Holocaust denial is a crime

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  • Thread starter jhe1984
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  • #1
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I'm not from Europe or Jewish, so I probably do not have the correct perspective, but what's up with this? Apparently you can't deny the Holocaust ever happen in certain countries - I did not know that.

This guy is clearly a lousy historian, an arsehole, and most likely a narcissistic racist, but should he be jailed? I'm not saying he shouldn't, just asking for your opinion. Three years does seem like an awfully long time. What about a revocation of his teaching certificate, or travel ban, or fine? And does anyone find this thing slightly contradictory to the way that the papers handled the Islam free speech debate?

Really not trying to stir up a hornet's nest, just curious...


**BBC**

Holocaust denier Irving is jailed

British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison.
He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on a speech and interview he gave in Austria in 1989.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court in the Austrian capital.

Irving appeared stunned by the sentence, and told reporters: "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal."

An unidentified onlooker told him: "Stay strong!".

Irving's lawyer said he considered the verdict "a little too stringent".

"I would say it's a bit of a message trial," said Elmar Kresbach.

But Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK's Holocaust Educational Trust disagreed. "Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such," Ms Pollock told the BBC News website.

Fears that the court case would provoke right-wing demonstrations and counter-protests did not materialise, the BBC's Ben Brown at the court in Vienna said.


I'm not an expert on the Holocaust
David Irving
Irving arrived in the court room handcuffed, wearing a blue suit, and carrying a copy of Hitler's War, one of many books he has written on the Nazis, and which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

Irving was arrested in Austria in November, on a warrant dating back to 1989, when he gave a speech and interview denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

He was stopped by police on a motorway in southern Austria, where he was visiting to give a lecture to a far-right student fraternity. He has been held in custody since then.

'I've changed'

During the one-day trial, he was questioned by the prosecutor and chief judge, and answered questions in fluent German.

He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed, until he later saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.

"I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving told the court.

"The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."

In the past, he had claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little, if anything, about the Holocaust, and that the gas chambers were a hoax.


COUNTRIES WITH LAWS AGAINST HOLOCAUST DENIAL
Austria
Belgium
Czech Republic
France
Germany
Israel
Lithuania
Poland
Romania
Slovakia
Switzerland

In 2000, a British court threw out a libel action he had brought, and declared him "an active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist".

On Monday, before the trial began, he told reporters: "I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views.

"History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."

Asked how many Jews were killed by Nazis, he replied: "I don't know the figures. I'm not an expert on the Holocaust."

Of his guilty plea, he told reporters: "I have no choice."

He said it was "ridiculous" that he was being tried for expressing an opinion.

"Of course it's a question of freedom of speech... I think within 12 months this law will have vanished from the Austrian statute book," he said.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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In Europe, if you were to get on a computer and post in forums that the Holocaust never happened - could you be arrested? What if you had a webpage?
 
  • #3
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That is a pretty dumb law. If people don't want to believe it, who cares?
 
  • #4
DaveC426913
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The crime is not "denying the Holocaust", the crime is "spreading racial hatred".

This article seems to phrase it as if it's the actual denial that's illegal, but I suspect (though without facts to back it up) that a closer, less editiorial look at the case will reveal that the actual crime is the racist poo-flinging that is used to express the opinions.
 
  • #5
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I wouldn't be surprise if Iran has a law aganist holocaust acceptance...
 
  • #6
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DaveC426913 said:
The crime is not "denying the Holocaust", the crime is "spreading racial hatred".
I don't know what the law explicitly says, but the article says "guilty of denying the Holocaust", not guilty of spreading hatred. If the crime is indeed to express an opinion on whether the events happened or not then I don't understand this law. It flies in the face of freedom of expression. It makes no sense to me that you can voice an opinion on the existence of God but not the existence of an event. And given other recent news, I'm glad to see that Denmark is not in the list of countries with such a law because I would have seen this as hypocritical.

Having said this, the geography of the relevant countries shows that it was obviously passed based on local events and on local wishes of the population. I'm sure very strong emotions played a part. So while I can understand this part, I still could not agree with it in principle. Like I said elsewhere, let people express what they want to express. The opinion of other people may offend you, but you are not obliged to agree with it. Grow up and get over it.

Of course if the crime is not what the news story reports then we are discussing from a false premise.
 
  • #7
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Yes it is against the law in Austria to denying the Holocaust... He was falsifying historical documentation and spreading lies about what happened. The Holocaust is fact, and the reasoning behind the law is so that our children are taught about what happened so we can avoid anything as evil to happen again, and the people of Germany can confront there demons head on.

Its a strange one, but I understand the reasoning behind a law like this, why would anyone want to deny the Holocaust with good intensions? In other countries (Canada I believe) have laws against spreading false news, which is basically what this law is doing, however it is direct in its agenda of stopping false claims regarding the holocaust..

In most "developed" countries people have freedom of speach, however you have to be responsable with your freedom, you cant slander people in public with a carte blanc that you wont be sued...

Irvine knew the law, he should have respected it, he will only get 1-2 years.. big deal!
 
  • #8
DaveC426913
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Orefa said:
I don't know what the law explicitly says, but the article says "guilty of denying the Holocaust"...
This is my point.

I would take the article with a grain of salt - I do believe it is putting a bit of a spin on events.
 
  • #9
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Anttech said:
He was falsifying historical documentation and spreading lies about what happened.
Those who say the earth is flat are falsifying scientific documentation and spreading lies about its correct shape, yet it is not illegal. The obvious difference is the atrocity level. A law that prevents those who want to burry and forget the past from doing so may be expedient towards this end. What I would find more appropriate is mandatory inclusion of the events into school books instead, along with all other mandatory materials kids must learn.


Anttech said:
In other countries (Canada I believe) have laws against spreading false news
I don't believe there are laws against spreading false news in North America, otherwise a lot or tabloids would be out of business. Except for libel laws of course, which do forbid direct harm to someone's reputation. But I cannot think of a law that keeps me from telling everyone about the Martian I keep in my bath tub. Oops, I spoke too much.
 
  • #10
DaveC426913
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Again, I do not believe the legality of it is so much about the falsity of the facts as it is about the hate that goes along with it.
 
  • #11
Art
Seven european countries have specific laws making holocaust denial and / or trivialising Nazi attrocities a crime.

This offence was also included in the the draft proposal for a harmonised EU law covering racism and xenophobia but Britain has said it will not agree to this.

Britain is opposing European moves to make denying or trivialising Nazi atrocities a criminal offence.

Proposals by Brussels would make racism and xenophobia serious crimes in Britain for the first time, carrying a prison sentence of two years or more.

Europe wants to harmonise laws before a new arrest warrant comes into force in 2004. This will allow police to send citizens of the 15 member states for trial anywhere in the EU without old-style extradition procedures.

Among the crimes for which the warrant would be issued are racism and xenophobia. But these do not exist as specific offences in Britain or in some other EU states.

The draft plans define racism and xenophobia as an aversion to individuals based on "race, colour, descent, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin".

An offence of "public denial or trivialisation of the crimes dealt with by the international military tribunal established in 1945" is also proposed.
Angela Eagle, a Home Office minister, said: "Whilst we recognise the significant degree of offence that this kind of material causes to many people, particularly the Jewish community, the Government does not support the idea of an absolute offence."

She said the Government also opposed the proposed extent of the law. It could cover many stand-up comedians and even Anne Robinson, who said on BBC television that she regarded the Welsh as "irritating".
I can understand perhaps why Germany and Austria would have laws banning holocaust denial but personally I'm not convinced it should be applied to all of the EU.
 
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  • #12
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Whether it's for spreading racial hatred, denying the Holocaust, or teaching things which are flat-out false, one thing is certain to me: he should not be in prison. At best, he should be held civilly accountable for libel. This is just one step closer to having Thought Police.
 
  • #13
It's illegal in some places to be a racist or xenophobe? That's just as rediculous as the people they want to imprison.
 
  • #14
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It is just the context of the entire matter. It is trival for a person to say the Earth is flat, because he is just insane or stupid, or a genius in some cases. However when a person says the holocost never happened, or never to that extent, what is their agenda if it is a proven historical fact? Why would they make such claims? It is racial slander. It is tastless and no one should have any buisness broadcasting that false information either. I see it as taking another potential pro-Nazi off the streets. (probably a little harsh).
-Scott
 
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  • #15
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People that are racist harm society period. It is good for people tolerate other races but not the intolerant. They are ignorant, it is not that they are another race, it is just that they straight out hate other races. They have nothing useful to contribute to society and by allowing them to go unchallenged, they cause problems.
-Scott
 
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  • #16
selfAdjoint
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scott_alexsk said:
It is just the context of the entire matter. It is trival for a person to say the Earth is flat, because he is just insane or stupid, or a genius in some cases. However when a person says the holocost never happened, or never to that extent, what is their agenda if it is a proven historical fact? Why would they make such claims? It is racial slander. It is tastless and no one should have any buisness broadcasting that false information either. I see it as taking another potential pro-Nazi off the streets. (probably a little harsh).
-Scott


People have all sorts of agendas for doing things. Somebody might honestly believe he doesn't have an anti-semitic bone in his body and be a holocaust denier because he's a cranky contrarian who gets off by contradicting sacred cows. Somebody might have been exposed to some selective documentary evidence that minimizes the holocaust . All kinds of reasons; you can't just infer that because somebody denies it he's pushing anti-semitic, let alone crypto-nazi, motives.
 
  • #17
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Regardless it cannot be tolerated. He should still be set straight, which he was, but only under pressure. I think they may pursue it with such energy, because they do not want to give the anti-semetic movements that still exsist in their country any leeway, for saying "Hey this expert says.." Even if he did not mean it he gives the real racists legitimacy for their arguements such as "The Nazis were not that bad." etc.
-Scott
 
  • #18
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I don't believe there are laws against spreading false news in North America, otherwise a lot or tabloids would be out of business. Except for libel laws of course, which do forbid direct harm to someone's reputation. But I cannot think of a law that keeps me from telling everyone about the Martian I keep in my bath tub. Oops, I spoke too much.

http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/pub/1992/vol2/texte/1992scr2_0731.txt [Broken]
http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/z/zundel-ernst/supreme-court/1992-preliminary-version.html

It was law but in 1992 it seems that it was nulled by the supprem court in Canada...
 
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  • #19
vanesch
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jhe1984 said:
In Europe, if you were to get on a computer and post in forums that the Holocaust never happened - could you be arrested? What if you had a webpage?

Yes. It is explicitly forbidden to deny the holocaust. Just as it is explicitly forbidden to make racist or xenophobic comments. You can be prosecuted for that.

I have to say that personally, I'm divided on the issue: I think it is a denial of the freedom of speech which I regret ; however, given the atrocities that went with the holocaust, I can understand it up to a point. Nevertheless, this opens the gate to other limitations "for good purposes" of the freedom of speech, and that's something I am affraid of.

But it's the law.
 
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  • #20
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Anttech said:
http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/pub/1992/vol2/texte/1992scr2_0731.txt [Broken]
http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/z/zundel-ernst/supreme-court/1992-preliminary-version.html

It was law but in 1992 it seems that it was nulled by the supprem court in Canada...
I stand corrected. The Supreme Court of Canada did not nullify the law but upheld it according to your links:

Section 181 of the Code is justifiable under s. 1 of the Charter. Parliament's objective of preventing the harm caused by the wilful publication of injurious lies is sufficiently pressing and substantial to justify a limited restriction on freedom of expression.
So you can still publish lies in Canada but only if they are not injurious to others, or at least if you don't know that they can be (and you'd better be able to convince the court that you didn't know). So tabloids must be particularly outrageous in their stories to make sure they are not believable by their readers, otherwise they may be liable to their victim. But denyers of the Holocaust seem to be fair game for prosecution in Canada as well.

How about the US?
 
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  • #21
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Orefa said:
How about the US?

Define injurous. As others have said, if you publish libelous information about other people, you can be sued.

If it's something that's likely to bring about physical harm, it's most likely a criminal offense. Sort of like shouting 'fire!' in a crowded theater.


As for the original subject, I find this law Orwellian. As Manchot says, I think it's bordering on the thought police. You won't get rid of stupidity and racism by outlawing it. You might, in fact, make it stronger by making those people look like victims rather than the scumbags they are. Education is the only thing that will, ultimately, end it.
 
  • #22
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selfAdjoint said:
People have all sorts of agendas for doing things. Somebody might honestly believe he doesn't have an anti-semitic bone in his body and be a holocaust denier because he's a cranky contrarian who gets off by contradicting sacred cows. Somebody might have been exposed to some selective documentary evidence that minimizes the holocaust . All kinds of reasons; you can't just infer that because somebody denies it he's pushing anti-semitic, let alone crypto-nazi, motives.

But...in this particular case, David Irving is a "historian." An expert if you will. (at least to the point that someone thought his imput on the subject was worthy of an interview). So in this case he was flat out, lying.

He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed, until he later saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.

How many people, with the over-abundance of evidence that the holocaust did happen, need to see Adolf Eichmann's files to prove it? Especially an expert.

Anyway, this alone isn't criminal, imo. If you add, intent and motive in the mix, then I would say he should be criminally prosecuted. (but for what? I don't know)

Without seeing the actual interview, I don't know if his intent was to incite violence against jews. But you gotta know, some nut is going to use that info and (given how cruel the Nazis were) do something equally cruel. At the very least he should have had more tact. It's such a touchy subject. Even parallels the current situation with the similar statements made by the President of Iran. That guy obviosly is inciting, not just racial hatred, but racial violence.
 
  • #23
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fyi: the definitive book on the Nazi holocaust (to distinguish from other holocausts), raul hilberg's the destruction of the european jews, cites known Nazi holocaust deniers. why? because they (some of them) are actually good researchers (who come to the 'wrong' conclusion) and it helps him strengthen his argument by giving him things to explain/refute/etc.

as for Nazi holocaust denial i say let anyone say anything. of course i wouldn't agree with what they say, but who really thinks someone like ernst zundel has anything meaningful to say?
 
  • #24
Art
As with any field an expert who trundles out nonsense which flys in the face of facts soon ceases to be considered expert. If somebody wants to make a fool of themselves I think they should be free to do so.

Anything that engenders more discussion about the nazi holocaust would probably be a good thing as it keeps it alive as a subject which is healthy in terms of preventing a reoccurrance and is even good for the surviving victims as the publicity generated helps them when pursuing compensation or when trying to get back their stolen possessions from the swiss banks
 
  • #25
469
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It is racial slander. It is tastless and no one should have any buisness broadcasting that false information either. I see it as taking another potential pro-Nazi off the streets. (probably a little harsh).
But slander is a civil matter, not a criminal one.
 

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