Monday, February 20, 2006

First Amendment ignored by foreigners

Oh well. While I'm still a firm believer that all speech should be allowed (except the standard American exceptions) on the old theory that it makes it easier to spot the idiots, I'm somehow not bothered that David Irving was sentenced to three years in Austria--oh, sorry, three years in an Austrian prison--today for Holocaust denial. What a hypocrite I am. Heil, mein Fuehrer!

Irving: "Heil myself!"

Update: Wretchard, on the other hand, is bothered:

Having established that Dachau at least existed, I still cannot sympathize with the Holocaust Denial Laws under which historian David Irving was convicted. The Times of London reports on his conviction and sentencing in Austria.

The sincerity of David Irving’s claim that he now believes millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis and that gas chambers did exist was challenged by his twin brother yesterday.

John Irving is so unidentical to the right-wing historian and Holocaust denier that he serves as chairman of Wiltshire Racial Equality Council.

Asked about his brother’s recantation before a Vienna court, John Irving told The Times: “If I said ‘E pur si muove!’ would it mean anything to you?”

The quotation is often attributed to Galileo who was forced by the Inquisition in 1633 to retract his heretical belief that the Earth moves around the Sun.

The astronomer and philosopher was facing the death penalty but escaped with life imprisonment after disowning his findings. Under his breath, he is reputed to have murmured the now famous Italian phrase meaning: “Yet still it moves.”

These Holocaust Denial laws are the poorest defense of truth possible. They allow individuals like Irving, who have written bad history, to clothe themselves with the appearance of martyrdom. Galileo is supported by empirical evidence. Irving cannot even explain the photographs [of Dachau] above. But laws establishing "official truth" create categories of the Unmentionable into which subjects like the Jihad, feminism, abortion and Global Warming -- all the assertions, half-truths and humbug of the world -- will presently seek refuge. The best defense of the truth of the holocaust is an uncompromising commitment to free speech. Unless free speech is protected then some of the very evils Hitler sought to foist upon the world will be reintroduced in the name of fighting his memory.

No comments: