Monday, February 20, 2006

Further Thoughts on David Irving

In principle I do not believe in laws which entail censorship. I believe in free speech and, moreover, I don't think such laws are efficacious.

However, having said that, I also recognize that Germany and Austria are sovereign states with a democratic system. And, more importantly, they have a unique history which gives Holocaust denial a different resonance in their country than it might in the United States or the UK.

David Irving brought this down on himself. He knew there was a warrant for his arrest in Austria. Nonetheless, he went there -- after posting the fact that he was going on his website and having the students who invited him announce it on their website. He knew the law in that country and yet he flagrantly violated it. As my friend Ken Stern said: if you don't like Thai drug laws, don't go to Thailand.

In essence, when he sued me for libel he did the same thing. Daring me to defend myself (and assuming I would not), he took me into court. I fought and exposed his tissue of lies.Finally, when all is said and done the way to defeat these kinds of lies is with what I do in the classroom and what we did in the courtroom during my trial in the UK: With the historical facts, the evidence, the testimony. In short with the truth.


Chelvis said...

He knew the law in that country and yet he flagrantly violated it. As my friend Ken Stern said: if you don't like Thai drug laws, don't go to Thailand.

Your friend Mr. Stern touches on a hugely important area of thought. I'd like to think that laws are best challenged (and when unjust, rescinded) thru their direct violation, which allows them to be ligitated upon, in a public forum. So did Martin Luther King Jr.,

The other way is thru the lengthier process afforded by democratic governmnent - petitions, popular referendum, electing leaders who represent your viewpoint, legislative debate, etc.,

I cannot agree with Mr. Stern as his belief that we should avoid places whose laws we think unjust: if you don't like Thai drug laws, don't go to Thailand comes too close, to my mind, with a belief like "If you don't like America's laws, leave America. Love it or Leave it." Sometimes true love of country comes with the honestly and courage to admit it's flaws, and try and change them.

Still suspicious of (Austro)Germans said...

Doctor Lipstadt: I am like you dismayed at the verdict but unlike you I am not "in principle" for free speech. I am for free speech, full stop. The Germans and Austrogermans with such speech suppressing laws once again demonstrate that they know what is wrong in their character but do not know what is right; do not understand the rights of man; do not know how to comport themselves consistently as free men, and thus the potential for dictatorship remains.

David Irving is a twisted, puny man. He is a stranger to honor and to integrity. He is a racist, a liar and a scoundrel. Condemnation and ostracism are his deserved lot, not state crime committed upon him, no matter how many millions on millions democratically approve.

Hume's Ghost said...

I've always believed that if you can't defend free speech in the worst case scenario then you don't really value free speech. Whether or not Irving is a curd (he is) is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not any country has a right to criminalize thought.

I know Austria wishes to protect the memory of those who lost their lives. That is commendable, but creating orthodoxy and dogma in their name is not the way to honor them. You honor them by remembering them and exposing the errors of someone like Irving. To truly honor the legacy of the Holocaust we must be able to understand and remember what happened - and if we allow laws to make it a taboo discussion then our belief becomes faith and can no longer be said to be knowledge.