Saturday, December 17, 2005

In Denial

I want to compare and contrast some things that happened in the week with regard to my special hobby horse of the insanity of laws against expressing opinions no matter how ridiculous or even bad these opinions may be.

Firstly, the Istanbul trial of Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk - who faces a possible three-year jail term for "insulting Turkish identity" by saying that a million Armenians were killed in massacres 90 years ago and 30,000 Kurds in recent decades - was adjourned on Friday to give the Justice Ministry time to decide whether the case was in line with judicial procedures.

Secondly earlier in the week, the new Iranian president gave vent once more to his views on Israel and the Jews:

Speaking at a gathering in the southern Iranian town of Zahedan (Sistan va Baluchestan Province), Ahmadinejad said, "Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets".
"The Europeans say that during the Second World War six million Jews were killed, and they are determined in their claims to the point that even when scientists question them they deal with such scientists and jail and punish them", he added.

I checked out his assertion about jailing and punishing, well at least as far as looking at Wikipedia which says:
Public denial of the Holocaust is a criminal offence in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland, and is punishable by fines and jail sentences.
I simply can't understand what essential difference there is between those laws and the Turkish ones that are exercising the EU so. Why should such a denial should be a crime? Indeed it seems to me that it is more likely to lend some sort of mad credence to the claims of lunatics, rabble rousers and conspiracy theorists.

What am I missing?

Further I feel a sort of pressure after writing to words above to demonstrate that I'm not a holocuast denier myself. Can that be healthy?

To pluck a random and trivial illustration from the air, when I was a boy I read Michael Bentine's autobiography and was amazed to find that he was among the troops who liberated Belsen and that a man could go on to a career as a comedian after witnessing such horrors. I deny the Holocaust not.

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