Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Irving's sentence: not just a question of free speech

I think one of the things that has been lost sight of in discussion of Irving's sentence is that the judge clearly thought that he was lying and playing with the court when he claimed to have stopped being a Holocaust denier as of the 1990s.

The judge was very familiar with my trial. He knew that Irving had me in court in 2000 and then again in 2001. How could Irving have stopped being a denier in the 1990s if he had me in court in 200.

The judge knew Irving had all sorts of denial material on his website as of 2005. And he may have been aware that Irving planned to go to New Zealand in 2004 to argue there were no gas chambers.

In short, there may well have been an issue of perjury here and not just free speech. Irving, as I have said earlier, seems to me to think he can say what he wants with no consequences.

During my trial Irving repeatedly claimed a document said X when it said A or vice versa. At one point the judge grew so exasperated with his claims that he said to him: "But it (the document) does not say that Mr. Irving.

It seems to me that judges really hate it when they are toyed with.

This was a lark for Irving. But it did not turn out that way.


Dave said...

I think David Irving thought he would find a sympathetic hearing in Austria, and that the judges would give him an opportunity to make a mockery of their Holocaust denial laws.

He thought this would be like Hitler's trial in 1924, where the judges and prosecutor were on Hitler's side, and let him use the trial as a forum to denounce Versailles and the Weimar government.

Instead, Irving got hammered, and from what little I've seen, it looks like the Austrian judges were a lot harsher in the courtroom than Judge Gray. But it ended the same way.

I agree...Irving was being sentenced not for denying the Holocaust but for committing perjury in the courtroom.

Bob M said...

Thank you for the information, but I don't know if I can fully accept the lark theory yet, for the man seems to know how to stir the pot on a big scale.

As I see it, he might be stirring the larger Islamic/West controversy, for he thinks that his conviction will show the hypocrisy of the West to the Islamic world. I'm just guessing, of course, for I am looking for something rational here.

I can see the suggestion of an irrational quirk in him that couldn't measure consequences. And it might just be the only factor. But I am keeping the other factor in my mind to see how things unfold. He seems to want to go from historian to historical player.

Brian said...

Was the law Irving was convicted under passed after the incident? Some are claiming the law was passed in 1992 and the incident occured in 1989.

Do you have information on this?

Hilary Ostrov said...

The law which Irving chose to contravene in 1989 was passed in 1947. I believe that 1992 was the year that Irving was fined in Germany for similar activitities (but I could be wrong about this part!)

Orac said...

If Irving, weasel that he is, committed perjury, then let the Austrian court try him for perjury.

Tacking time onto an already unjustified sentence for speech sends exactly the wrong message.

Dave said...

Bob, what you say does make a certain amount of sense...there was an article in the British anti-racist magazine "Searchlight," which indicated that Irving saw himself as more than a mere historian, but as a political leader and thinker. He formed a right-wing political party and its magazine was called "Focal Point," now the name of his publishing house.

It fell on its face, of course, but I wouldn't discount the man's ambitions...playing amateur psychologist here, I've noted that he lacks self-esteem, so he builds up his own importance...the connection to the British Empire days...the pompous web site...the equally pompous declarations about his reputation and the immense forces that are seeking his destruction...his ridiculous claims.

So I wouldn't put it past him to think that he saw it as a lark and also as an opportunity to again try to rebuild his importance, which has certainly declined in the last five years.

Thanks to Deborah, every reference to him describes him as a "disgraced historian" and "proven racist." It's a more serious version of how Bill Buckner is forever linked to one botched ground ball.

Instead of lecturing at universities and pushing his books on C-Span and Jay Leno, he's lecturing to 12 silent atheists at an Alabama Holiday Inn and pushing his books as free and downloadable on his web site...so why bother to even buy the darn things from him at that Holiday Inn? He also lost his huge flat in Mayfair with the "War Room."

So I suspect there's some validity in what you say.

But Deborah wrote in her book that at one point, Anthony Julius himself said, "I've given up guessing what this guy is going to do." Irving leads the league in wacky behavior.

By the way, if memory serves, that incident came after Irving tried to admit a plan of the Colditz POW camp with its delousing chamber (for POW clothing) as one of his exhibits. What it was supposed to prove, I'm not sure, but I think it was that the Germans deloused everybody.