Vive Le Canada

Protecting The Rights Of A Holocaust Denier Ultimately Protects Us All
Date: Friday, February 24 2006

Protecting The Rights Of A Holocaust Denier Ultimately Protects Us All
Free speech, even if it hurts

By Michael Shermer

"More women died in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz."

Is this line more offensive to Jews than an editorial cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a turban bomb is to Muslims?

Apparently it is, because the editorial cartoonists are still free, whereas the man who made this statement - British author David Irving - was sentenced this week to three years in an Austrian jail for violating a law that says it is a crime if a person "denies, grossly trivializes, approves or seeks to justify the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity."

That Irving has been, and probably still is, a Holocaust denier is indisputable. In 1994, I interviewed him for a book on Holocaust denial, and he told me that no more than half a million Jews died during World War II, and most of those because of disease and starvation. In 2000, Irving lost his libel suit in Britain against an author, and the judge in the case called him "an active Holocaust denier, anti-Semitic and racist." And in April 2005, I attended a lecture he gave in Costa Mesa at an event sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, the leading voice of Holocaust denial in the U.S. There he joked about the Chappaquiddick line and, holding his right arm up, boasted: "This hand has shaken more hands that shook Hitler's hand than anyone else in the world."

The important question here is not whether Irving is a Holocaust denier (he is), or whether he offends people with what he says (he does), but why anyone, anywhere should be imprisoned for expressing dissenting views or saying offensive things. Today, you may be imprisoned or fined for dissenting from the accepted Holocaust history in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.,0,2752813.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 24, 2006]

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