Monday, February 20, 2006

First thoughts

Once again David Irving has brought his house of cards down on himself. First he sued me for calling him a Holocaust denier and ended up with his reputation in tatters.

Then he went off to Austria to tweak the Austrian authorities by testing the law and he got himself arrested.

Nonetheless, given how I feel about the efficacy of censorship laws and laws against Holocaust denial, I understand the jury's inclinations -- they were Austrian after all -- but I am not pleased.

This does not seem like a good thing.


YMedad said...

I'm sure you are feeling a great deal of satisfaction that truth has proven right and, as we say in Hebrew, that justice shall not only be done - but seen to be done.

Valerie Loughney said...

Yes, but his final words in the BBC article just released are

"Of course it's a question of freedom of speech... I think within 12 months this law will have vanished from the Austrian statute book,"

I don't know about you, but if someone were to be the champion of free speech and overturn censorship laws I would not want it to be Irving, nor anyone on these grounds; because it would then be a double victory for him and denial. I think he will now be looked at as a martyr not only from his supporters, but to others who are simply advocates of free speech, and that to me is the most disturbing part.

Orac said...

"This does not seem like a good thing."

That's an understatement! It's a horrible thing to put someone in jail for three years solely for their speech.

Hilary Ostrov said...

I agree that it is a "horrible thing"; although it is no less horrible than those who attempt to muzzle freedom of speech by suing their critics for libel - as Irving indisputably did.

Nonetheless, let's not lose sight of the fact that Irving chose to deliberately place himself in the situation which led to this result.

Laws against Holocaust denial are, IMHO, counterproductive. But either one obeys the law of the land, or one takes the appropriate route to change it. If one chooses to flout the law - as Irving indisputably did - one does so at one's peril.

Years ago, a number of people who objected to serving in Viet Nam chose to flee to Canada, rather than serve their country. I doubt that many (if any) of them ever tried to re-enter the US once they were here, because they knew they would be subject to imprisonment for contravening the draft law at the time.

So I am less concerned about Irving spending more time in jail than I am about his choices ultimately providing more fuel for the deniers as martyrs camp. Not to mention the media circus that his appeal is likely to generate.