Saturday, January 21, 2006

Irving's Trial and the Free Speech Argument

Since reading the article in The Times [London] which condemned the forthcoming trial of David Irving in Austria on the grounds of free speech, I have been troubled by something. A lot of people seem to assume that I am opposed to the trial. I am not. Austria is a democracy whose people can pass or reject any law they wish. Their judiciary is, as far as I know, completely independent.

I cannot therefore say that the trial is "wrong" or "undemocratic."

Simply put my position is: 1. I don't like laws against Holocaust denial on two grounds.

2. I don't like the idea of censorship because it is contrary to the concept of Free Speech and because I think it makes the forbidden speech more -- not less -- alluring.

3. This whole thing is not smart from a strategic perspective.

1 comment:

Uriah Robinson said...

I had been considering your reported comments that Irving should be released by the Austrian authorities to return home to obscurity, a well deserved obscurity.

Unfortunately "home" is England, where we do have some major problems at the moment. The Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks in a recent broadcast spoke of a "tsunami of antisemitism" in Europe.
In the World Cup in Germany fascist groups plan to abuse England's black soccer players.[report in today's Sunday Times].
The head of the neo-facist anti-immigration British National Party Nick Griffin is on trial for stirring up race hatred in his speeches.
Abu Hamza, a much more dangerous man, is also on trial at the same time for similar offences, and being in possesion of terrorist material. He justifies suicide bombings while ! standing in a British court!

The so called "clean skins" of 7/7 turn out to be nothing of the kind , but another security service failure.

Do we want Irving to be added to this mix?

Frankly I don't know, even though all my gut reaction is for free speech, even for Irving. Something he, and Hamza, and Griffin would deny to us.

The recent sight of David Duke speaking in Syria was chilling, and showed how antisemitism will link strange bedfellows, who think they can use each other for their own warped agenda. Irving could well join the Syrian-Iranian lecture circuit, and Ahmedinejad's pseudo academic conference. I don't think you will be receiving an invitation to attend!

I think you are right if Irving is out there spouting his views reasonable people, the very silent majority, will be able to see the reality of his politics, and what a sad pathetic man he has become.