their offspring, and away from their nest.

The Zionists are using the same deceptor behavior so as to throw us off from what their real game is. The end result of the strategy of “Individual Biological Opportunity,” is the genocide of all other feeders. Thats us. For thousands of years this has been the plan, yet only in the modern age has the technology become avaible to allow the Zionists to finally “Kill us all.”

The Zionists and their collaborators are known in the political world as the “Alliance.” The murdering rich employ the Zionists for their high level organizational skills that they employ across national borders, to foster strife within this world.

These aggressive behaviors need to be replaced not due to failure of their use, but rather due to the destructive nature of warfare since the introduction of nuclear weapons.

Regrettably, the murdering rich and their mighty sons of Zion have until this time either not been able to, or for some other reason, remain unwilling to change their destructive behavior pattern.

This is where the presence of Extraterrestrials enters into our Political world.

In April of 1947 The “Alliance” made the decision to go ahead with a planetary destroying build-up of nuclear weapons. This was public knowledge. What remained unknown was the secret plan to use these same weapons to immolate the mass of the human race in a genocidal nuclear world war.

This plan is still in effect, and it appears that a war with Iran may stampede the herd into the Zionists ancient and self fulfilling prophecy, “Armageddon.” Thats the battle where they all hide, and we all die.

For nearly the last 60 years there have been opportunities for a modification of behavior into a cooperator type, yet our murdering rich decided long ago that they would rather “Fight than switch.” This is why instead of seeking peace they instead have merely spent more of our money to build themselves comfortable nests deep within the underground.

The unknown actors that we call “ET” repeatedly have gone overboard to prevent the extermination of the human race from these nuclear weapons, yet at some point we as humans need to decide what our role is to do too end the nuclear threat that we face.

For those who are not aware of the large and comfortable underground shelters that have been built with their tax money, well if you are not aware of them that is an indication that when the murdering rich finally get these nuclear weapons exploding over our heads, that you apparently were not included in the guest list for the underground.

http://politicsofet.com

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 23, 2006 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment
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The fact that most people who write comments use fake names is indeed a sad testimony that we do live in a police state, and that most people are coward enough to disclose their real identities! I am proud I am one of the last romantics and freedom lovers who truly believe, “Give me freedom, or give me death.” My real name is what you see, and I live in Chicago; I am a Muslim and proud of it; I hate racists, bigots, hypocrites and people with split vision and double standards.
I am suggesting that people posting here should use their real names! I don’t read comments that don’t bear real names!

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By Pah, February 23, 2006 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
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Some observations.  From post 4229:

“Irving is only a ‘crackpot British historian’ if you buy the mainstream misconceptions about him. Whatever your opinion of him may be, even the judge in his libel case couldn’t fault his history:”

Very selective quotation, boyo.  Judge Gray said a lot of things about Irving, among them:

“13.143 As I have already indicated it is material to take account of the nature or quality of what Irving claims to have been mistakes or misapprehensions on his part. Certain of Irving’s misrepresentations of the historical evidence might appear to be simple mistakes on his part, for instance the misreading of haben as Juden in Himmler’s telephone log for 1 December 1941. But there are other occasions where Irving’s treatment of the historical evidence is so perverse and egregious that it is difficult to accept that it is inadvertence on his part. Examples include Irving’s rejection of the evidence for the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz; his claim that Hitler lost interest in anti-semitism on coming to power; his account of Hitler’s meeting with Horthy in April 1943; his wholesale dismissal of the testimony of Marie Vaillant-Couturier and his continued reliance on the forged Tagesbefehl No. 47 which purportedly gave the number of casualties in Dresden. I have referred in the course of this judgment to other instances where Irving’s account flies in the face of the available evidence.

“13.144 Mistakes and misconceptions such as these appear to me by their nature unlikely to have been innocent. They are more consistent with a willingness on Irving’s part knowingly to misrepresent or manipulate or put a “spin” on the evidence so as to make it conform with his own preconceptions. In my judgment the nature of these misstatements and misjudgments by Irving is a further pointer towards the conclusion that he has deliberately skewed the evidence to bring it into line with his political beliefs.”

http://www.hdot.org/sec_xiii.asp#xiii

And in post 4224:

“However, when I heard that David Irving was being persecuted by Jewish organizations and that these Zionists had used terrorist threats to prevent the publication of his books, I started to look into why this was happening.

“Never in history has the truth needed the government and laws to support it. The truth is a brain-seeking missile that succeeds in spite of governments, not because of it.

“Therefore, I have to conclude that the Holocaust story must be a sham, a lie used to extort cash and political concessions from the stupid goyim. I now recognize the Zionist movement as the most evil and racist political system ever devised.”

You from Stormfront?  This is a very common string of (non)reasoning over there, in which they deny the Holocaust based upon issues completely peripheral thereto.  I suppose, considering the laws against denying it, we should deny the Armenian genocide as well?  Or maybe we should stick to history with history.

And from post 4222:

“I find it very plausible that the Holocaust is exaggerated.  Look at all the lies in recent ‘official’ history—Pearl Harbor, JFK, 9-11….Look at how hypocritical the Israelis are toward the Palestinians.  The Nazis were evil because they thought they were superior to everyone, yet Jews still claim that they are ‘God’s chosen people’?  Uhh, isn’t that similarity a little too close for comfort?!”

What revisions of Pearl Harbor, JFK, and 9-11?  The third hasn’t even been around long enough to face serious historical revisionism.  Somehow I think you’re referring to the assassination in the second one, and Stone’s movie at that, which hasn’t been revise anything in the least.  Conspiracy theories, and deniers have their fair share thereof, do not a truth make.  And I don’t know what you’re referring to in the first example.  By what methods, with what evidence, and on what grounds has it been revised?  Compare it Holocaust denial and get back to me.  Perhaps then you’ll see what is and isn’t legitimate historical revisionism.

Again, you’re dragging in peripheral material with talk of Israel.  And Jews are equivalent to Nazis by virtue of calling themselves “chosen”?  Even if that wasn’t peripheral, it still wouldn’t be worth a moment’s thought. 

And from post 4220:

“Those who favor anti-Holocaust denials laws are worst than the nazis.”

Don’t be dramatic.  Irving’s facing a few years in jail.  It’s not sunshine and moonbeams, but he ain’t exactly going to the gas chambers.

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By Doug, February 23, 2006 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
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To muslima:

“but, there is the fact that inside all your western countries, you have now increasing moslem communities who believe in God and the prophets, last of them being Mohamed. So insulting their belief is racism”

1. It is not racism to ridicule religion. Muslim is not a race. Religion is just a superstitious belief created to explain existence prior to the evolution of human brains to the point where we could comprehend reality without there having to be an invisible sky monster behind it. Of course, not all brains and cultures evolve at the same rate, but those of us who have evolved should not be constrained by those of you who haven’t.

2. You are NOT welcome in my country if you do not leave all your culture and prejudices behind. If you want to live in my country, you must adopt my culture and participate in my traditions.

3. If you attempt to subvert my basic human rights (free expression), then you are my enemy and I will exterminate you. No politics, no discussion, no marching in the streets, no gradual escaltion - just outright and immediate destruction by the quickest and easiest means possible.

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By Panopticon, February 23, 2006 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
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Playing devils advocate for a moment:  What if our defense of free speech of people that we don’t agree with (which Chomsky correctly points out is the acid test of the veracity of one’s belief in free speech) led to a situation where the precepts of neo-Nazis became a prevailing belief in American society.  Would we be willing to defend the right to free speech with the risk that we are living in a society that is becoming more chaotic by the year due to economic and social stresses, and is therefore increasingly willing to adopt or at least tolerate extreme views?  It has been said that the rise of Nazi Germany would have been unlikely had the Germany of the 1930s had a robust economy and less social stratification.

I’m asking this because it seems that one’s belief in free speech is based on one’s belief in the sanity of most other Americans.  In a society that has been socialized by corporate propaganda for generations, isn’t there more of risk of demogogues gaining power here through defending their free speech rights?

I believe the risk is worth it, but I’m curious about the rationale of others who also believe this.

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By John dudley, February 23, 2006 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment
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This is probably the most interesting defense of David Irving’s right to free speech. It is written by an Israeli journalist.

http://www.rense.com/general69/bell.htm

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By FreeDem, February 23, 2006 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
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You touch on the heart of the problem of freedom.

If you have freedom, do you give such freedom to people who would overthrow that freedom, or put roadblocks in their way.

And when you do that, where do you stop.

Leo Strausse, himself a refugee from Nazis, and the intellecual father of the NeoCon Bushevics, ended ultimately saying that freedom must be eleminated in order to save it. The thinking was way more convoluted to hide that point, but that was the result when you got the kinks out.

While I think suicide is a poor solution to danger, the problem he poses still remains.

I think there is little danger from obvious idiots, who march up and down in bizzare uniforms spouting drivel (though Hitler was such), the real danger is the reasonable propagandist, saying things that are only slightly different from a common belief, and spinning facts into 3/4 truths, and then spinning those till reality itself becomes uncertain.

It is only the former who can be legislated against, while the world is sliding into a black hole of the latter.

The only answer I can think of is the rally cry of “Bull Sh*t” when ever it is encountered and active opposition and outing of those who would follow Strausse’s advice. And if they decry the lack of “comity”, think of it as the criminal decrying judicial interference with his life.

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By historyfixer, February 23, 2006 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
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In Comment #4227, KEVIN SCHMIDT said:

“Lying about the truth and historical facts are not free speech under any circumstances.”

The entire Zionist movement was built on a lie: “A land without a people for a people without a land”, yet Zionists have been permitted free speech for over a century.

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By may the truth prevail, February 23, 2006 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
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I hope this makes the comments….

nobody should deny the holocust happaned, but to what extreme did it happen, what was the casulties of ww2, could be possible that 6 million jews were killed, people shouldnt be sent off to jail just for questioning the scale of the atrocities, and speaking of atrocities, why are we still standing around fighting and bickering over this issue, when more than 10 to 15 more holocusts are taking place as we speak, in Africa, in Asia, or PALESTINE where the people are stripped of their homes and land and not even given a place to crash, shot at and ran over by bulldozers to build settlements for european jews to come live on their land in Isreal, stripped of their human rights and not allowed to travel anywhere, why is it that every country in the world will not let any palistineans in, go ask your governments or airports, do they let in people with palestinean passports, oh wait those things don’t exist there is no palistean passport. where ever it is, haven’t we learned anything from the holocust, or are the jews the only people that we should care about what about the people under racist regimes at the time being??? cant we do something about them before them too will be history…........

just turn the other ear and pretend this horror doesn’t exist, just boo hoo keep crying for the jews, and give more money to the zionists to control what we do and how we do it…

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By moslema, February 23, 2006 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment
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Let me tell you my opiniona a moslem woman. Some of you said that for the west, God is but a fable and not a reality.  Ok. But for us moslems, God is a reality and his prophets, Moses, Jesus, and Mohamed are real. We bleieve in and respect all these prophets and many others before them. You will never find a moslem who dares to drew a cartoon about Moses or Jesus, because we believe in them as much as we believe in Mohamed. They are all messengers of the word of God.

Now, in my opinion, you are free to think and express your thoughts in your own societies, but, there is the fact that inside all your western countries, you have now increasing moslem communities who believe in God and the prophets, last of them being Mohamed. So insulting their belief is racism which, as I understand is prohibited by law in your countries. You are insulting parts of your societies.  This is how I see it and this is why I think the cartoons were wrong.

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By Andrew Boltman, February 23, 2006 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #4174 said that “teaching a false version of history” by Irving posing as a historian constitutes a crime and needs to be punished. Well, Irving should be free to publish his thoughts and the mighty free market will veto his ideas automatically without needing the court’s punishment. On the other hand, it is well known that Japan’s government has intentionally manipulated the history books of its school system, leaving out war crimes it committed in WWII. It manipulate the history to such an extent that the Japanese students nowadays believe it was right thing to colonize countries in Asia, for the betterment of its colonial subjects. How should Japan’s democratic government be punished in your opinion?

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By Marty Didier, February 23, 2006 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
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A few good comments that I enjoyed among the many others that were great.

“Free speach is often in the eye of the beholder”
by David Young

“The truth needs no laws to enforce it!”
by crusader bunnypants

Although this topic addresses an extreme case against “Free Thought” let us not forget that there are many varying degrees of “Expression” and “Free Thought”.  Almost in all of these varying degrees they are constantly under attack with intended interest (often hidden) to control them. 

One more recent and important attack is to control in anyway, shape or form the Internet with it’s less then FREE flowing news reports.  We have become interested in gathering our news from the Internet however even in the US many don’t realize that the Internet with Free Thought is being compromised.  The outspoken method of control is what recently was announced with China hiring “others” to install control systems.  Has anyone even stopped to think that this already has been going on in the US and other areas?

The other interesting point is that we’ve been listening to the mainstream news on TV for decades and now witnessing a comparison with the Internet demonstrates that TV/Cable news is somehow CONTROLLED.  Recent articles and visiting http://mediamatters.org will show more. 

What this spells out is that INFORMATION is POWER and “those in power” will do what they can to LIMIT INFORMATION.  It’s possible to detail explain many occurrences, especially those which target newly released articles questioning possible “Corruption Money Laundromats” that almost immediately were “blocked”, just for starters. 

So one side is that “others” want to control our input of information and another side is that “others” want us to act like we are “controlled”.  My thought is some of our problems are; few speak out, many don’t care and little is done to change more than obvious situations.  Hence, at the extreme, we have an outrageous situation that generates our comments on a webpage (like this one).  What I’m trying to explain is that there are efforts already underway to stop webpages (like this one) from existing.  Oh, they may be allowed to exist, but they will be blocked and no one will know they do exist!

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By Harrington, February 23, 2006 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
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I just got done reading the article and most of the posts. It seems to me that this comes down to an argument between the “free speech first” crowd, and the “holocaust denial goes beyond free speech into the realm of incitement to racial violence” group. I have to agree with the free speech folks. Call Irving a “denier” or call him a “revisionist,” as an historian myself I feel that I have to use the latter. History isn’t the dead subject full of rote memorization of dates that most people remember from high school. Upper level history is about unearthing new documents and using those, along with existing documents and pervious historical research to either add to and build upon existing perceptions of the past, or else to offer a counter-argument to the generally accepted story. There is no absolute “truth” in history—no black or white—just varying shades of grey. Someone says it happend one way, someone else says it happened another. Who’s right? Probably both, probably neither. I’m not trying to defend David Irving, nor am I attempting to support his viewpoint. In my mind, there is solid evidence that the Holocaust did, in fact happen. But to jail a scholar for doing his research and coming to a different conclusion from my own? That goes against the nature of historical scholarship. Aristotle said that “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” You don’t have to agree with that Irving says, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen. But the man should be free to say what he thinks.

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By Tom Dennen, February 23, 2006 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
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I do not like what you write, but will defend to the death your right to write.

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By Tom Dennen, February 23, 2006 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
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In his A Book of French Quotations (1963), Norbert Guterman suggested that the probable source for the quotation (I will defend to the death your right to speak) was a line in a 6 February 1770 letter to M. le Riche: ``Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.’’

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By historyfixer, February 23, 2006 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
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Irving is only a “crackpot British historian” if you buy the mainstream misconceptions about him. Whatever your opinion of him may be, even the judge in his libel case couldn’t fault his history:

“As a military historian, Irving has much to commend him. For his works of military history Irving has undertaken thorough and painstaking research into the archives. He has discovered and disclosed to historians and others many documents which, but for his efforts, might have remained unnoticed for years. It was plain from the way in which he conducted his case and dealt with a sustained and penetrating cross-examination that his knowledge of World War 2 is unparalleled. His mastery of the detail of the historical documents is remarkable. He is beyond question able and intelligent. He was invariably quick to spot the significance of documents which he had not previously seen. Moreover he writes his military history in a clear and vivid style. I accept the favourable assessment by Professor Watt and Sir John Keegan of the calibre of Irving’s military history (mentioned in paragraph 3.4 above) and reject as too sweeping the negative assessment of Evans (quoted in paragraph 3.5). But the questions to which this action has given rise do not relate to the quality of Irving’s military history but rather to the manner in which he has written about the attitude adopted by Hitler towards the Jews and in particular his responsibility for the fate which befell them under the Nazi regime.”

- http://www.fpp.co.uk/docs/trial/judgment/extract1.html

Irving’s sin as a historian is not buying, without question, the BS fed to us by the Holocaust Industry.

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By KEVIN SCHMIDT, STERLING VA, February 23, 2006 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment
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Lying about the truth and historical facts are not free speech under any circumstances.

To disclaim the holocaust is to support hatred, terrorism, and genocide.

The British crackpot is lucky he only got three years for his crimes.

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By pHROZEN gHOST, February 23, 2006 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Side Note:

Whether or not this response shows up in the comments section, will be a good idea of where this site stands on this VERY importanty issue.

Let us not forget the fact that there is a whole group of people that hide behind another larger group of people denying the existence of the officially created State of Palestine.

This thought crime is taken to the a further extreme when that group demands that the Academy Awards Officials relist “Paradise Now” - a film produced in the State of Palestine - as coming from a non-existent source.

Jewish does not begin with Z. Zionists are some of the very worst offenders yet they are the ones that control things.

It’s time to start punishing Palestine deniers.

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By m, February 23, 2006 at 11:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some peoples holocausts are more important than other peoples holocausts.  The past holocausts are more important than the holocausts that are going on now, here, today. 

After all, if we stopped the current holocausts what would their descendants have to gritch about?

So it is correct to focus on this man. Put him in jail, whether he is right or not, even though all he has done is talk and write, even though he has caused no physical harm to any person.  He should be ashamed.  Shot maybe.  Better yet, experimented upon.

But do not focus any such resources on the holocausts of today.  They are not worthy of such effort.  Do not stop the killing.  Do not stop the amputations.  Do not stop the starving.  No, only make use of this glorious sliver of the past.

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By Doug, February 23, 2006 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
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I used to believe in the official Holocaust account. I had no reason to doubt it.

However, when I heard that David Irving was being persecuted by Jewish organizations and that these Zionists had used terrorist threats to prevent the publication of his books, I started to look into why this was happening.

Never in history has the truth needed the government and laws to support it. The truth is a brain-seeking missile that succeeds in spite of governments, not because of it.

Therefore, I have to conclude that the Holocaust story must be a sham, a lie used to extort cash and political concessions from the stupid goyim. I now recognize the Zionist movement as the most evil and racist political system ever devised.

I must thank the Zionists for opening my eyes. If they had left things alone and let David Irving publish his books, I’d have never heard of them and thus would never have known the truth about the evils of Zionists and their fellow travellers.

If America is ever to become the land of the free again, we must exterminate the Zinoists and the democratic and republican whores who have sold America for 30 pieces of silver.

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By The End, February 23, 2006 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
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Incidents like this only make people such as me take a harder look at the Holocaust.  I used to think that Holocaust-“deniers” were full of it, but after learning more about the way the Israeli government has behaved over the last 50 years, as well seeing such unfittingly harsh punishments handed down to people who did nothing more than express an OPINION… well, now I really *do* wonder what the truth about the Holocaust is.

I find it very plausible that the Holocaust is exaggerated.  Look at all the lies in recent “official” history—Pearl Harbor, JFK, 9-11….Look at how hypocritical the Israelis are toward the Palestinians.  The Nazis were evil because they thought they were superior to everyone, yet Jews still claim that they are “God’s chosen people”?  Uhh, isn’t that similarity a little too close for comfort?! 

Look at the motto of the Mossad, Israel’s secret service: “By way of deception, thou shalt do war.”  Zionists have known for a long time that they can use Holocaust-claims as a political blank-check.  Any time Israel receives ANY criticism over ANYTHING, the critic is immediately denounced as “anti-Semitic” and being “against” Jews, and the debate is dropped.  Sorry friends, but even if the Holocaust DID happen exactly the way you say it did, that DOESN’T mean you have free reign to brutalize Palestinians and blackmail the U.S. into carrying out your orders at the drop of a hat.  Didn’t Jews learn ANYTHING from the Holocaust (OTHER than, “poor us, poor us, now all future humanity owes us whatever we want”?)?!

Israel is the brutal, hypocritical, and yes—FASCIST!—aggressor against Palestine, and more and more of the world is realizing it.  News items like this only show the world how unbalanced the relations are between Muslims and Jews, and it’s no surprise that this imbalance is in the Zionist Jews’ favor.  They like it that way.

If the Holocaust occurred as the Zionists claim it did, then the answer is simple: PRESENT YOUR EVIDENCE and that will end the issue.  (No, not “memoirs” by Jews that are taught in classes even after these books have been exposed as fraudulent!)  The fact that they want these people jailed only shows that they are VERY nervous about further claims being made—because then the Zionist’s blank-check is ripped to shreds and they can no longer play the role of eternal, angelic victim who gets away with whatever U.N. violations (Israel has more of those than Hussein’s Iraq did!) suit them at the time.

Let’s use this opportunity to take a closer look at the Zionist agenda.

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By Chill Bill, February 23, 2006 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
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Those who favor anti-Holocaust denials laws are worst than the nazis.

Worse because we are 60 years after the nazis and you should know better than to censor unpopular speech in 2006.

BTW, does it count as denial if I say that the jews were victims of their own Zionist leaders? Why no word on the 20 million people dead in Stalin’s gulags, or the millions of germans who were slaughtered by the russians and the americans after the war?

Some would say bringing these up is tantamount to Holocaust denial…

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By Henk, February 23, 2006 at 6:37 am Link to this comment
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Hmmm, am I right when I taste not a little of your superiority-complex? So you have freedom of speech. Really? Ask the inmates of Guantanamo Bay. Bet you do not even know their names, let alone their thoughts. Bet you enjoy your sleep while you should be awake because of their speechless masturbating on the command of soldiers you are paying with your taxes. Sure, Europe has one man behind bars because the words he utters are an affront to a government that has reached out to the families of millions of defenseless murdered Jews, with laws prohibiting a denial of the slaughter based on racism and fascism. Yes, in many European countries there is a bottomline on the freedom of speech - this freedom is not understood as a license to add insult to injury. But where is your bottomline? Guess it does not exist because you do not care.

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By Smallest Violin In The Wolrd, February 22, 2006 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment
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For the ill informed, these might interest you who think that Irving only denied the Holocaust 17 years ago, or that he never even did to begin with.  A short article on Irving’s historiography:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/irving-wrong/

An article on the 2000 Lipstadt trial:

http://www.holocaust-history.org/irvings-war/

Lipstadt’s book on the trial:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060593768/104-1516702-5548734?v=glance&n=283155

An webpage for the trial covering the background, the transcripts, the evidence against Irving (expert reports), and the verdict: 

http://www.hdot.org/ieindex.html

Irving has denied, continued to deny, and continued to encourage denial of the Holocaust due to his anti-semitic leanings and Nazi sympathies.  I was skeptical of the latter claims when I first encountered denial, but—after having read more about it, read more about him, and argued with deniers—I’m defintely less so. 

Comments like Mr. Murphy’s:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/antisemitic_cartoon_holocaustdenial_20060221/#4162

They hardly scratch the surface.  (Citing the court transcripts from Irving’s website, one wonders where Mr. Murphy gets his information.)  One, Irving certainly doesn’t accept the word “denial” just as no deniers have ever accepted it.  They prefer to be called “revisionists,” misnomer though it is.  Two, in the trial there was also extensive arguments with Irving over the legitimacy of the Auschwitz gas chambers, a good deal of transcript that he seems to miss.  Irving was, after all, a big proponent of the specious Leuchter report (which denied that there were extermination chambers in Auschwitz, claims that were quickly and easily discredited), a report that allegedly pushed him over the edge into full-fledged denial.  (There’s a great documentary about Leuchter called MR. DEATH by Oscar winning documentarian Errol Morris, which is well worth a look.)  In post-trial mini-suits, he even tried to use the Rudolph report (a document echoing and reinventing the Leuchter report), though he pulled it when a devastating rebuttal from a Dr. Richard Green was introduced into evidence.  (You can find Green’s rebuttals on the previously linked holocaust-history site.)  And three, the last example Mr. Murphy gives, undoubtedly an excerpt from Irving’s Hilter biography, is utterly discredited by the fact that Irving (post-Leuchter) excised a great many, if not all, references linking Hitler to the Holocaust.  If Mr. Murphy had also read more about the Lipstadt trial or Holocaust denial, he also would’ve heard about Irving’s infamous use of the Schlegelberger memorandum (a “diamond document” he called it), which Irving claims throws Hitler’s complicity into serious doubt, or exculpates him all together.  (He still champions it on his website.)  And four, claiming that he isn’t an anti-semite is just silly after all the evidence presented at the trial: a good many of his anti-semitic statements were read before the court, among them his claims that Holocaust survivors had lied or used the Holocaust to their benefit (“Madam, you’ll be happy to know that your parents didn’t die in the gas chambers,” and, “How much money did you make off that tatoo?”); his connections with extreme, anti-semitic, right-wing groups was covered; and (in a self-incriminating moment) he had a professor Kevin MacDonald come in (a favorite reference among anti-semites) to prove that Lipstadt was part of a broad, evolutionary, Jewish conspiracy against him.  And yet these are but a few examples among many.  He’s undoubtedly guilty, whether you agree with the sentence or not.

My take on it?  I think Irving certainly has played a significant part in furthering anti-semitism.  He’s a big name among them.  I don’t feel especially sorry seeing him go away for a few years, and I don’t take this as a serious blow to free speech.  As Stanley Fish’s book says, “Free speech doesn’t exist, and that’s a good thing.”  Though I don’t agree with Fish entirely, I do agree with one thing: speech doesn’t come from and disappear into a vacuum.  It has serious consequences and we should take them seriously.  On the other hand, I also have reservations with these anti-denial laws, less because of free speech, and more because I don’t know if their entirely effective or not.  Deniers, pathetic as it is, use them as evidence of their martyrdom, though I doubt that very many deniers have faced serious jail time, save for the big name folks like Irving.  I might be wrong.  Overall, however, free speech is serious, and hate speech is, too.  It’s an issue worth debating.

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By Denis Harahan, February 22, 2006 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment
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The cartoons were published as satire, humour, opinion, whatever…but not presented as a fact that is to be taught. Irving, in the guise of an historian, attempted to teach a denial of the Holocaust as fact, using false footnotes and offering unprovable “evidence.” 

If Irving had peddled his storey as opinion and not fact, I’d support the free speach issue. But last time I cheked, there was a big difference between fact and mere opinion.

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By refusedig, February 22, 2006 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #4127, it would seem, points out the complexity of this issue for Austrian society. We, it would seem, for the most part, are ignorant of these apparently agonizing tensions there.

This would appear to recommend caution in criticizing this legal decision as somehow reflecting a feeling of political necessity.

As Americans, however, we feel compelled to condemn any violation of our cherished values, the greatest, it would seem, being freedom of speech. But, as was pointed out, “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater.” This time-honored principle would then seem to possibly proscribe the speech of anti-Semitism in a place like Austria. And, indeed, in the light of all the suffering and deaths already caused, would it not seem wise for print publications not to publish cartoons, or pictures, or, just to be safe, anything about the Prophet Mohamed?

This might require the acquisition of sensitivity to such consequences for the lives of human beings around the world. But I can’t imagine that they are incapable of doing so, how about you?

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By Walter, February 22, 2006 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment
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I have heard it argued that the laws against denial of nazi atrocities were imposed on Germany and Austria after WWII by the occupying victorious forces.  It supposedly was a precondition for Germany and Austria regaining their souverainity and/or to shed their occupied status.  I would make sense that the victors of WWII had an interest to codify the bad conscience of the vanquished. So it comes also at no surprise that they codyfied what they wanted to be seen as truth also in their own laws.

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By Joey Green, February 22, 2006 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
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I am a US citizen living in Vienna for 6 years now.  My wife is Austrian.  I agree with this article in principle of course.  However, the writer must remember that this law was created after WW II at the behest of the occupying Allied forces and for good reason.  It is clear this law is no longer relevant and should be repealed.  However, even if the Austrian People wanted to repeal this law, do you seriously think this is politically viable?
What would the reaction be from the international community, specifically the Jewish community world-wide? You speculate, I care not too.

Austria today is a beacon of social and democratically evolving government systems.  If you want look at the stats.  Socialized medicine, college, great schools, daycare.  Financial support for parents who want to stay at home with the children, as well as strict environmental, farming and labor laws.

Moreover, Austria per capita takes in more immigrants than any other nation in the EU today.

In contrast, the United States which has a Constitution which it in principle cherishes, has none of these systems, and in reality has a population much less “free” that of the Austrians.

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By gar, February 22, 2006 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
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“I may not agree with what a man says; but I will defend to the death, his right to say it.” –Voltaire

In 1633, at the age of 72, Galileo wrote a book in which he expressed the Copernican view that the Earth circled the sun. This was contrary to the official Aristotelian geocentrism which proclaimed the Earth to be the center of all things; therefore, the sun circled the Earth.

Galileo was tried for this “crime” and sentenced to prison. Later, after agreeing to recant his belief and to never write of it again, Galileo’s sentence was commuted to house arrest for the rest of his life. He was still under this sentence when he died at the age of 83.

In 2006; Monday, February 20 to be exact, at the age of 67, British historian David Irving was found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry. This is not just a crime in Austria. It will also get you serious prison time in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

Irving had faced a sentence of ten years but received a lighter sentence after a formal, public apology in court. “I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz,” he told the court in the Austrian Capital before sentencing.

During the one-day trial, Irving was questioned by the prosecutor and chief judge, and answered questions in fluent German. He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed at the time. Later, after seeing the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organizer of the Holocaust, he said he changed his mind.

“I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn’t saying that anymore and I wouldn’t say that now,” Irving told the court. “The Nazis did murder millions of Jews.”  Irving said.

Despite this, Irving was still sentenced to three years.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust welcomed the verdict. “Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such,” Ms Pollock told the BBC News website.

However, the author and academic Deborah Lipstadt, whom Irving unsuccessfully sued for libel in the UK in 2000 over claims that he was a Holocaust denier, said she was dismayed.

“I am not happy when censorship wins, and I don’t believe in winning battles via censorship… The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth,” she told the BBC News website.

When pressed for a statement by reporters on Monday before the trail began Irving told reporters, “I’m not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I’ve changed my views.”

“History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989.”

After the trail, when asked about being sentenced to prison for expressing an opinion he said it was “ridiculous.”

“Of course,” he added, “It’s a question of freedom of speech …”

Since 1989, David Irving may have learned a lot but as demonstrated by most of the above comments, society as a whole hasn’t learned much since 1633.

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By Jeri Hurd, February 22, 2006 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
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That’s a specious argument.  Would we jail someone for saying the Civil War never happened?  Of course not, fallacious or no.  Then obviously there is another reason behind Irving’s trial, not mere prevention of falsehood.  Quite frankly, Judaism and their experience is privileged in Western society and granted protection not given to, say, Muslims.  We ostensibly attacked Iraq for failing to obey UN directives, but Israel has blatantly ignored the UN for years, with no penalties. 

Bob Scheer has once again nailed it—Muslims have serious cause for complaints against the West, and we would do well to listen.

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By Robert Moskowitz, February 22, 2006 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment
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I think generally that free speech should be pretty much unfettered. But there are good and practical reasons we all agree not to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. In the same way, there are good and practical reasons we should all agree not to deny that millions upon millions of people were killed for nothing more than their ethnic/religious background.

If David Irving wanted to say the Holocaust was a good thing, or that Germany shouldn’t have been punished for it, or that he would have given orders to do the same thing, or anything along those lines, I’d think he was a jerk but I wouldn’t want his speech stopped.

But there’s just something very wrong about saying that those millions of people were not killed: something wrong about hurting the feelings of the families of those millions, something wrong about contributing to a political and social climate in which millions more might be killed in the future, something wrong about white-washing the murderous activities of those who carried out those deaths.

It would be nice to live in a black and white world where certain simple rules can ALWAYS be acceptable. But we don’t, and sometimes even free speech has to be abridged in very narrow and specific ways. Crowded theatres are one way. Denying that millions were murdered is another.

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By NETTIE, February 22, 2006 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
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17 YEARS AGO.  GOOD GRAVY!  SHOULD ARNOLD SHWARZENEGER’S DAD HAVE BEEN HAULED OFF, OR PERHAPS HIS SON NOW?  WE’VE ALL GONE MAD, MAN.  LET’S ALL JUST GET A GRIP, SHALL WE?  LUNATICS, EXIST!  IF THEY ARE NOT ACTIVELY HURTING SOMEONE OR INCITING (WHAT AMOUNTS TO OTHER LUNATICS)MAYHEM, OR TEACHING NONSENSE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, YO!  THEY GET TO SAY AND THINK WHAT THEY WANT.  WE MAY WANT TO PUNCH THEM IN THE NOSE, BUT OUR RIGHT TO THAT STOPS AT THREATENING THEM TO THEIR FACE (THREAT=ASSAULT) OR THINKING IT.  CERTAINLY, THOSE DANISH EDITORS MAY BE PROSECUTED IF IT CAN BE SHOWN THEY WERE DELIBERATELY INCITING MAYHEM (METZGER SUCCESSFULLY PROSECUTED BY SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, AFTER A BLACK YOUTH WAS KILLED BY SKINHEADS HE “TAUGHT”)....I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAVE GONE ON IN THOSE EDITORS MINDS TO HAVE ALLOWED THIS…AT BEST AND WORST IT MAY HAVE BEEN IMPOLITIC AND UNETHICAL. THREATENING, ASSAULTING, BATTERING, KILLING, TORTURE, INCITING (VERY TRICKY) IS ALL WRONG…..OPPOSING THAT IT IS OR WAS WRONG IN THOUGHT OR SPEECH IS NOT.  IF SO, MUCH OF OUR ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE IN THE SLAMMER AND IT WOULDN’T BE A MINUTE TOO SOON TO MY WAY OF THINKING.  PEACE AND TOLERANCE, PLEASE.  MUST WE BE PRIMITIVE FOR ANOTHER GAZILLION YEARS?  ROBERT, THANKS FOR ANOTHER GOOD ONE, I APPRECIATE YOU.

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By Tom Murphy, February 22, 2006 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
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Lipstadt and others have shamelessly misrepresented the views of David Irving.

People might me surprized to discover that use of the term “Holocaust Denier” to describe David Irving is grotesque, manipulative and dishonest. Mr. Irving has documented evidence of the massive shooting of Jews and has written and talked about gassings taking place at Auschwitz. Withholding these facts is journalistic malpractice. What Deborah Lipstadt and others are doing is wrong.

What is being reported is inaccurate, for example in the year 2000, Irving said at the Libel Trial,”I do not deny that there was some kind of gassing at gas chambers in Birkenau, it is highly likely that there was.” http://www.fpp.co.uk/Legal/Penguin/transcripts/day002.htm
( Ref: “Birkenau” and “Auschwitz” is often refered to as “Auschwitz-Birkenau” or the “Auschwitz camp at Birkenau”) 

Irving has written, “If this biography were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Reich it would be legitimate to conclude “Hitler killed the Jews.” He after all had created the atmosphere of hatred with his speeches in the 1930’s; he and Himmler had created the SS; his speeches, though never explicit, left the clear impression that “liquidate” was what he meant. For a full-length war biography of Hitler, I felt that a more analytical approach to the key questions of initiative, complicity, and execution would be necessary. Remarkably, I found that Hitler’s own role in the “Final Solution”-whatever that was-has never been examined.” -David Irving London, January 1976
and January 1989

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By Richard, February 22, 2006 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
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Reading over the comments to your article, I see alot of disagreement, such as,

“It is not free speech to promulgate lies and hate.  That is why speech can be a hate crime in this county, as it should be,”
and other things along these lines which justify Irving’s sentence.

I can’t imagine how people reading your argument can respond with this type of nonsense. That Austria is a hotbed of anti-Semitism is not defense against free speech. Free speech as you obviously point out would not be necessary if the speech in question was not offensive to someone. The real problem lies in people’s ability to reason it seems. To them free speech is only acceptable when it is their speech that is in question.

I would imagine that a great deal of the anti-Semitism which exists in Austria still exists by and large because communities are reluctant to have a rational ‘grown-up’ discussion about it.

Furthermore, if you choose to, “also argue that the Civil War never happened? What about the horror of 9/11? Maybe that really didn’t happen. It was a gas leak,” more power too you. If we are going to start censoring speech lets start with Brenda who has already demonstrated her/his inability to conduct rational though.

Lastly, and least important, I think you do a disservice by writing,

“The value of an absolutist opposition to the censorship of speech, as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment…”

You are correct in saying that the First Amendment insinuates absolute opposition to censorship of speech, but you don’t point out that this has never been upheld in US courts and that censorship of speech has been practiced from nearly the very first year of the United States. I understand that your article is not a critique of the concept of ‘prior restraint’, however you mislead non-Americans and Americans-who-are-in-the-dark, into believing that the First Amendment actually protects free speech.

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By Pam, February 22, 2006 at 11:27 am Link to this comment
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I lost relatives in the Holocaust. I am totally freaked when I hear of people denying that it happened. Whenever anyone promotes this view, I think all people of good will should protest vigorously. That said, is the appropriate response to those sick or evil people who would make a practice of denying the Holocaust to imprison them for their speech or their writings? To do so seems to me to be a victory for the fascist ideology of government “uber alles” that promulgated the Holocaust in the first place.

I feel great empathy for the fury that many Muslims feel when they see the double standard embraced by so much of EuroAmerica. Why is it okay to lock up some people for exercising “free” speech while others are excused?

Thank you, Robert Scheer, for your voice of reason.

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By Paul Tracy, February 22, 2006 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
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While, abstractly, people may claim devotion to free speech, most of them do not like to hear—or have anyone else hear—views with which they strongly disagree.  This is true of the political right and the left.

A test of power takes place over allowing such views to be heard.

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By Rudy Moertl, February 22, 2006 at 10:31 am Link to this comment
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Anyone who denies that people kill people and in mass quantities should be sentenced to a three year term or more, because if they deny it, they must be the cause or the actual killers or planning to kill (if not in body than in spirit).  These people are also in contanst denial of the obvious reactions to such denials of absolute fact and faith in a higher power.  Terrorists watch out we know what you’re thinking and we will put you in jail!
Laws need to be the obvious expression of the absolute truth or we are lost. We must be able to get everyone to understand that and follow the devine rules of decency (Thou shallt not lie)!

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By Tony Wicher, February 22, 2006 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
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Oh boy, oh boy, do I agree with this! Thanks, Robert Scheer, for your uncompromising and principled stand for freedom of expression. This applies to antisemitism, “violence in the media”, flag-burning, “political incorrectness”, and all other forms of censorship. It is definitive of a feee society. There is no such thing as “going beyond the pale” in speech or thought or art. WHATEVER people say, no matter how odious and offensive it may be to some other people, is PROTECTED in a civilized society, so long as it it stays within the realm of speech, writing, painting, music or other forms of expression. Those who are offended also have every right to voice their objections in any way they want no matter how offensive to the other side, providing that they stay within the realm of expression. Muslim newspapers could have published cartoons showing the Danish cartoonists being beheaded, for example. Nobody would have minded or even noticed. That would have been the civilized thing to do.

Now as I see it the great majority of the rioters are just ignorant. They certainly don’t read Danish newspapers. Therefore, obviously, they were told about this and put up to this by their leaders, who are the Imams, Ayatollahs, Mullahs, etc. probably in collusion with Syrian, Iranian and other governments. 

Yes, this is a clash of cultures, and yes, those of us who believe in freedom and don’t wish to return to the 14th century must stand and fight for what we believe. But not by invading Iraq, for God’s sake. We must start by realizing and admitting that oil imperialism undermines our moral position. We need to develop energy independence and put our own house in order. There are intelligent, non-violent ways to conduct this fight, involving the political isolation of the extremists. Violence is what happens when people run out of ideas.

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By Chris Veith, February 22, 2006 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
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Comment 4143 says it all.  well put

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By Brenda REiss, February 22, 2006 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
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Holocaust denial does not fall into the realm of
free thought. Irving and his ilk are free to “think” what they want. Reporting their thoughts as history is another matter. In what way have his thoughts been taken away? It is his fallacious speech that has been stopped. It is a crime to shout fire in a crowded theater is it not? It is not a debate that this atrocity happened and it is not the same as a political cartoon. You are comparing apples with oranges. Would you also argue that the Civil War never happened? What about the horror of 9/11? Maybe that really didn’t happen. It was a gas leak.

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By ncm, February 22, 2006 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
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I agree with your basic premise that free speech either applies to everyone or, eventually, it will apply to no one. Taste is another issue, and a case could be made - and is made every day by editors around the world - not to publish some things which are in bad taste. But that’s part of an editor’s job.

In the cartoon case, the editor of a major danish newspaper had previously declined to publish cartoons which could be thought offensive to Christians, but actively sought to provoke Muslims by publishing material seriously offensive to their religion. It’s the double standard that galls.

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By Ari, February 22, 2006 at 8:45 am Link to this comment
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There’s a slight difference between the Muhammad cartoons and holocaust denial.  Millions of people died during the holocaust.  Is there a history of millions of people dying from cartoons being published?  NO!  Different rules/laws should apply to different situations.  The holocaust began, and was fueled, by anti-Semitic propaganda…from anti-Semitic people (just like Irving).  There is a documented past, a documented history which tells us that views like Irving’s can lead to holocaust-like events.  Not so with cartoons.  Were six million Muslims murdered over cartoons?  No.  Were six million Jews murdered over anti-Semitic beliefs?  YES.  Don’t employ a blanket view.  Evaluate each situation independently.  Six million Jews didn’t die for the world to stand by while people like Irving continue to preach Hitler’s views.

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By technodoaist, February 22, 2006 at 8:29 am Link to this comment
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What a charmingly naive statement.  Enforcement aside, Truth must be supported by Law.  Otherwise lies, deception, and obfuscation become legal.

Which example from recent/current history best displays this?  Take your pick…

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By AL, February 22, 2006 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
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It is not free speech to promulgate lies and hate.  That is why speech can be a hate crime in this county, as it should be.

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By Marlene Share, February 22, 2006 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
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Why am I unable to email this column (or any other, for that matter); I get a pop-up that says “You are not entitled to this option”.  ???

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By J.W. Miller, February 22, 2006 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
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I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Voltaire

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By herb rosenbaum, February 22, 2006 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
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Dear Bob,
The verdict against Irving was, in fact entirely predictable and clear according to Austrian law. But the real political reason is that Austria is still a hotbed of virulent antisemitism. Both in city and country districts. I know this from personal experience.
Irving has been a featured person in old jew-baiting circles for many years, holding lectures and propaganda meetings with salafists in Arab countries and with SS veterans in many european countries.
He claims he saw the light upon reading Eichmans papers. Why then did he continue spreading falsified information for the 20 following years?
In his book.“Hitler’s War” many of his footnotes have been shown to be false.
The question of Irving’s antisemitism was not even raised at the trial. And all motions to introduce it were disallowed as irrelevant.
It was of primary importance not to open the Pandoras box of present day antisemitism which is ubiquitous in austrian business circles and in upper austrian society including popular media personalities.
The trial was in this sense a cover-up for a deeper truth which could hurt the Austrian image.
It is also interesting to note that Henry Ford’s book from 1923(?) about world jewry’s plot to take over the planet(a Hitler favorite)as well as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were often quoted by Irving in his lectures.
Hey Bob, How about you making an expose of that side of things?
Best wishes from your old friend from the Coops,
Herb

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By David Young, February 22, 2006 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
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Free speach is often in the eye of the beholder. Four personal experiences:
While serving in The Royal Navy in 1946,  I was attacked and beaten up by a group of young Jews, outside a dance hall, in South-end-on Sea, England, for previously speaking out against the Stern Gang’s activities in (the then)Palestine, now Israel.

Attacked in Johannesburg in 1955 by six Afrikaanners, for speaking out against apartheid in a hotel bar.

Threatened in a Santa Monica bar, a year after 9-11 for suggesting that underlying cause of the attacks might possibly be that Arabs had suffered for so long, that they might prefer death as martyrs, and that if you couldn’t understand someone becoming a martyr for a cause, you hadn’t read the history of Christianity,  or of struggles for independence in countries throughout the world,  including Latin America where I now live.

1994, threatened in a bar in Toronto, by a German holocuast denier,  who maintained that only a few thousand had died in concentration camps. Was upset when I quoted Lenin as saying the deathof one person is a tragedy, after that it is a statistic.

Four countries, all claiming to support free speech.

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By Alma Kee, February 22, 2006 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
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“Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” —- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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By C Placci, February 22, 2006 at 4:28 am Link to this comment
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As usual,  these   are the only   articles that point in the   right   direction.

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By Dan Weisman, February 22, 2006 at 3:51 am Link to this comment
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Well argued points Robert. People must lead by example and argue vigorously and often against those obnoxious ideologies….like Mr. Irving’s and do so in in a free and SAFE public forum. Let the compassionate and just ideas be defended displayed in contrast with the hateful thinking ones in a transparent world. Promote TOLERANCE by PRACTICING it and defending it publically ...and perhaps those in opposition will come around…in time.

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By Matthew, February 21, 2006 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment
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Please put back the cartoons and their caption.

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By GeorgyBoy, February 21, 2006 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment
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I think its not just the cartoon that enraged the muslims. Perhaps its the double standards through which we judge the “Free Speech”

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By Ron Ranft, February 21, 2006 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment
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Ah yes, wrong thought, wrong speech..it should all be punished, maybe by death! And only I know what wrong thought and wrong speech is! And that is exactly what gets us back to another version of the Nazi’s. Irving is a good example of the large number of humans that cannot seem to grasp either evidence of large historical events or the small psychological or political freedoms that humans have inately.

These people are constantly complaining about being offended. They think that their right to not be offended is greater than anyones right to offend even if they are right. They ask that we “respect” their beliefs while they trash ours. i don’t have to be tolerant of people who harbor stupid, foolish, irrational beliefs about anything including their religion.

Irving is a small minded man who has only aided other small minded people to believe in what is not. How is he different than the Pope? How is he different then the President of the USA? These are people who claim to talk to someone that a lot of of us in the world find no proof of existence for. Should they be jailed for offending me? I wish that were the case but I am rational enough to realize that to do so would infringe upon my right to believe and say what I think.

The fact that you, and very few others have said anything against his sentence is an indicator of how little free speech we have left! We should be afraid but hey, I really don’t have anything to say anyway. Let’s just talk about the weather, unless that offends you!

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By Wade, February 21, 2006 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment
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The difference is obvious.  The prophet cartoons are a satire of a god.  Gods are not real, and in western society we are allowed to make fun of them.

The holocaust was real however - there is hard evidence, recorded history, even survivors.  And there are established laws that proscribe rewriting history related to the holocaust.  Break those laws, and go to jail - simple as that.

A better question might be - why were the islamic televised caricatures of rabbis as cannibals not protested, while the islamic cartoons were?

Could it be that western society is truly secular, and does not care about religion anymore?

One could hope.

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By crusader bunnypants, February 21, 2006 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
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The truth needs no laws to enforce it!

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