According to Germany's justice minister, Brigitte Zypries, Germany is going to propose that the EU to adopt laws criminalizing Holocaust denial and making such actions punishable by stiff prison sentences.
The minister very eloquently said "We have always said that it can't be the case that it should still be acceptable in Europe to say the Holocaust never existed and that six million Jews were never killed."
The proposal will also seek to criminalize racist declarations that are an incitement to violence against a person or group.
While I fully agree with the latter part of the proposal, i.e. that declarations that are an incitement to violence should be criminalized, I disagree with trying to criminalize Holocaust denial.
As readers of this blog in its previous incarnation [until Google screwed things up], know well, I am opposed to such laws because they violate free speech and, equally as important, are counter productive in that they make a martyr of the person who is charged.
Such was the case last month in England when David Irving returned from prison in Austria after having been held for 13 months for having denied the Holocaust. Since I was at Limmud in Nottingham, I was able to closely monitor the British media.
He was all over being interviewed and making pronouncements about the Holocaust. [Granted it was a slow news week.... but mefears that he would have gotten attention even if it had not been.]
Of course, these are the same pronouncements about which the UK High Court and four judges from the Court of Appeal said Irving "perverts,” and “distorts,” and his conclusions are “misleading,” “unjustified,” “travesty,” and “unreal.” [To see the way in which the court decimated Irving's claims go to www.hdot.org and click on Judgment on the left side of the page.
Instead of his temporary status as a media darling, Irving and other deniers should be free to say what they want [as long as they are not inciting others to commit violence] and equally free to sink in total and glorious oblivion. Let them talk to one another. They all deserve that.
It seems strange to be criticizing the Germans for taking this strong stand against Holocaust denial, I just think it is not a strategic way to respond.