Monday, January 16, 2006

Let him fade into obscurity

I've been meaning to write for a while about what I think is the absurdity and the danger of the nauseating David Irving sitting in an Austrian jail after being arrested in November last year over two speeches he made in 1989, during which he allegedly claimed there had been no gas chambers at Auschwitz.

But hold, there is no need for me to feel I ought inadequately to sally forth because Deborah Lipstadt (the American Jewish academic who dramatically crushed Irving in the British courts when he sued her for libel after she published as book that described him as "one of the most prominent and dangerous Holocaust deniers") has given an interview to the BBC in which she expresses opinions exactly congruent with mine.

"I would not want to see him spend more time in jail."

"I am uncomfortable with imprisoning people for speech. Let him go and let him fade from everyone's radar screens."

"Generally, I don't think Holocaust denial should be a crime, I am a free speech person, I am against censorship."

"I don't find these laws efficacious. I think they turn Holocaust denial into forbidden fruit, and make it more attractive to people who want to toy with the system or challenge the system. "

"We don't have laws against other kinds of spoken craziness. If you're a medical quack and you hurt someone, there's a law against that.
"But if you're a medical quack and you stand on the street corner preaching that you have an elixir that cures cancer and saves lives, no one throws you in jail."

"Germany and Austria are not so far past the Third Reich. So I can understand that the swastika symbol, Mein Kampf, Holocaust denial, being a neo-Nazi and all the rest have a certain potency there that they would not have in the United States.
"And Austria is a democracy. If the citizens of Austria were against these laws, they could change them. Austria and Germany are different, but I would not support those laws being instituted elsewhere."

"I am not interested in debating with Holocaust deniers," she says. "You wouldn't ask a scientist to debate with someone who thinks the Earth is flat. They are not historians, they are liars. Debating them would be nonsensical.
"But we also should not allow them to become martyrs. Nothing is served by having David Irving in a jail cell, except that he has become an international news issue. "

"Let him go home and let him continue talking to six people in a basement. "

"Let him fade into obscurity where he belongs."


I'm not sure that I agree about Austria and Germany but I can see it is a point worth discussing, in general though she lines up all the ducks and then knocks them over. Bang, bang, bang, brilliant.

I was also pleased and surprised to find that she has a blog at http://lipstadt.blogspot.com/
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