Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Right to Be a Repulsive Idiot

Yesterday in Austria, pseudo-historian David Irving was sentenced to jail for denying the Holocaust. Really makes you think about free speech, doesn’t it? And thinking is exactly what many are doing.

Michael Reynolds concludes that Irving is a creep but Austria is wrong.

While neo-neocon examines similar laws throughout Europe and debates why these laws are understandable and perhaps even useful.

And Joe Gandelman rounds-up the coverage and offers some poignant remarks of his own.

As for me, Holocaust-deniers make my blood boil. The “work” of men like Irving play right into the demented and destructive worldview of men like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As such, I won’t stay up nights worrying whether or not Irving is comfortable in his cell.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the Austrian law is bad. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, I can see a reason to have such a law to ensure the crimes of the Nazis were fully exposed and their ideology thoroughly washed from the land. But now the law seems out-of-place, particularly as many in the West argue for the right to offend and even demean Muslims (in cartoons or otherwise).

The only way to ensure truly free speech is to give all speech a wide berth. Even speech that we find repulsively ignorant.


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