Friday, November 18, 2005



Potsherds were not invented for the likes of him

That was the comment of one comic poet on the Ostracism of Hyperbolos at Athens in around 417 BCE. He was considered "beneath" the punishment. The same applies to David Irving, currently being held in Austria on charges of Holocaust denial. Irving is a jerk, a fraud, and an anti-semite, but he shouldn't be in jail for it. Quite apart from the strong freedom of speech arguments (which I covered here, when he was planning a trip to New Zealand), the threat of imprisonment dignifies him. It gives his views far more credence than they deserve. Potsherds weren't invented for the likes of Hyperbolos, and prisons weren't invented for the likes of Irving. He should be allowed to make a fool of himself in public (and incidently provide a platform for people to prove it) as much as he wants.

10 comments:

I'm not too sure that one should
uncritically view David Irving as
a proponent of free speech.

Remember what he tried to do to
Deborah Lipstadt when she
denounced him as a holocaust
revisionist? He tried to sue her.

Happily, it boomeranged, but I
still think we should be wary of
according him some sort of anti-
censorship plaudit because of the
Austrian case.

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/19/2005 11:03:00 AM

David Irving isn't a proponent of free speech - but I am, and it means sticking up even for people like him.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/19/2005 11:24:00 AM

>but I am, and it means sticking up even for people like him.

I think you will find that even taking that position will soon be illegal too.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/19/2005 09:44:00 PM

Craig Y: blame the Austrians, they're the ones who just made Irving into a poster boy for freedom of speech. Dumbass hate-speech laws - guaranteed way of making yourself look worse than the guy you're trying to shut up.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 11/20/2005 06:17:00 AM

Milt (and IS), are you aware that
Irving was exposed as a fraud
who fabricated and misinterpreted
historical documentation in order
to make fellow neofascists look
good, and also owes Professor
Lipstadt two million pounds for
his abortive court case?

I'm afraid this isn't a straight-
forward case. If it were a matter
of competing evidence-based
interpretations of documents or
information, I might agree with
you.

However, Irving is a charlatan.
Nothing more.

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/20/2005 01:53:00 PM

I'm not sure that one should uncritically accept the Austrian Government as an arbiter of historical integrity.

After all, we are talking about a nation with a nasty history of obstruction, harassment and intimidation of those who ask too many questions about what the powerful and well-connected did during the War.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 11/21/2005 07:08:00 AM

Craig: I don't think we should accept any government in that position. As Turkey shows, they just have too much temptation to lie in their own self-interest.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/21/2005 09:10:00 AM

The fact remains though, Irving is
a certified charlatan, and was
exposed as one at great length.

I'd be far more satisfied with
this debate if there was adequate
attention paid to why Irving's
past mendacity does make this
more than a black and white
free speech issue.

Holocaust revisionism is junk
'history.'

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/21/2005 10:56:00 AM

You should be locked up for making comments like that Craig Y.

Posted by Christiaan : 11/21/2005 02:10:00 PM

Craig: I'm quite aware that he's a fraud - that's why I call him one above. But that's not something he should be in jail for (or rather, if the Austrian government believes he meets the tight legal definition of "fraud", then they should charge him with that, not with a bullshit crime like hate speech).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/21/2005 02:27:00 PM