February 21, 2006

Another wonderful win for freedom of speech in Europe!

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4734648.stm

Right on the back of some Muslims being mightily miffed, famed Holocaust-denier David Irving was sentenced to a prison term in Austria.

Now David Irving's crime is, essentially, shitty scholarship. He deliberately misinterpreted and twisted the available data, tried to undermine existant scholarship on the most spurious of grounds and went some lengths to falsify information in order to polemicise the issue. Deborah Lipstadt (and others) have brought good rebuttals to his work (well ironically so in Lipstadt's case). But in essence his work and arguments were no different from a piece of work such as From Time Immemorial. There are plenty of works of dubious scholarly worth, claiming to be scholarship, that pass under the radar or are even praised for their claims (see again Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial).

It will be interesting to see how this sentence adds to the ongoing debate.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Correct me if I'm wrong: he broke the law. He was tried, found guilty and sentenced. Whilst it may seem disproportionate, the fact is he committed what the Austrians believe to be a serious crime, and they punished him as they saw fit.

    I'm watching this story with interest!

    21 Feb 2006, 08:50

  2. I'm not a fan of the whole situation, and think there are freedom of speech issues, but I think there is a fundamental difference here. He went to Austria, where Holocaust denial is against the law, to spread his beliefs and twisted ideas, whereas the cartoonists essentially only spread their twisted ideas in Denmark. If they had done so in Iran or one of the other countries under Islamic law, I'm sure they would have been arrested.

    However, I equally believe that it shouldn't be a jailable offence to deny the holocaust, as it doesn't in itself incite violence or hatred. Allowing people like David Irving to have their work published and properly critiqued, allows them to be exposed for the fools and liars that they are.

    21 Feb 2006, 11:22

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