February 21, 2006
Foolish Laws for Foolish People
I assume an important punitive element of David Irving's three year sentence for Holocaust denial will be that every time he complains about being in prison the guards will reply "No, you're not."
Heh. Three years for some cretinous comments this anti-Semitic tosser made fifteen years ago? Very silly, Austria, very silly indeed, and rather poor timing what with Europe's mainstream media at pains to stress the West's principled commitment to freedom of speech, in stark contrast to those excitable Musselmen, enraged to violence by some silly cartoons and nothing else! Be that as it may, there's really no justification for this. I know some claim that Holocaust revisionism amounts to racial vilification, implying as it does a dishonest conspiracy on the part of those who were witnesses to mass murder, but allegations of insinuation should not be sufficient to throw someone in the pokey. Even if I regarded anti-vilification laws as a sensible legal concept - and I don't - I'd still be concerned about allowing states to lock people up for subtext. And one might simply ask, how does Irving's expression of bizarre falsehoods do as much harm to anyone as imprisonment does harm to him?
Such prohibitions on denying the Holocaust also raise the sticky question of why this particular case of genocide should be so privileged, when any number of historians (and sociologists) have built careers on glossing over the atrocities of empires old and new, and the exterminations attendant on them. But, then, perhaps that's a good thing.