Thursday, April 19, 2007

Locking up the Holocaust Deniers

The EU is considering making denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences. There's a debate to be had about whether this is the best way of tackling the problem of Holocaust Denial - I think it probably is, as it offers a way of putting neo-Nazis in prison, which is a useful weapon against fascists. Also, if it is better to take the Holocaust deniers by exposing their arguments (as is often argued by opponents of this law), the courtroom has been proven as one of the best forums for doing this, as with case involving David Irving (which was only made possible because Irving was fool enough to bring a prosecution - Holocaust deniers are normally more wary about engaging in debate with expert historians). Equally, using the legal system must not be a replacement for education and research about the Holocaust to make sure people know what actually happened, and locking neo-Nazis up is just a small part of making sure that their ideas don't get supported more widely.

For Iain Dale, hearing of this law brings to mind the phrase 'first they came for'. Is it just me, or is quoting Pastor Niemoeller in support of the right of people to deny that the Holocaust happened just a little bit tasteless, and missing the point?

The Nazis were able to pick off in turn each of the groups which could have stopped them - the Communists, the Social Democrats and the trade unions. Either Iain is arguing that neo-nazi Holocaust deniers are a threat to the totalitarian European Union, and that the loss of their liberty is the first step on a route which threatens us all, or he hasn't understood the point that Niemoeller was making at all. The fact that he thinks it is a slippery slope leading to the criminalisation of climate change denial (though it is far from clear why anyone might think that) suggests the latter is more likely.


At 3:35 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting Niemoller is quite appropriate, as Niemoller was regretting the fact he did f*** all about the Nazis.

Dale and co are in exactley the same position.

There is no "freedom" to advocate or excuse mass murder.

At 3:52 pm , Anonymous Tim F said...

Tories see threats to freedom everywhere except the places they actually exist.


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