Respectful Insolence

He’s baaaack. Lovely.

I’m referring to everybody’s favorite anti-Semite, Hitler apologist, and Holocaust-denying “historian,” David Irving, who has reinfected our fair nation. Indeed, and unfortunately, he is busily slithering his way across the western U.S., hitting the mighty white power ranger circuit in the back of cheap hotels and greasy spoon restaurants in order to meet with his fellow Holocaust deniers and, of course, pathetically try to hawk some of his books. Worse, he promises that in the fall he will hit the eastern U.S. In the meantime, he’s been to Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque. Tonight he’ll be in Boise, and this weekend he’ll be in Spokane, Portland, and Seattle. He’ll even be in San Francisco next week!

Oddly enough, he was in Las Vegas on Sunday night, just as TAM7 was finishing up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out where the event was going to be. David Irving traditionally has been very secretive–with very good reason, given how many protesters would love to show up at his talks and shine the cold, hard light of day on his activities, not to mention on those who actually show up at his talks. As a consequence, it’s always been a bit dicey trying to figure out at exactly what venue in each city he will be speaking during each stop on his tour without giving away the store, so to speak. What I mean is that getting information from David Irving almost always involves giving him your name, address, and phone number on a form on his website and sometimes paying the entrance fee by PayPal. I couldn’t bring myself to give him my real information; so I gave him the address and phone number of the South Point Hotel & Casino, where TAM7 was being held and where I was staying. In the end, Irving was a bit too squirrelly in a couple of brief e-mail exchanges, and I never got the information (which, of course, I would have happily spread around at TAM7, given that, alas, my flight left two hours before his talk was to begin). Perhaps I should have bit the bullet and dialed the telephone number he left as a contact to find out where he was going to be, but I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to speak to the arch Holocaust denier himself. Oh, well, I promise not to be such a chicken next time.

In any case, I found a post by Stephen Lemons in Phoenix, who showed me exactly what I missed through his coverage of Irving’s appearance in Phoenix last Friday. He even has a bit of video (direct YouTube link):

I particularly like the neo-Nazis giving the ol’ “Seig Heil!” salute:

i-d5760c99b392afd33e70edd88a018bf8-Nazis[1].JPG

After all, Holocaust deniers so often piously inform us that their Holocaust denial absolutely, positively doesn’t come from anti-Semitism or neo-Nazi beliefs. Just like these guys (note that some of the attendees were just curious and at least one was a spy for Lemons–just not these Seig Heil-ing morons). And just like David Irving:

Alas, I never got that follow-up call, despite the polite tone of the e-mail. When I approached Irving in Jerry’s back room, a small space crammed with about 30 bodies and two tables of books, DVDs and posters of Hitler that Irving was offering for sale, the septuagenarian anti-Semite was greatly annoyed by the anarchists outside, as well as by my presence.

“How did you find out where it was?” Irving wondered, his bushy eyebrows leaping about like huge, hairy caterpillars.

“The anarchists told me,” I admitted.

“Well, you’re on the wrong side then,” he harrumphed.

These days, it turns out that Irving’s schtick is to use decoded German documents to claim that “only” 1.74 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, rather than the usual estimates of 6 million, give or take a few hundred thousand, that most Holocaust historians agree upon. Or, as Lemons put it:

Seems Irving was up to his regular shtick of focusing on one tiny piece of evidence, while ignoring mountains of proof to the contrary. It’s the sort of historical sleight of hand that convinces only true believers. No wonder he doesn’t want anyone with a lick of sense eavesdropping on his pathetic farce.

Sadly, this doesn’t just work with true believers. Like the case with evolution deniers, boosters of alternative medicine, and other cranks, such cherry picking of evidence can all too often persuade people with little knowledge of a subject or whose knowledge is superficial. Irving’s been playing this same game since at least the late 1970s; the only difference is that now he doesn’t even try very hard any more to hide his admiration for Hitler and his dislike of the Jews.

In any case, if anyone has the intestinal fortitude to actually give David Irving his personal information in order to find out where he will be speaking when he comes to his city, I salute you. Anarchists shouldn’t be the only ones protesting his appearances. especially anarchists like one who goes by the name of “Ghost“:

“I think that’s fucking great, personally,” said Ghost about the deflated tire. “Honestly, I’m all about any kind of destruction of anything neo-Nazis own. I’m not gonna lie, I fucking hate ‘em. I would not shed a tear if they were all to die right now.”

“We don’t all agree with that,” said a protester named Haley.

“I’m speaking for myself,” responded Ghost.

I asked Ghost about freedom of speech, and whether he believed in denying it to neo-Nazis.

“No one should give Nazis or any racists any sort of platform,” he told me. “I believe in free speech. I know a lot of anarchists don’t take that stance, but when it comes to an organized group that is built around genocide and oppression on the kind of large scale that they’re trying to deny here tonight, when it’s something that’s built around those kinds of practices, not just words, that’s when I think they should be shut down at the root.”

In other words, Ghost is all for free speech, just not for people whom he hates or considers to be hateful or racist. This is about as hypocritical a stance as there can be, especially for someone like Ghost, who openly advocates violence and destruction against neo-Nazis. This is not the sort of message that we should be using to counter people like David Irving. Peaceful protest and education, for instance with this pamphlet from The Holocaust History Project, are. The answer to lies like Holocaust denial is not violence, but refutation.

Comments

  1. #1 JD
    July 15, 2009

    Neo-tards. They just want free Jerry’s gift cards so they can enjoy the Aryan Nations buffet special. White grits and a bucket of tard soup.

  2. #2 nostrum
    July 15, 2009

    Nice try, JD, but lopping off the “re” doesn’t your word choice witty or charming.

  3. #3 Mike Stanton
    July 15, 2009

    Neo-tards. Hmm… I take nostrum’s point, especially as the cognitively impaired were among the first victims of the nazi final solution.

    still it has a sort of resonance. When the National Front was active in the Uk in the 70s one of our slogans on anti nazi demonstrations was:
    “If you’ve half a mind to join the Front,
    don’t worry. That’s all you need.”

  4. #4 Kismet
    July 15, 2009

    Thank you for standing up for free speech and exposing our hypocritical and useless Austrian laws for what they are (re. your older Irving blog posts).

    Peaceful protest it is. Their movement is ridiculous on its own and its claims are without merit. It can’t be that hard to dismantle them and keep those people at bay, peacefully.

  5. #5 JDK
    July 15, 2009

    That’s the problem with free speech: to be truly free, it has to be available to everyone and without any double standards.

    While it would be nice to say, “Free speech for all – Except The Following…”, a just and balanced society just can’t work like that.

    And yes, I realise we hardly live in a just and balanced society but one can dream :P.

  6. #6 Andy
    July 15, 2009

    //While it would be nice to say, “Free speech for all – Except The Following…”, a just and balanced society just can’t work like that.//

    How would it ever be “nice” to even entertain the idea of censoring people with whom we disagree?

  7. #7 Dr. P
    July 15, 2009

    free speech doesn’t imply what’s said will be worth hearing…as an Arizonan just be thankful you don’t have to live near these idiots.

  8. #8 Travis
    July 15, 2009

    I am really not too impressed with Ghost, and similar types of people. I have known a good number of people like this, who say they want free speech but really mean free speech they agree with. Sadly this type of thing seems to really feed well into the persecution complex so many Holocaust deniers have.

  9. #9 peter
    July 15, 2009

    I am curious – doesn’t the right of free speech not come with the understanding to use that speech responsibly?

    I have never known a Nazi, either old or new, to actually embrace that idea.
    I do not think that advocating genocide by falsifying history
    falls into the category free speech – since when is advocating murder part of free speech? Does free speech stop when words are being put into action, and the advocacy becomes deed?
    If that is the case – Nazism has proven that it is unfit for free speech, they have proven it million times over.
    How much more of that particular insanity doe we have to allow to advocate their hatred, after having shown what they are capable of?

    I find it curious that those who did not have to live with the consequences of the actions of a murderouis regime are all so concerned of allowing a bunch of white terrorists – or the advocates thereof – to freely spout their hate, and are all in a tizzy when Germany and Austria fights them with whatever means possible.

    I wonder – would you still advocate the rights of – lets say African americans – to free speech if they had come to power and executed several million all american white boys?
    killed the same amount of white anglo saxon Americans

  10. #10 Skemono
    July 16, 2009

    since when is advocating murder part of free speech?

    I’m pretty sure it’s not. However, saying “Hitler wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust, which by the way didn’t happen anyways”, is a far cry from saying “Go kill some kikes.”

    I wonder – would you still advocate the rights of – lets say African americans – to free speech if they had come to power and executed several million all american white boys?

    Yes. Boy, that was simple.

    Or are you saying that Germans shouldn’t be allowed to have free speech, because Germany was responsible for the Holocaust? Like, ever? By that logic, what group of people is allowed to speak?

  11. #11 Donna B.
    July 16, 2009

    Free speech means I have the right to insult you, but I do not have the right to encourage bodily harm to you. I think “Ghost” comes close to speech not covered by our 1st Amendment.

    What Orac did not point out is that there are so very very few people who hold these views. They are very few in number.

  12. #12 IBY
    July 16, 2009

    I am confused by the “only” that David Irving is talking about. Yeah, “only” 1.7 million Jews. Just because he killed 4 million less Jews doesn’t make Hitler’s crime any less terrible. (of course, he actually killed 6 million) Even the number of 1 million is more than a good enough number to be considered genocide, which means that even if “only” 1 million was killed, the Holocaust still happened.

  13. #13 peter
    July 16, 2009

    “Boy, that was simple.”

    As simple as signing on to a declaration on torture and then, when the cookie – or the towers – crumple, to find it the right thing to do?

    As simple as profiling any non white/non christian american after 9/11?

    “Or are you saying that Germans shouldn’t be allowed to have free speech, because Germany was responsible for the Holocaust?”

    Germans have the right to free speech, but not the right to support any Nazi statements or denial of the holocaust.
    Neither do Austrians.

    “However, saying “Hitler wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust, which by the way didn’t happen anyways”, is a far cry from saying “Go kill some kikes.” ”

    No, the same guys who deny the holocaust in front of any decent person internally are advocating exactly that.
    Your grasp of the Neonazi scene – in NA and Europe – is rather tenuous, and liberalism and democracy was once before put in the trashcan by allowing those groups to prosper.

    The naivete towards those groups is only equaled by the naivete supporting the Taliban and Al Queda unconditionally through the fight against the USSR in Afghanistan, and the reliance on the ISS for correct information.

  14. #14 peter
    July 16, 2009

    I really wonder if the leniency towards neonazism has something to do with the fact that parts of the US economic elite – Henry Ford first among them as the most vocal anti semite – supported Hitler and the NSDAP financially?

  15. #15 Rogue Medic
    July 16, 2009

    peter,

    Free speech means supporting speech that we find offensive.

    If we can’t tolerate the speech of those we do not like, how will we ever tolerate their existence.

    The holocaust was a violent act. Denying the holocaust is not a violent act, it is just stupid and hateful. As long as their speech is limited to that, it is protected speech.

    Once we start censoring speech, where do we stop?

    Besides, censorship does not work. It only drives the communication underground. The way to confront this kind of hatred is with truth. Some will ignore the truth, but intelligent people with unfettered access to information should make sure that accurate and complete information is available.

    Book burning and censorship are the tools of the tyrant, not the free nation.

  16. #16 OurSally
    July 16, 2009

    I have to laugh when I see a bunch of these “white superiority” dingbats. Just look at them: ignorant, inbred, violent, unhealthy, scruffy, ugly… How can any of them claim superiority over anything?

  17. #17 Orac
    July 16, 2009

    I really wonder if the leniency towards neonazism has something to do with the fact that parts of the US economic elite – Henry Ford first among them as the most vocal anti semite – supported Hitler and the NSDAP financially?

    Ah, yes. I wondered when you would start accusing Americans of having Nazi sympathies and label that the reason why we support freer speech than you do. Here’s a hint: you’re full of shit on this last point.

    Rogue Medic said it best in this thread. Free speech means free speech, with only the most minimal restrictions (which the U.S. does have, by the way; read Brandenberg v. Ohio for a Supreme Court ruling as to when censorship for violent speech is considered acceptable). Under the cloak of wanting to stifle “hate speech,” you give me the uncomfortable impression that you really don’t mind stifling speech that you don’t approve of. (Hey, you called the “U.S. power elite” in essence Nazis; so don’t start whining when I tell you I doubt your commitment to free speech.)

    The suppression of Nazi-ism was understandable in the immediate postwar period, given that there were still large elements of the Nazi party still in existence in Germany and Austria. However, the war has been over for 64 years; nearly three generations have come since then. How long do Germany and Austria require these archaic laws?

    Finally, Rogue Medic’s right. Censorship is exactly what these morons want. When they are censored, they can wrap themselves in the mantle of the free speech martyr and even convince a few people that that’s what they are.

  18. #18 Magnus
    July 16, 2009

    Has anyone heard about The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party? That name always cracks me up.

  19. #19 Ranson
    July 16, 2009

    My position can be summed up by an avatar that I used to use on another forum. It was a protester holding up a sign that said “Free speech for all — Even Douche Bags”.

  20. #20 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 16, 2009

    “No, the same guys who deny the holocaust in front of any decent person internally are advocating exactly that.”

    Do you draw any conclusions from the fact that your statement is absolutely unfalsifiable? You don’t have a way of looking at someone’s insides and determining what they are “advocating” “internally”, so no matter how many people there might be out there who prove your claim to be completely wrong, you would be absolutely unaware of their existence. Even as you claimed to have absolute knowledge.

  21. #21 DLC
    July 16, 2009

    A bunch of dweebs. Sorry, but if those are Arizona’s “Neo-Nazis” I’m gonna go back to sleep.

    As repugnant as I find Iriving’s spew, He’s covered under the fist amendment. I will note, however, that the right to free speech does not come with additional right to an audience or to approbation. If you’re a jerk and talk trash, you deserve to be called on it.

  22. #22 Soren
    July 16, 2009

    Playing the devils advocate. What Ghost said, might be interpreted in a more benign manner:
    “I would not shed a tear if they were all to die right now.”

    Well few people would shed a tear – it is not advocating killing them. Of course in the previous sentence he approved of vandalism against the, so he is guilty of advocating that.

    “No one should give Nazis or any racists any sort of platform,” he told me. “I believe in free speech. I know a lot of anarchists don’t take that stance, but when it comes to an organized group that is built around genocide and oppression on the kind of large scale that they’re trying to deny here tonight, when it’s something that’s built around those kinds of practices, not just words, that’s when I think they should be shut down at the root.”

    what does he mean by “shut down at the root”. Well he states that no one should give them a platform. If that is what he means by shutting down at the root, then I see no problem.

    Free speech only guarantees that you can say what you want to say, not that anyone is bound to give you a platform to speak from.

  23. #23 Adrienne
    July 16, 2009

    OurSally @16:
    Just look at them: ignorant, inbred, violent, unhealthy, scruffy, ugly… How can any of them claim superiority over anything?

    You can glean all that just from a dark, blurry photograph?

    Seriously, I don’t think it’s a good idea to “dehumanize” your enemies by stereotyping them as somehow inferior to you, even in the case of NeoNazis. This sort of “othering” and dehumanization is common–look at all of the freeper types who claim all liberals are mentally ill and incapable of thinking logically–but that doesn’t make it right.

    I agree 100% with what Orac and others here have said about free speech and the need to protect it.

  24. #24 Adrienne
    July 16, 2009

    Soren @22:
    what does he mean by “shut down at the root”. Well he states that no one should give them a platform. If that is what he means by shutting down at the root, then I see no problem.

    Ghost’s use of the words “shut down” implies that he wants to prevent them from speaking. At least that’s how I understand the use of “shut down”. And that would be interfering with the Nazi’s right to free speech.

    Free speech only guarantees that you can say what you want to say, not that anyone is bound to give you a platform to speak from.

    But here, the Nazi types are making their own platform for Irving, are they not? It’s not as though they’re being hosted by some organization that would potentially withdraw the invitation due to bad press or consumer outrage.

  25. #25 Adrienne
    July 16, 2009

    Has anyone heard about The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party? That name always cracks me up.

    So they hate environmental polluters instead of Jews? But they also oppose environmental regulation? Sounds like a bunch of angry and confused people to me.

  26. #26 DLC
    July 16, 2009

    Has anyone heard about The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party? That name always cracks me up.

    Are they anything like the Judean People’s Front ? or perhaps the Popular Front for the liberation of Judea ?
    Bloody Splitters, all of them!

  27. #27 Orac
    July 16, 2009

    Ghost’s use of the words “shut down” implies that he wants to prevent them from speaking. At least that’s how I understand the use of “shut down”. And that would be interfering with the Nazi’s right to free speech.

    That’s how I interpreted his remarks, too. Ditto Peter.

    I have no problem with putting pressure on or criticizing people or businesses who give a platform to these racist morons to spew their hate. I have no problem with peaceful counterdemonstrations. What I do have a problem with is preemptively using the force of law (or advocating the preemptive use of the force of law) to shut neo-Nazis (or, for that matter, anyone else) up.

  28. #28 James Sweet
    July 16, 2009

    These days, it turns out that Irving’s schtick is to use decoded German documents to claim that “only” 1.74 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during World War II

    My usual inclination when I hear about this kind of nonsense is to just concede the point. Okay, fine, you win, it was only 2 million Jews instead of 6 million. That’s still genocide, douchebag.

    Oh geez, and here come the anti-free speech dickwads:

    I am curious – doesn’t the right of free speech not come with the understanding to use that speech responsibly?

    This exact same logic has been used to justify the suppression of pornography, busting up of labor unions, anti-blasphemy laws, and all sorts of bullshit.

    I agree there is a social responsibility not to abuse free speech. But nobody gets to dictate what constitutes abuse of free speech and enforce it. Yeah, these neo-Nazi dicks are failing society in choosing to use their free speech for such a disgusting purpose. But the government doesn’t get to decide that, any more than I want the government passing judgment on how I choose to use my free speech.

  29. #29 peter
    July 16, 2009

    “The suppression of Nazi-ism was understandable in the immediate postwar period, given that there were still large elements of the Nazi party still in existence in Germany and Austria. However, the war has been over for 64 years; nearly three generations have come since then. How long do Germany and Austria require these archaic laws?”

    One article headline in Canada’s Mc Lean’s from June 22 magazine reads: The return of Fascism.

    Directly after the war, fascism was very much discredited, and there was actually less interest. Several decades on, the “successes” of Hitler’s regime come to be glorified, influx of muslim immigrants lead to a renewed appreciation of the fascist methods of how to deal with “undesirables”.
    The claim that fascism today is less of threat is complete nonsense.
    At present substantial parts of German, French and even English population are not averse to the idea of a fascist strongmen to solve the economic, and social problems facing Europe.
    Do not fool yourself into complacency.

    “What I do have a problem with is preemptively using the force of law (or advocating the preemptive use of the force of law) to shut neo-Nazis (or, for that matter, anyone else) up.”

    I wish exactly that would have been possible in the Weimar Repuplic, when with the help of Hindenburg a 32% minority government grabbed totalitarian power and caused the death of tens of millions in europe.
    And no – I did not accuse all Americans having sympathie for the Nazis, I clearly stated that parts of the financial elite – Morgan, Ford among them, supported the NSDAP financially – look under wannsee konferenz among other documents.
    It was just to prick a bit the american self image that I convoluted this reality with an unfettered support even for criminal gangs – and that is all the Nazis ever were – to speak whatever hate they want to speak.

  30. #30 Travis
    July 16, 2009

    Adrienne, I agree with the dehumanization of such people. I often see this and really dislike it. Of course we often see this in regard to Nazi’s, I think in some way it makes many people feel better, we can pretend they are really different. But looking at the people who do bad things as actually being people is scarier and I think the best way to approach them.

  31. #31 James Sweet
    July 16, 2009

    But looking at the people who do bad things as actually being people is scarier and I think the best way to approach them.

    Man, I wish I could remember where to find this article… a few years back, I read a piece where a journalist had basically gone undercover to meet up with some people to look into joining a white supremacist group. He ended up meeting with this totally normal-looking family of four at a freaking Applebee’s. It was this totally surreal thing where these were, 90% of the time, just totally ordinary middle class Americans, totally whitebread, nothing out of the ordinary… and then all of a sudden they’d be talking white supremacist propaganda. Eery.

  32. #32 James Sweet
    July 16, 2009

    Drat, I found where I got the link, and the URL is dead.

    It was from SFWeekly in February 23, 2005, the author was Harmon Leon, and the title was “My Dinner at Applebee’s With White Supremacists!”

  33. #33 Calli Arcale
    July 16, 2009
    I am curious – doesn’t the right of free speech not come with the understanding to use that speech responsibly?

    This exact same logic has been used to justify the suppression of pornography, busting up of labor unions, anti-blasphemy laws, and all sorts of bullshit.

    Well, there are restrictions on free speech which need to exist. The archetypal example is shouting fire in a crowded theater. Consider also the recent spate of prank calls to hotels, where people who think they are very funny have been calling people in hotels and, for instance, persuading them that they need to pull the fire alarm, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in water damage when the sprinklers then go off (to say nothing of lost business due to irate guests in other rooms). One family almost risked life and limb jumping out a window because a crank caller claimed there was a gas leak, but fortunately a hotel employee discovered the situation and stopped them in time. And then there are situations where the allowed speech is proscribed for safety reasons. For instance, filing a false flight plan with ATC would not be considered protected speech, and may in fact bring criminal charges. Similarly, there are circumstances where lying is not permitted, and of course there are intellectual property and industrial espionage laws that may also apply.

    But beyond that, free speech should not be restricted. And if it’s an edge case, I’m generally inclined to lean towards not controlling the speech. Free speech is a double-edged sword; if we want free speech, we have to accept that it cuts both ways.

  34. #34 James Sweet
    July 16, 2009

    Found a mirror: http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=34950

    It gets interesting starting with “They put the ‘ha’ in ‘hate'”.

    @Calli: Yes, sure, but that’s where you get into the whole “clear and present danger” doctrine. Note that it is not just “clear danger”, but also a “present danger”. So even if there is a clear danger of neo-Nazi propaganda inciting violence in the future, it is not a present danger. Now, if on the other hand, a neo-Nazi was egging someone on to commit a particular violent act at that exact moment, that would not be protected speech.

    That’s my interpretation; I know there are very different interpretations.

  35. #35 Travis
    July 16, 2009

    Thanks James, I will give that article a read. My head might pop though, I might think we should look at them as being people, I still cannot stand reading their drivel.

  36. #36 kevinj
    July 16, 2009

    feel free to keep him.

    @ Peter: the laws dont really do very much to stop them in Europe and the attempts to shut down their speeches can be counter productive by it allows them to play the martyr card. by letting them speak sooner or later they tend to show their lovable side, eg Nick Griffin comments on sinking refugee ships. Removes the honest we aint Nazi’s any longer argument

    Yeah of course some yanks liked the Nazis, same with plenty of the “elite” of other countries. in any country you will find people who that sort of ideology appeals to.

    once you start shutting down peoples right to speak they will either hide it slightly (witness some of the ever evolving banned groups)and more dangerously where do you stop with it? I suspect if you asked enough people everyone would be banned from speaking.

  37. #37 mk
    July 16, 2009

    slightly off topic… what ever became of Hitchens’ flirtation with David Irving?

  38. #38 mk
    July 16, 2009

    Sorry… just did a search and found a post and comments about Hitchens and Irving. No need to respond. (Should have searched first… my bad!)

  39. #39 Sivi Volk
    July 16, 2009

    As an anarchist, it always makes me cringe to see people with similar political views trying to restrict the free speech of despised groups. I always wonder if they’ve never read history, or have never heard of the Alien and Sedition Acts. They never seem to realize that once such restrictions were swiftly be placed upon Nazis, there’s a good chance they would be directed next at themselves.

  40. #40 mk
    July 16, 2009

    There is a kind of weird irony to the idea of anarchists restricting speech.

  41. #41 Orac
    July 16, 2009

    “What I do have a problem with is preemptively using the force of law (or advocating the preemptive use of the force of law) to shut neo-Nazis (or, for that matter, anyone else) up.”

    I wish exactly that would have been possible in the Weimar Repuplic, when with the help of Hindenburg a 32% minority government grabbed totalitarian power and caused the death of tens of millions in europe.

    It was far more than speech that allowed the Nazis to assume power. There was also a campaign of intimidation, violence, murder, and blackmail that was the sine qua non of the Nazi Party in the days before it came to power, all of which could have been prosecuted by the Weimar Republic without clamping down on free speech if it had had the political will to do so. Read Ron Rosenbaum’s Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil and Richard J. Evans The Coming of the Third Reich for a description of how the Nazis came to power. Particularly compelling is Rosenbaum’s description of the Munich Post (or, as Hitler dubbed it, “The Poison Kitchen”), where a group of intrepid journalists documented the crimes of Hitler and the Nazi party for at least 12 years before Hitler came to power.

  42. #42 Joe
    July 16, 2009

    If I may add- as I understand it, “We will not give you a platform here” is not censorship. One is free to speak, we just won’t host it in our venue.

    However, giving a hateful person the opportunity to speak can be devastating to him. As I understand it, Joe McCarthy’s hearings (ca. 1951) on unAmerican activity went smoothly till he went on live, national TV and showed the country how despicable he was. His career was destroyed.

  43. #43 Dr. P
    July 16, 2009

    @ 29:You don’t seem to understand that there are several agencies that follow these groups both inside and outside the auspices of the government;they’re not ignored, but unless they’ve planned or are actively promoting a plan that is deemed illegal the idea that they are not allowed to express their opinion is wrong , I’m sorry.And your need to “prick” anything is an arrogant conceit;They are not YET established as a criminal gang.

  44. #44 Adrienne
    July 16, 2009

    James Sweet:

    Read that article you linked to. Wow.

    What strikes me about the “white nationalists” and so on, having read that article and read Stormfront on and off for a while, is how little that movement focuses on celebrating white European culture. It’s so little about being pro-white and so much about just reviling everyone who isn’t white. So much of the posts on Stormfront are about how awful and deviant and evil other ethnic groups are. Especially Jews.

    It’s also clear that the Stormfront types also look down on Mediterranean whites and Eastern European whites. Northern Europeans are really what they think of as “true white”.

    Other “ethnic pride” groups I’ve had contact with such as the black students’ group and the Hispanic students’ group in college focused on celebrating their own group’s cohesion, history, culture, and common experiences.

    Granted, some of the black groups like the Nation of Islam are anti-Semitic, and there are a couple of Hispanic websites that are also ridiculously anti-Semitic and anti-white. While there are anti-white and anti-other group elements in both the pro-black and pro-Hispanic groups, it appears to be far less prevalent than in the “pro-white” groups.

  45. #45 peter
    July 16, 2009

    “It was far more than speech that allowed the Nazis to assume power.”

    As a german I am quite familiar with the goonish behaviour of almost all parties during the Weimar Republic.

    The Government at the time, changing quite ofeten, was quite often not able to enforce its laws, and there is also some evidence that the police and the judicial system sympathized with the NSDAP quite early on, preventing effectual law enforcement. See Hitler’s “incarceration”.

    The denialists are from my experience – we had a few like Zundel here in Canada – simply the less threatening face of an out and out determined violent group. They are the apologists of Nazism, very well knowing what happened in the concentration camps.
    They spread their lies to paint a more “kindly” face of Nazism, which below is clearly bent on violence, as having shown by their action in Germany over the last decade or so, by attacking and killing immigrants of visible minorities.

    Preventing them a platform for advocating murder, genocide and out and out racism is part of a strategy to dry out this swamp in Germany and Austria.

    You might not agree with this policy, but the resurgence of a criminal ideology and it gaining a foothold again in Europe – and probably this time including Russia – is a main concern and calls for all legal measures, including a ban on publication of those ideas.
    I think Europe was punished enough by the consequences of the spread of fascism in Spain, Italy and Germany, with substantial support in Kroatia, England France, Hungary etc, not to have to endure that nightmare again.
    And before complaining about taking rights of goons away – what about the still quite intrusive home land security laws, both in Canada and the US?
    Where is the massive outcry here? Not only is it possible to vanish, one cannot even know the accusations placed against one.

  46. #46 Orac
    July 16, 2009

    Preventing them a platform for advocating murder, genocide and out and out racism is part of a strategy to dry out this swamp in Germany and Austria.

    And what makes you think that will “dry out the swamp”? If you think suppressing free speech ever “drains the swamp” of anything, you are more naive than you think me to be.

    You might not agree with this policy, but the resurgence of a criminal ideology and it gaining a foothold again in Europe – and probably this time including Russia – is a main concern and calls for all legal measures, including a ban on publication of those ideas.

    I cannot disagree with you more strongly about banning the publication of ideas. Your way is the way towards totalitarianism. Once the state finds certain ideas too dangerous to be published, there is nothing that stops it from finding any ideas it views as a threat too dangerous to publish. Indeed, we see this in Europe and in the UN already with the advocacy of laws banning blasphemy or the “denigration” of religion. I oppose such laws just as strongly as I oppose laws against Holocaust denial–even more strongly because such laws could have a wider impact than laws against Holocaust denial.

    And before complaining about taking rights of goons away – what about the still quite intrusive home land security laws, both in Canada and the US?

    Where is the massive outcry here? Not only is it possible to vanish, one cannot even know the accusations placed against one.

    Ah, yes, the red herring. Obviously, because I didn’t mention in this post post-9/11 abuses of power by the Bush Administration, I obvious must not care about them. Nice diversion. (And, make no mistake, that’s all it is: a diversion.) It’s the classic “Why don’t you rant about what I think you should rant about?” ploy that I’ve seen so many times before, with the implication that I’m being somehow inconsistent or hypocritical. I say to you what I say to everyone who’s tried that ploy on me: Bullshit.

    How do you know I have not spoken out against the erosions of our freedom post-9/11. (I have, by the way.) Here’s the difference: I don’t just speak out against that.

  47. #47 DLC
    July 17, 2009

    There’s been a couple of really good movies of the “docudrama” sort on the rise of the nazi party and the conditions in Germany during that rise to power.
    I’m no fan of nazis or their ‘fellow-travellers’ in the white power rangers movement. (as Orac labels them)
    (I can’t help it…. Go Go Power Rangers! )
    But, banning them from having their little meetings or from printing their little hate-screeds only gains them allies.
    It’s much better to publish your own counter-propaganda, so long as you stick with the truth.
    As for the first amendment:
    I am reminded of Mr Justice Potter Stewart “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is the landmark of an authoritarian regime..”

  48. #48 Joseph C.
    July 17, 2009

    Once the state finds certain ideas too dangerous to be published, there is nothing that stops it from finding any ideas it views as a threat too dangerous to publish. Indeed, we see this in Europe and in the UN already with the advocacy of laws banning blasphemy or the “denigration” of religion.

    You’re damn right. In a move straight out of Orwell, the Ukraine just banned the Bruno movie to protect the morals of its apparently fragile citizenry:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12844644?nclick_check=1

    As offensive as some might find Mr. Cohen’s humor, government censorship is always more repugnant. It is especially obnoxious when the censorship is carried out by a government agency with a name as Orwellian as the “Culture Ministry”.

  49. #49 peter
    July 17, 2009

    “Ah, yes, the red herring. Obviously, because I didn’t mention in this post post-9/11 abuses of power by the Bush Administration, I obvious must not care about them.”

    Not a diversion, a comparison.

    You keep defending the right of an ideology that has proven to be violent to an unimaginable level (can you really imagine the horror of the concentration camps, or the horror of the German army marching into Poland and Russia, and there especially the Waffen SS)if you think that this will prevent them from gaining a foothold – history has shown differently, and the history in Europe presently shows differently.
    I still think that not only free speech to those goons should be denied – no, not only that, anybody clearly stating that he supports an ideology of utter hatred, support of genocide and the elimination of those opposing their rule by the death penalty has forfeited the right to live in a democratic country.
    How anybody can compare THAT ideology and its proven deadliness – talk about falsifyability – with labour advocacy or any other left or right leaning parties has to have his head examined – preferably not by Dr. Orac.

    “But, banning them from having their little meetings or from printing their little hate-screeds only gains them allies.”

    Their meetings are unfortunately not that little any more.

  50. #50 Michael Simpson
    July 17, 2009

    Peter, sadly, I can imagine the horror of concentrations, my being Jewish and of the appropriate age to hear first hand from survivors. Of course, most of my family aren’t survivors, they died.

    Still, and as offensive as David Irving is, I am glad I live in a country that allows him to show his evilness in full-living color. I don’t want a court, government, or fellow citizens determining what is or is not offensive. Because as bad as David Irving is, someone in government might think that Orac is wrong and arrest him and all of us supporters. I tolerate his right to free speech, just to make sure I have the same.

    So now let me go wash my hands, because this was nasty.

  51. #51 Al West
    July 17, 2009

    It’s quite simple, really. Neo-nazis and white supremacists are some of the stupidest people on planet earth. They have no scientific legs to stand on, and their arguments are inevitably the most ridiculous fear-mongering. If they are allowed to speak, then they’ll say something stupid that no one will agree with.

    Europe in the 1930s was racist. People were ignorant, going to university was not at all common, and there was resentment about the enormous land war that had ripped through the continent only a few years prior. Europe today is not like that. University attendance is on the rise, and is high. Most people consider racism unacceptable and scientifically ridiculous. White nationalist parties like the BNP are ridiculed.

    Hitler needed around a third of the vote to be taken seriously. But the BNP – considered a threat here in the UK and heavily monitored – in 2005 got 0.7% of the popular vote. It is fucking absurd to consider parties like that to be a threat to anything. And take the Applebee’s article; the group themselves say that they’re one of the largest groups in the USA, and they probably have a couple of thousand members!!!11!

    I say, fuck it, let them speak.

  52. #52 peter
    July 17, 2009

    I respect Orac for it’s rational and reasonable approach when it comes to science, I sadly see a lack of rationality when it comes to politics and the purity of political ideas like free speech.

    Let us define Nazism as a mental disease, that twist the mind of the infected to imbue his group with certain qualities that set him above all other groups not imbued with those qualities – as per definition of the ideology – and demands either the destruction of members of all other groups or their enslavement.
    The rational and reasonable approach would be to stop the propagating of such ideas and the actual practicing of those ideas by all means legally possible by the body politics such infected. Legally means creating such laws necessary to fight those ideas, as laws are never natural but are created for a purpose.

    I also see no rationality or reasonableness allowing to propagate and prosper such an ideology AGAIN after it has clearly shown its virulence in a previous attack.

    I also see no rationality or reasonableness to permit the propagation of ideas when a clear and direct link between idea and the acting on those ideas has been shown in past and present. If this is testable and proven, as Nazism has shown, then is irrational to allow such ideas to spread. The carrier and propagator are as guilty as the perpetrator, the only decision to which degree.

    Other then in religions where there is a spectrum where only a fringe acts on very narrow interpretations that harm others, the ideology of Nazism is based on harming those not part of the “VOLK”. No ifs, whens or buts. The denialists are not part of the spectrum, the spectrum is a peak of advocated violence, they just are useful to hide the intentions behind the denial.

    Therefor it is rational and reasonable to stop by all legal means possible the propagators and the perpetrators before they destroy the body politics permitting them to multiply in its midst.

  53. #53 Orac
    July 17, 2009

    I still think that not only free speech to those goons should be denied – no, not only that, anybody clearly stating that he supports an ideology of utter hatred, support of genocide and the elimination of those opposing their rule by the death penalty has forfeited the right to live in a democratic country.

    Define how you would distinguish an ideology of “utter hatred” in an specific, usable, operational manner that would allow you to reliably distinguish those whose free speech rights you believe should be trampled in order to “protect” society (i.e., those holding said ideology) and whose free speech rights are hunky dory with you or at least tolerable. (Come to think of it, who are you to judge what is and is not tolerable when it comes to speech?) For instance, the white power ranger movement does not actually support genocide, by and large, except by inference through its parentage by movements that did. Oh, sure, there are fringe characters who will openly call for genocide or privately admit that they think that killing off this group or that wouldn’t be a bad idea, but they are in the minority. Without ascribing mind-reading powers to the government to be able to tell who’s lying when they say they are not advocating genocide, by your very own definition neo-Nazis should not have their free speech abrogated.

    Sadly, from my perspective your words give me the impression that you appear to have a lot in common with your fascist enemies in at least one characteristic. You are highly intolerant of viewpoints you detest and all too willing to declare persons espousing them unfit to live in your country.

    Let us define Nazism as a mental disease

    No, let us not.

    that twists the mind of the infected to imbue his group with certain qualities that set him above all other groups not imbued with those qualities – as per definition of the ideology – and demands either the destruction of members of all other groups or their enslavement.

    Ah, yes. The defining of one’s political opponents as being mentally ill based on their holding political viewpoints you find offensive. The old Soviet Union was particularly good at using that tactic. Perhaps you’d like to open some Gulags for neo-Nazis? You’re advocating destroying democracy in order to save it, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    I’m with Michael Simpson. Free speech is not selective, and it’s meaningless unless offensive speech is also protected–even highly offensive speech. That includes David Irving and his pathetic neo-Nazi admirers. Restrictions must be as minimal as possible; I remain eternally grateful for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers for realizing this.

  54. #54 DLC
    July 17, 2009

    Membership in a hate group is not a mental illness. Perhaps it is a symptom of poor self-image, but it is not a mental illness. I quoted a supreme court justice before, and I think I’ll quote another one now: ” If there is a bedrock principle of the First Amendment,it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
    Justice William J. Brennan
    Source: Texas vs. Johnson, 1989 ”

    People, you may find what these white power rangers have to say despicable, and I agree with you, it is. But when you shut up those you don’t approve of, you open the door to be silenced yourself.

  55. #55 Kismet
    July 17, 2009

    Peter, I live in Austria and I must admit that I strongly disagree with every single word of your post. It’s naive to think that those laws have helped much in the recent past. If anything what the laws do perfectly well, is pushing the neonazis from the public (where they can be ridiculed, controlled and there is oversight) to the underground.

    Serioulsy Peter, those laws won’t prevent them from gaining a foothold more than the national and international laws already in place. Most of the crimes of the Nazi’s were completely illegal in their time. You can implement as many Orwellian and redundant laws as you want, still it won’t help more than the laws that are already in place.
    It’s also extremely scathing of other victims to focus solely on nationalsocialism. Why are there no anti red khmer laws? (it’s not like there are that many victims of the NS regime left in Austria anyway. All genocide should be treated equally, shouldn’t it?)

    But ORAC is right. We CANNOT fight fascism using fascist methods! I must admit I’m embarassed by many of our own people (incl. Peter) demanding even more oppression and more severe laws…

    Furthermore, there is the problem of “Verhältnismäßigkeit” (proportionality). The laws lack any sort of or proportionality. The sentences could be higher than for rape, battery and in fact it could be even as high as for murder. Even though, most sentences are not as severe as they could be, they still lack any sort of proportionality.

  56. #56 peter
    July 17, 2009

    “Let us define Nazism as a mental disease”

    I had thought that it might become clear by using the word “let us …” I was engaging in a thought experiment.

    It is an insult to rationality and democracy to equate laws drawn up to stop a particular vicious ideology by duly elected governments with the methods of their enemy.
    Who does that, has a very tenuous grasp of how either system works.

    “Define how you would distinguish an ideology of “utter hatred” in an specific, usable, operational manner”

    I suggest you read part one and two of Mein Kampf and also have a look at some German websites advocating the return of Fascism of the German variety. I also had defined some of that in a specific manner in a later post.
    I strongly suggest to view the movie “der Untergang”.
    The purity of the “voelkisch State” demands the elimination of any racially “impure” groups, be it gypsises, Jews or whatever group might be defined as having no value to the “Volk”.

    The weak – mentally and physically – within the Volk has to be eliminated, and the term “ausmerzen” used in Nazi parlance means exterminaton. No sympathy or help for those are permitted.
    The demand for “lebensraum” for space and raw materials also makes it imperative for the Nazi State to engage in war to procure those tangibles, trade is not an option especially when the to be conquered are deemed racially inferior, and any method to secure the new territories is permitted in the suppression of insurgency. That strategy was clearly shown in Poalnd, Yugoslawia, and even Italy.

    This rather clinical language is transferred into hate speech by labeling and framing the racial enemy in a way to portray him as subhuman and worthy only to be eliminated.

    The argument to “destroy” democracy in order to protect it by preventing a virulent and violent ideology to spread does simply not make sense if one sees Nazism as not a political movement but a criminal movement that advocates genocide, racial hatred and the use of violence against those criticizing it.
    It is nothing but a criminal gang, looking again to gain a foothold, and I find it laughable to concede to Nazis with a proven track record of how to implement their ideology, any status as a political movement.
    If the indictment of Nazism as a criminal ideology a gang of thugs ever has been proven, it was in the court in Nuremberg by an American judge.

  57. #57 James Sweet
    July 17, 2009

    Look, we don’t even have to have an ideological argument here. We can just take a pragmatic look at history. Time and time again, attempts to suppress ideology — whether it be a positive or innocuous ideology, or if it be a hateful ideology like white supremacy — fail to do any good whatsoever. Name one time in history where a dangerous ideology was starting to take hold and a government succeeded in permanently squelching it. It just doesn’t work that way.

  58. #58 James Sweet
    July 17, 2009

    Rather, the results of attempting to censor speech usually results in inane bullshit like this.

  59. #59 Kismet
    July 17, 2009

    Provide proof why and how this ideology is more “virulent and violent” than others and why we need those redundant (and Orwellian) laws to suppress — while all our other rights are protected by more general laws.
    How you can distinguish mere admiration of some harmless aspects of the Third Reich from admiration of their whole regime?
    Why is this ideology so special? Why don’t you treat all other deadly ideologies the same?
    Tell us why the laws do not need to adhere to the principle of proportionality?
    …and don’t forgot to address my other points.

    “It is an insult to rationality and democracy to equate laws drawn up to stop a particular vicious ideology by duly elected governments with the methods of their enemy.”
    No, Peter, it isn’t. The laws you are so vigorously supporting are an insult to our freedoms and very, very comparable if not exactly the same means *they* used.

  60. #60 tim gueguen
    July 17, 2009

    Peter quoting the Macleans article in amusing given that it was written by Mark Steyn, who like the rest of the “Eurabia’ crowd often speaks of Muslims in ways that a facist would agree with. And Macleans columnist Paul Wells subsequently wrote a piece suggesting Steyn’s claims of rising facism were a bunch of hooey.
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/06/19/the-feeble-%E2%80%98march%E2%80%99-of-euro-fascism/

  61. #61 peter
    July 18, 2009

    “Why is this ideology so special? Why don’t you treat all other deadly ideologies the same?”

    Jesus fucking christ, if in the face of history someone has to ask THIS question, I have to assume he is either a complete idiot or has lived in a bunker the last sixty year.
    The whole tenot of your post, kismet, put you right into the denier camp – harmless aspects of fascism my arse – I was quite willing to argue reasonably and calm, but reading such bullshit as yours – I am loosing it.

    Other than that: I am not argueing that privately held beliefs come under scrutiny of a anti hate brigade, I just want laws to stop giving nazis – and there are no “neo’s” they are still the same old arseholes – a public platform.

  62. #62 Kismet
    July 18, 2009

    Bye, Peter, if you don’t want to or simply can’t lead a civil discussion. I’m not so keen to hear your trollish ad homs anyway.
    Still I think you are very misinformed if you think there are no harmless aspects of the Third Reich.

  63. #63 Kismet
    July 18, 2009

    Oh, and as expected you *cannot* answer the question? What makes it so special compared to the Khmer or Stalin’s Gulags or…

  64. #64 peter
    July 19, 2009

    Why should I answer someone who apparently has not found it necessary to read any of my posts were I repeatedly pointed to the violence inherent in the ideology itself, not dependent on an interpretation? An ideology that demands the conquering of “lebensraum?
    Go, fuck yourself man, if you ask for respect, you should be willing to give it, your post is disrespectful from the get go.
    The only one trolling here is your with your uninformed stupidity.

  65. #65 Orac
    July 19, 2009

    Why should I answer someone who apparently has not found it necessary to read any of my posts were I repeatedly pointed to the violence inherent in the ideology itself, not dependent on an interpretation? An ideology that demands the conquering of “lebensraum? Go, fuck yourself man, if you ask for respect, you should be willing to give it, your post is disrespectful from the get go. The only one trolling here is your with your uninformed stupidity.

    And your willful denseness over the reasonable objections some commenters have expressed to your apparent belief that it’s hunky dory to suppress free speech is starting to become tiresome to me. While there is room for principled disagreement over where to draw the line when it comes to free speech, your dogmatic apparent belief that the government can be trusted to distinguish dangerous speech from non-dangerous speech is what I find so disturbing. Again, what you propose is to destroy democracy by destroying free speech in order to save it. Your proposed solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Worse, it’s to use the very tactics of fascism (stomping out speech you don’t like) in order to try to protect democracy from fascism. It won’t work; it hasn’t worked.

    Quite frankly, you scare me almost as much as the fascists.

  66. #66 Shay
    July 19, 2009

    @Peter:

    Qui custodie custodies?

  67. #67 Chris
    July 19, 2009

    It is much easier to point and laugh at the skin-head goons when they exercise their right to free speech by parading down the street, than dealing with the their stupid leaflets and vandalism when you force them off the street.

    Back in the day when Butler and his followers were parading around Sandpoint, Idaho — the folks at the side of the road confronting them were larger than their goofy parades. Finally the whole thing was essentially shut down when Butler lost all of his property in a lawsuit because of violence created by his followers.

    Unfortunately, looking at the Orcinus blog the goofy goons are regrouping. Most recently one of the idiots gunned down a family in Arizona, fortunately she and her idiot friends were caught. (note: David Neiwert’s books are very good reads on the subject)

    The fascists and others are much easier to deal with in the light of day, not when they are pushed into the shadows.

  68. #68 Chris
    July 19, 2009

    @James Sweet, I just glanced at the article you linked to. Oh, wow! I am going to have to give a good read (but I need to put up a shelf in the greenhouse and some other things before it gets to warm).

    Along with the Dave Neiwert books, try Jon Ronson’s take on these groups. His outlook is more humorous.

  69. #69 Kismet
    July 19, 2009

    I guess you deem those questions insulting just because you did not even try to answer them. Assuming you are a hardliner not interested in reflection, I’ll try to answer some of them:

    —–Why is this ideology so special? Why don’t you treat all other deadly ideologies the same?

    There are many other dangerous ideologies. It doesn’t make sense to focus just on one, because of our past. Why am I allowed to verbally spit in the face of those who suffered under Stalin or the Khmer without any prosecution? (no matter how many of them I should offend? Normally, speech deemed “merely” offensive is not forbidden in Austria or Germany as long as it is not hate speech or libel i.e. diretly causing harm)
    The best argument I’ve seen advanced why we should treat NS speech differently is that, because of our history, there are many NS victims in Austria who may *really* suffer from such ridicule. But this is not true anymore, as most of their victims have deceased. Actually most people who feel particularly offended by NS talk points these days (as compared to someone laughing at Stalin’s Gulags for instance), have been more or less “indoctrinated” to feel that way.
    IMHO this focus on our own not-so-recent past is somewhat narcisstic (Germans and Austrians apparently love to feel guilty), diverting attention from and devaluing the victims of more recent, but no less inhumane and murderous, crimes.

    It’s also a great slippery slope, possibly enabling the gov to ban basically anything they deem inappropriate. Make no mistake, this is slowly happening and would be happening more often if it wasn’t for the elections (too much censorship does not get you re-elected).
    The oppression of the arts in Germany is unbearable for a developed nation. (see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisregen#Censorship)

    —–and why we need those redundant (and Orwellian) laws to suppress — while all our other rights are protected by more general laws.

    We really don’t need those redundant laws. Every crime those neonazis could imagine or do is already covered by some other law (and most of them have always been). Hate speech, libel, international or private law; universal declaration of human rights, law of war, etc

    Similarly we also don’t need laws against the wearing of nazi symbols. What gives them the right to dictate whether I’m allowed to wear a symbol which use dates back to the neolithic period?

  70. #70 peter
    July 19, 2009

    “Fascism thrives on legality, it lawyers up every chance it gets, the better to use any institution of democracy to quietly and methodically corrupt and demolish every institution of democracy.

    At root, fascism feeds on apathy and despair, the sense that a society so fundamentally dysfunctional, so paralytically broken, cannot be set right.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1099848.html

    I scare Orac as much as fascists, him advocating that a democratically elected government cannot be trusted, nor can its citizenry be trusted, to put limits on free speech that advocate crimes, because it will automatically lead to the fascism it intends to fight?
    Either this is a comment on the non viability of democratic governance or an irrational belief that any idea can be defeated by exposing it.
    Maybe the approach by the German and Austrian governments are as irrational by trying to outlaw publicly certain utterances, but your idea has been tried once before and failed.
    The German left had tried to fight the idea of fascism at a time when the dire consequences of its gaining power could not have been known.
    Now there are still a substantive amount of people worldwide, from Europe to the middle east and North America, who still after the exposed criminality of this idea find it attractive.

    Good luck with your approach, there is nothing to be gained from any further discussing the topic as I remain as unconvinced by your approach, to have murder and genocide publicly advocated unfettered by any restrictions, as you remain unconvinced that access to public platforms should be restricted to those advocating it.

  71. #71 Orac
    July 19, 2009

    I scare Orac as much as fascists, him advocating that a democratically elected government cannot be trusted, nor can its citizenry be trusted, to put limits on free speech that advocate crimes, because it will automatically lead to the fascism it intends to fight?

    Either this is a comment on the non viability of democratic governance or an irrational belief that any idea can be defeated by exposing it.

    No government can be fully trusted to put limits on political speech, democratic or otherwise. That is one reason why the U.S. is a democratic republic, not a direct democracy, and that’s why there are rights spelled out in the Constitution that the government is not allowed to abrogate.

    I suppose that I must count myself in good stead with our Founding Fathers, who similarly did not trust government to place limits on free speech, so much so that they enshrined a prohibition against doing so right there in the very First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, I am against all but minimal infringements of free speech as spelled out in Brandenberg v. Ohio

    Indeed, I would counter your comment by contending that in fact it is you who do not trust democracy. After all, you think it needs protecting from the hate speech of a lunatic fringe. I do not. I have confidence that our democratic republic can withstand the inconvenience of such lunatics without having to clamp down on the free speech of all.

    No, it is definitely you who lack faith in democracy and think it needs to be diluted down by infringements on free speech in order to protect it.

  72. #72 Kismet
    July 20, 2009

    It *has* led to to the fascism we all tried to fight. German pseudo-fascistic censorship is already pretty scary as is (see my last post). We don’t need more people begging for more of the same.
    Just continue ignoring the truth Peter. Maybe it will go away… or maybe not.

  73. #73 Bronze Dog
    July 20, 2009

    If we allow laws to censor an idea for being “purely hateful,” what’s to stop the government from using that rationale again for when an idea really isn’t “purely hateful.”

    I’ve been called such for asking religious fundamentalists questions about their beliefs they couldn’t answer. I live in Texas, where almost no one knows anything at all about how a constitutional democracy works. If you ban one idea, you open the door for anyone to censor anything they’re uncomfortable with.

  74. #74 peter
    July 20, 2009

    Having grown up in Germany after the war – born in 1949 – Nazi History, the pain those criminals caused, the atrocities committed was a part of everyday live.
    Then came the processes against the death camp operators in the ’60s and seventies. That history was part and parcel of growing up in Germany during the ’60s and seventies, including discussions with deniers, fights with nazis. discussions of guilt vs. responsibility etc.
    Then came the stories how my own family was effected by them, a granddad in a KZ, fortunately only one for political prisoners not an extermination Camp, the Uncle having been beaten up for three days by SS goons…
    And then there trips to european countries, when the fact that you are a german and the misdeeds were always rubbed into your face.
    And after that education, sponsored by all of the “winners” of WW@ you find it astonishing that my hate towards Nazis may border on the irrational? That I simply cannot abide them spouting their deadly nonsense again, unrestricted peddling a message of death and destruction again, after having proven they are capable of the worst?

    Sorry, from growing up in a city were ruins were the places I played in and were around me for quite some time, as a result of an ideology that brought out the worst in man, I have not the complacency to calmly accept their freedom to argue for genocide, superiority of race, enslavemnet of the non arian vermin and the right to grab by force what this superior race needs.

  75. #75 peter
    July 20, 2009

    “I have confidence that our democratic republic can withstand the inconvenience of such lunatics without having to clamp down on the free speech of all.”

    After the Nazi occupation of Germany once, partly democatically elected and partly helped by the Non Nazi right, I suppose you can understand why Germany never again will risk to have this ideology succeed.
    And I still hold the one advocating that ideology as responsible for the death of the maybe hundred immigrants and gypsies killed in Germany through the last decade and half after “reunification”.
    Therefore they should be charged with a crime as well. Speech advocating murder, even whe couched in an ideology that only speaks of “superiority”, but everyone knows what this superirity means in context of history and politics is as criminal as the perpetrator. It is just a matter of degree.

  76. #76 Rogue Medic
    July 30, 2009

    peter,

    I wrote a bit of a longer response to this.

    First Amendment and Holocaust Denial.

  77. #77 The_Librarian
    November 4, 2009

    Err, Kismet, I understand your point, but.
    When confronting an European on the Holocaust, avoid to say things like “harmless aspects of the Third Reich”. Or, like I was told 2 or 3 times by Canadians, “Stalin did worse”.
    A lot of German, Austrian and French peoples will go ballistic upon hearing this. For obvious historical reasons, we are culturally primed to consider the nazis as the epitome of Evil, and the WWII, a dark age.
    And by implying that it was not so bad a period, you seem to be making fun of our past. Something like “come on, you sissy, Pol Pot’s torturers were more inventive”.

    I agree with you it’s narcissic. Come back in 50 years, and maybe we will be less touchy about it.

    Actually, there is more to this. For one thing, “it was not that bad” is typical of that our revisionnists in France or Germany would say, quite nonchalantly. If you say something like this, peoples like Peter or myself will assume (wrongly, I am sure), that you are one of them. Don’t take it personally, as I said, it’s cultural. Purely emotionnal reaction.
    Additionally, I am sorry Kismet, but pointing to Stalin or the Kmer is just like Peter pointing the Patriot Act. We are talking about a stinky bunch of evildoers who had taken over our countries, with the cooperation of our elites and the acceptance of a good part of the population. Not something to be really proud of. And not something which happened in another faraway country and was maybe worse (the full-scale genocid of the Kmers), maybe not as worse (a limited and hopefully temporary reduction of human rights, the Patriot Act). And now, more than 60 years after, in the same countries, nazism still has supporters, who are talking openly of an encore. And their numbers are going up, not down. Our top French revisionnist, JM Lepen, has a steady 10% at each presidential election, up to 20-30% if enough citizens forget to vote. He was very close to be elected in 2002. Germany, Austria, Italy have some similar nationalistic bogeymen. Sorry. Americans can dismiss fascists as a threat. Frenchs, I’m not so sure. So, are there any reason for a German or a French to focus on nazis? Well yes, it’s happening in my country. Or Peter’s country.

    And, last point, 60 years is not enough to forget some unpleasant aspects of WWII. As one who was nicknamed chicken by the late President Bush Jr, and a surrendering monkey in popular US or Canadian cultures, I can tell you the past of my country is still going to haunt me for some time, whenever I am narcissic about it, or not.

  78. #78 The_Librarian
    November 4, 2009

    In my previous post, I pointed the cultural particularity of Frenchs (and Germans, Austrians,… I suppose) versus (neo-)nazis.
    But now, I am going to disappoint Peter, by bringing arguments to the Free Speech proponents.
    In France (and other European countries), it is illegal to be a Holocaust revisionist (or négationniste). You could face fines if you publish any such idea. For what it’s worth, the European Court of Human Rights did not seem to find anything wrong with such anti-speech laws, so far. In France, it started with the law Gayssot, in 1990.
    At the time, we Frenchs were very happy about this.
    Now, I’m not so sure.
    A few years ago, a similar law was proposed in the French National Assembly, to prosecute anyone denying the armenian genocide in Turkey, around 1915-1916. Fortunately, it was rejected.
    I say fortunately, because it was becoming evident: the first law opened a door better left close. Anyone with a piece of History he/she wants to preserve the way he/she see it, would like a similar law.
    And suddenly, I did’t feel so confortable about these anti-revisionnism laws.
    More recently, my president, Mr Sarkozy, expressed the desire to make sure the History was taught the right way in all French schools. Like, reading to children the lettre d’adieu of Guy Mocquet, a teenager resistant, to his mom, the day before the German firing squad. A revised letter, without these confusing references to “camarades” (the poor boy was communist). It’s supposed to be patriotic, godammit.
    Or like, when teaching about French colonialism, not forgetting about the “positive aspects” of colonization.
    Now, I am sure I don’t want anymore politicians meddling into History teaching, even with good intentions.

    But I still thing that nazis are Evil. So I feel between two chairs about freedom of speech. Cultural bias, eh?

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