It occurs to me that I haven’t written about this topic in quite a while, but a recent event makes me think that maybe now’s the time to revisit this topic. I’m referring to Holocaust denial. Newer readers may not know that part of what got me involved in online discussions back in the late 1990s was Holocaust denial. Indeed, a lengthy post about how I discovered Holocaust denial was one of the earliest substantive posts on this blog, popping up a mere month after I started blogging, which just so happened to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. That post described how, back in 1998, while wandering around Usenet, I first stumbled into a Usenet forum known as alt.revisionism. The “revisionism” there, of course, was the false revisionism of the Holocaust denier. After all revisionism is a legitimate scholarly activity among historians. Holocaust deniers, however, corrupt the term to use it as a cloak under which to hide their anti-Semitism and Hitler apologia.

Over the years, I’ve periodically returned to the topic of Holocaust denial. Strip Holocaust denial of the racism, anti-Semitism, and Nazi sympathies inherent in it, and the methods of abusing historical evidence, scientific evidence, and documentary evidence to downplay or deny that the Nazi regime had a systematic plan to exterminate European Jewry used by Holocaust deniers are, at their heart, very similar to the methods of abusing and denying scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of vaccines used by anti-vaccinationists, for example. There is a great deal of similarity between the methods of Holocaust denial and the methods of denying science embodied in the anti-vaccine movement or by alt-med believers. Although I’ve written less and less about it over the last two or three years (or at least so it seems to me), I haven’t lost interest in the topic. It’s just that, as science-based medicine and discussions of quackery and anti-vaccine lunacy took over this blog, Holocaust denial seemed not to fit in as well. Still, whenever something interesting came up with respect to Holocaust denial, I, such as when Bishop Richard Williamson was busted in some extreme Holocaust denial after his order’s having apparently managed to get Pope Benedict XVI to reconcile and rescind the excommunication of some of its bishops.

One issue comes up time and time again in these discussions, and that’s the limits of free speech. For example, when David Irving was arrested in Austria for Holocaust denial, I referred to the campaign to jail Irving for his Holocaust denial as “stomping free speech flat.” My reaction was the same when Germany decided to prosecute Bishop Williamson for Holocaust denial as well. The bottom line is that I value free speech to the point where I consider even Holocaust denial to be protected speech, and I thank the wisdom of hte Founding Fathers for having had the wisdom to have written and ratified the First Amendment to the Constitution. To my mind, the answer to Nazi apologetics like Holocaust denial is not its suppression as “hate speech,” but rather to shine the light of day on the lies and distortions of Holocaust deniers and refute them.

These issues came to the fore a couple of days ago in Canada at an event in Toronto hosted by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies and moderated by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Highlighting the the Spirit of Hope Benefit event was a panel discussion for event was a debate between author Salman Rushdie, who has been under the shadow of a fatwa for what was perceived as a criticism of Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses, and Holocaust survivor and peace activist Elie Wiesel. Both had a lot to say about free speech, religion, and Holocaust denial:

Worse. It would be much worse,” said Salman Rushdie on Monday, in a quick private speculation about what publishing The Satanic Verses would be like today.

“The argument has gotten more heated since then,” he said, and left it at that, seeming to say more with one arched eyebrow than some people say in their whole lives.

To say it would be worse is saying a lot. People died back then, such as translator Hitoshi Igarashi, after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put a divine bounty on Mr. Rushdie’s head, a fatwa, for blaspheming against Islam in his 1988 novel.

I have little doubt that Rushdie is probably correct. Radical Muslims have become, if anything, even more sensitive to anything they perceive as criticism of their religion, even committing murder. Rushdie also gets it right when he waid:

As ever, it is largely an argument about blasphemy.

“We are in danger of losing the battle for freedom of speech,” Mr. Rushdie said. It is being recast as a Western imposition, not a universal human right. Respect is being redefined as agreement, and censorship disguised as a virtuous defence of diversity. His own fatwa, he said, was “a rejection of the idea of fiction as a form” and “the beginning of something that was going to spread around the world.”

Freedom of expression and imagination “is now very much back in question, and is strongly under attack by religious authorities and religious armies of different sorts, and not only Islam,” Mr. Rushdie said.

Sadly, this does appear to be true. Rather than being viewed as a universal right necessary for freedom and the basis of a civil society, free speech is all too often characterized as a “Western” construct. The key to a civil society is that people can disagree without becoming violent. The reason is that, in a free society, there are societal and governmental structures and beliefs in place that are virtually universally accepted as the means by which disputes will be resolved. It’s messy, and it’s loud. Sometimes it looks horribly chaotic, but it works.

Particularly problematic is how religion reacts to criticism. Because religion is viewed by its believers as received truth, key elements of which cannot be questioned, sometimes even under pain of separation or death, religious people and leaders often react very negatively to criticism of their religious beliefs. Actually, “very negatively” is all too often a massive understatment. Fortunately, here in the U.S., we are fortunate enough to have the First Amendment, which, although it doesn’t stop attempts to outlaw offensive speech or criticism of religion, it does make it a lot harder. It also certainly doesn’t stop certain Christians seem to share the Muslim dislike of criticism of their religion. Elsewhere, or so it sometimes seems, pressure to suppress speech that causes “offense” appears to be on the rise, with proposed or existing blasphemy laws in Ireland, Spain, and Poland, among others. It’s so bad that certain nations have made efforts to push the U.N. to pass a binding anti-blasphemy resolution.

As has been said here and elsewhere time and time again, everyone has a right to free speech, but that right does not come with a right not to be offended. Free speech is worthless if it doesn’t offend someone from time to time. It doesn’t matter if it’s political speech, criticism of religion, or even Holocust denial. Unfortunately, Elie Wiesel, although agreeing that religion is “like money or love, saying “It all depends on what you do with it,” agrees that there should be freedom of speech, even freedom to criticize religion–but (and it’s a really big but):

He said the sole exception should be Holocaust denial, which must be banned. And the sole exception to that exception, he said, is America, where he lives, and where free speech is regarded as such a fundamental part of life.

“I don’t want to touch the First Amendment,” he said.

And:

His argument about free speech is compassionate, focused on the “pain, humiliation and agonies” of the children of Holocaust survivors. “When I think of them, I accept that freedom of speech in this case should be against the law,” he said.

That position, reflected in the laws of Germany among other countries, is vulnerable to one of the most common criticisms of restrictions on free speech — that hurt feelings are not reason enough.

I never thought I’d say this, but here Elie Wiesel is dead wrong. I really hate to say it about who’s done things as great as what Elie Wiesel has done with his life, but he is human, after all, and therefore has his blind spots. Quite frankly, Wiesel’s advocacy of a ban on Holocaust denial while championing free speech to criticize Islam doesn’t just look hypocritical. From my perspective, it is hypocritical. Why this one exception to free speech for Holocaust denial bans? Why not other exceptions to free speech–such as for criticizing religion or racist hate speech against others besides Jews? And if Wiesel really thinks Holocaust denial should be banned because it leads to such evil, then why is he against taking on the First Amendment in order to make such a ban reality? Why should America be the sole exception where spouting Holocaust denial is Constitutionally protected speech? Just because it has the First Amendment?

Finally, if, as Wiesel claims, the pain that Holocaust denial causes Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivors is “enough” to justify banning that particular form of speech, then why isn’t other pain caused by other forms of offensive speech “enough” to justify banning that speech? Consider the case of the “Reverend” Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church and infamous “God Hates Fags” website. Phelps and his groupies have taken to picketing and protesting at the funerals of American servicemen killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, taunting them that these soldiers are burning in hell for having served a country that, as Phelps’ odious group says, “tolerates fags.” If Holocaust denial should be outlawed because it causes pain and offense to the children of Holocaust survivors, then why shouldn’t Fred Phelps and his despicable band of cultists be muzzled as well for the pain and offense they cause to the children of brave soldiers killed in battle?

Sadly, even if I agreed with Wiesel about the desirability of bans on Holocaust denial, which (as everybody here knows) I do not, I have to conclude that his arguments in this article are inconsistent to the point of incoherence. Maybe they were better in person, presented in whole, but I doubt it.

Not surprisingly, I find myself far more in agreement with Salman Rushdie than with Elie Wiesel. Rushdie points out that laws against Holocaust denial turn evil little racist twits into free speech martyrs and allows the most vile and despicable of morons to wrap themselves in the mantle of free speech.

Personally, I say: Let them have their free speech. Then bury them with refutations and ridicule.

Comments

  1. #1 David N. Brown
    June 8, 2010

    McCarthy@183,
    I would not presume to compare the problems posed by holocaust denial in the US with those in Germany, etc. But, even a national-level ban leaves room for local discretion and flexibility, which I think would not be the case if the UN or EU delivered a ruling on the issue.

    You mention the Balkan genocides; I think this is a good example of how “denial bans” could easily go too far. I consider myself a “skilled amateur” in Balkans scholarship. (My research forms the basis for my “Exotroopers” series.) In some cases, particularly the utterly mind-boggling Ustasha attrocities, I have suspected consensus scholarship of erring on the low side. But, I still respect the professionals, and I certainly would not wish to have the Serbian or any other government intervening on “my” side.

    I think the most fundamental issue is whether it is better for the government to act rather than private citizens. I would say no. Waiting for the government to act to ban an odious idea strikes me as too close to “good men doing nothing”.

  2. #2 Anthony McCarthy
    June 8, 2010

    T. Bruce McNeely, you don’t think there would be a similar article of controversies around the American First Amendment? Because, if anything, it’s a longer and more twisted history. Now that the Republican-right on the Supreme Courts have handed our election system to the highest bidder and both domestic and foreign corporations all hell’s going to break loose.

    Brown, I can call you “Brown” can’t I? You think I don’t know that there are piles of bodies on several sides in the Balkans? I’ve read a fair amount about it over the years. You know, I remember when I was sitting in eighth grade and having my teacher say that when Tito went that it was going to explode and there would be blood shed that could involve all of Europe and the Soviet Union (it was in the mid 60s). I don’t think most places would require a strong man to keep the lid on ethnic hatred but if you allow it to be freely vented, as it was after Tito did die and the subsequent government couldn’t keep a lid on it or hold it together and all that wonderful free speech, including all that freely expressed hate speech, broke out, all hell broke loose and the bodies started piling up and the war on women and children commenced.

    You were saying?

    Scott, go and lecture Israel that they should allow Holocaust denial in that country and neo-Nazism and let me know what they say.

    Do you ever listen to yourself?

  3. #3 Scott
    June 8, 2010

    A position being unpopular doesn’t mean that it isn’t morally proper. Or vice versa.

  4. #4 W. Kevin Vicklund
    June 8, 2010

    Scott, go and lecture Israel that they should allow Holocaust denial in that country and neo-Nazism and let me know what they say.

    Fatwa envy!

  5. #5 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 8, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy:

    Did you read the article I linked to? It brings up multiple cases where the Canadian HRC is used by various parties to squelch dissent, something you imply has not happened in Canada.

    I can’t figure out what your reply has to do with this.

  6. #6 Matthew
    June 8, 2010

    Anthony,

    You’re an adult, I’m sure you can use google to find the definition of Poe.

    [you do know that a number of Nazis who were prosecuted didn’t like the legal standards that brought them to justice either.]

    Comparing Erlinger to a Nazi is beyond ridiculous. Apparently, he is being charged for his court work as a lawyer defending accused war criminals. If this is indeed the case, it’s an incredibly broad anti-speech law.

    From what I’ve read, his defense did not deny the genocide, but rather attributed a portion of the blame to members of the current government, further reinforcing that this is an attempt to quell criticism rather than preserve history.

    [Victoire Ingabire has been accused of trying to use ethnic tensions in her campaign. You do know about that, don’t you? ]

    She’s been charged with genocide denial, not “using ethnic tensions” It seems the definition of denial is getting broader by the moment. This is exactly what critics of the Rwandan legislation feared; that an ambiguously worded law could be used by the government to squash rivals.

    [You do realize that Rwanda has been under active attack from the remnants of the forces that instigated the genocide, don’t you? And that those forces are comprised of Hutus. And that they’re based in Congo, terrorizing people in both countries.]

    That you are presenting this without any qualifiers indicates you’re being dishonest. There have been a number of military actions by Rwanda into Congo, however, the most recent ones appear to be more about securing mineral wealth under the guise of fighting the Hutu remnants.

    [I never claimed Rwanda was perfect, their gay rights situation, though pretty good for most of the continent, certainly isn’t wonderful.]

    Again, you seem to be omitting a great deal. Rwanda has recently considered legislation modeled after the infamous Uganda Bill. I don’t believe its gone anywhere but it’s been common knowledge for even a casual observer of Gay Rights. I believe the punishment proposed was a 5-10 year prison term for those convicted of same sex relationships.
    And this is a government you would trust to determine the limits of freedom of speech? Ouch.

    [But they’re entirely justified in suppressing ethnic hatred that has led to one genocide attempt and another one always a threat]

    The question is, are they justifiably suppressing ethnic hatred, or are they using a perpetual threat to maintain power? From what is known, the latter certainly seems a valid possibility. Yet you won’t even acknowledge the possibility. Instead, you’ve held up Rwanda’s law as an example several times.

  7. #7 David N. Brown
    June 8, 2010

    McCarthy@202,
    The carnage of the Balkans in the 1990s wasn’t simply the product of “venting”, it was the result of the intentional poicies of Milosevic (also Tudeman). This included sponsoring hate speech against Croatians and Muslims. Obviously, he would simply have dispensed with any laws that opposed these activities.

  8. #8 Anthony McCarthy
    June 8, 2010

    Brown, Milosevic’s and the other nationalists – on the several sides — rise to power was entirely unrelated to the propaganda and lies they put out? Their hate speech, their speeches playing on resentments and hatred and fear and suspicion, not responsible for the events that followed? Were the ethnic murders some kind of spontaneous event unrelated to that? Gee, while I didn’t understand the language, I seem to recall some pretty hair raising translations of some of those.

    As to what’s online about the Balkans, there is so much propaganda garbage to wade through that you’ve got to be really, really careful. It’s almost like the Wiki articles related to the interests of organized skeptics, of risky unreliability.

    — She’s been charged with genocide denial, not “using ethnic tensions” Matthew

    What I’ve read of Victoire Ingabire’s history leads me to conclude that the people who suspect her of being interested in using Hutu ethnicity as a means of gaining power are afraid of the consequences, with some reason. Her speech at the memorial to the Tutsis slaughtered in the genocide apparently was seen as an indication that she was going that way. I can understand how people in Rwanda might be nervous about anything other than an ethnically neutral political movement.

    — There have been a number of military actions by Rwanda into Congo, however, the most recent ones appear to be more about securing mineral wealth under the guise of fighting the Hutu remnants. Matthew

    First, if you’re using those accusations as an attack on Rwanda’s anti-hate speech and genocide denial laws as opposed to American style “free speech”, the United States has been plundering countries in Africa and Latin America and Asia for virtually its entire history. Using the Congo that way is especially ridiculous, considering it was the United States that murdered Patrice Lumumba and installed Mobutu, largely for the purpose of getting hold of mineral resources and near slave labor.

    I’m really interested in the nature of the even handedness in that line of reasoning. If those charges against Rwanda are true, they are as true for most of the countries around the Congo and many in Europe and the United States, though the history of the United States involvement in Congo is especially bad.

    Second, the remnants of the same Hutu gangs involved in the Rwandan genocide are in Congo and have terrorized and murdered people in both Congo and Rwanda. You haven’t denied that, have you? And they pose a threat to the same people they targeted in 1994.

    I said that the situation of gay people in Rwanda wasn’t wonderful. As you said the bill appears to be going nowhere, as I recall gay relationships aren’t illegal. They are in large parts of Africa.

    Is this your argument for hate speech and genocide denial? Because I’m really having a hard time taking this seriously, as someone who is quite use to American demagogues railing against me and other glbt folks, calling for our deaths and eternal damnation, often at the funerals of members of the military, entirely unrelated to the focus of their publicity stunts, aided and abetted by the courts and the free speech professionals in the name of free speech. Your free speech absolutism is probably the greatest boon for anti-gay invective in the English speaking world, today.

  9. #9 Anthony McCarthy
    June 8, 2010

    203

    A position being unpopular doesn’t mean that it isn’t morally proper. Or vice versa.

    Posted by: Scott

    But that sort of contradicts what orac said to me @119, doesn’t it? The one in which he crowed about no one supporting the position I was taking here.

    Or does that just count for your side.

    No, I’m serious. Go lecture the Israelis about how they should allow Holocaust denial and neo-Nazis in their country. Give them the benefit of your wisdom on that issue. I’d love to know if they manage to come up with some points in refutation. I can imagine how they might want to risk the equivalent of the Phelps spectacles at Yad Vashem under American style “free speech-Free expression” as interpreted by the Supreme Court in agreement with the free speech industry here.

    Then you can go Bosnia and Rwanda and give them the same lecture. I’m sure your standing up for the rights of Nazis will go over big all over Europe too, Serbia especially.

  10. #10 closetpuritan
    June 8, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy: You can see the connection between Holocaust denial and mass murder, but you can’t see the connection between saying blacks are intellectually inferior and slavery? No, Watson didn’t advocate mass murder. Not all Holocaust deniers advocate mass murder, either. In fact, it seems like it would be hard to find one who would admit they’re in favor of mass murder (whatever they may think privately) if they are denying mass murder to make their cause more palatable. So if you’re going to use “advocating mass murder” as your criteria to limit speech, Holocaust denial won’t automatically be banned. (I’m not sure why you’re going on about Watson and women. To make sure no one thinks you’re defending him in general?)

    How come you’re bringing up Israeli reaction to suggested repeal of Holocaust-denying laws? This seems like an argument of, “People get mad if you say this; therefore you shouldn’t be allowed to say it.” That is not at all relevant to the argument you’ve presented previously that is purely about the potential to encourage mass murder, not about hurt feelings, and I don’t think you’re making the hurt-feelings argument honestly. How is it different from saying that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie are upsetting Muslims, so they shouldn’t be allowed to publish? Does the likely outcry in the U.S. over infringement of free speech, if Holocaust-denying laws were attempted here, “prove” that we’re right not to have such laws in the U.S., even as the Israeli reaction “proves” that they’re the right laws for Israel?

    Why haven’t you addressed the fact that when laws against hate speech linked to mass murder would be most relevant, they’d be most likely cast aside/never enacted? It seems clear you have no answer to that.

  11. #11 Anthony McCarthy
    June 8, 2010

    —- You can see the connection between Holocaust denial and mass murder, but you can’t see the connection between saying blacks are intellectually inferior and slavery? closetpuritan

    Of course I can, just about all of the homicidal racists believe that black people are intellectually inferior to white people. But as I pointed out, and as you admit, Watson didn’t call for the mass murder of black people.

    —- No, Watson didn’t advocate mass murder. closetpuritan

    I pointed out that Watson apparently doesn’t think women are as smart as men, many men don’t. However you can be a bigot of that kind and not favor the mass murder of black people or women. People in general don’t favor the murder or people who are held to be less intelligent than themselves, perhaps because they’re just smart enough to realize there are people smarter than they are and they don’t want to give those people ideas.

    —- Not all Holocaust deniers advocate mass murder, either. closetpuritan

    Who, specifically, by name, do you mean.

    I believe that all Holocaust deniers are, at bottom, pro-killing. Or maybe I should say virtually all of them, though I really doubt that reservation. And, as seen in the entirely disreputable and creepy Fred Leuchter, you don’t have to admit your purpose in order to be useful to others.

    — How come you’re bringing up Israeli reaction to suggested repeal of Holocaust-denying laws? closetpuritan

    Israel has laws banning Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism, as well as a ban on the denial of crimes against humanity. Other than that, the reason I brought up Israel is obvious.

    — How is it different from saying that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie are upsetting Muslims, so they shouldn’t be allowed to publish? closetpuritan

    Neither Rushdie nor AHA have supported mass murder, have they? Though I did question AHA’s association with Sam Harris, wondering how women in countries that would be the targets of nuclear first strikes would think about that association.

    — Why haven’t you addressed the fact that when laws against hate speech linked to mass murder would be most relevant, they’d be most likely cast aside/never enacted? It seems clear you have no answer to that. closetpuritan

    You can say the same thing about any law. People who break laws don’t tend to follow laws. I think this is one of the oddest arguments anyone has ever made in this fight.

  12. #12 Orac
    June 8, 2010

    — Not all Holocaust deniers advocate mass murder, either. closetpuritan

    Who, specifically, by name, do you mean.

    I can’t speak for closetpuritan, but I can point out that David Irving, arguably the most famous Holocaust denier there is, does not advocate mass murder, as detestable as he is. What he does try to do is to play the “moral equivalency” gambit and argue that the Allied bombing of German cities was every bit as evil as what Hitler did to the Jews.

    Also, Ernst Zundel, as far as I know doesn’t advocate mass murder. Neither does Mark Weber.

  13. #13 Anthony McCarthy
    June 8, 2010

    Or, I’m certain that David Irving, who has tried to pass himself off as a credible historian in Britain wouldn’t come out and admit his reasons for trying to falsify history. The Nazis tried to cover it up as they were doing it.

    Ernst Zundel, see above.

    I don’t believe much of anything that either of them say. You know that some reporter in Canada found out that Zundel’s maternal grandfather ( as I recall ) was Jewish.

    I really don’t think this thread is going any new places that are any different from where it’s been. I could probably keep this up indefinitely but no one’s come up with any refutation that sticks. There is no rational reason that genocide denial and the advocacy for mass murder should be allowed. It should be banned, it can safely be banned and there is a moral duty to suppress them both.

  14. #14 closetpuritan
    June 8, 2010

    — Why haven’t you addressed the fact that when laws against hate speech linked to mass murder would be most relevant, they’d be most likely cast aside/never enacted? It seems clear you have no answer to that. closetpuritan

    You can say the same thing about any law. People who break laws don’t tend to follow laws. I think this is one of the oddest arguments anyone has ever made in this fight.

    Uh, no, you CAN’T say the same thing about any law. This isn’t merely that people who break laws don’t follow laws–individuals don’t have the power to repeal laws, or not pass them in the first place. The government can repeal laws, and in order for murder to take place on a mass scale, there would have to be enough support for it in the populace to make it near-impossible to pass such a law, and most likely also enough support to repeal such a law if it were already in place.

    —- You can see the connection between Holocaust denial and mass murder, but you can’t see the connection between saying blacks are intellectually inferior and slavery? closetpuritan

    Of course I can, just about all of the homicidal racists believe that black people are intellectually inferior to white people. But as I pointed out, and as you admit, Watson didn’t call for the mass murder of black people.

    So even when such thinking has been connected to a crime akin to mass murder–slavery–it doesn’t count unless that person has specifically advocated mass murder–UNLESS they’re denying the Holocaust, then they DON’T have to specifically advocate mass murder. You claim that even when Holocaust-deniers don’t advocate mass murder, you KNOW that they support mass murder–how come you don’t KNOW that about people who claim blacks are inferior?

    —- No, Watson didn’t advocate mass murder. closetpuritan

    I pointed out that Watson apparently doesn’t think women are as smart as men, many men don’t. However you can be a bigot of that kind and not favor the mass murder of black people or women.

    I’m still not sure WHY you’re pointing it out. Do you think it’s a “gotcha” because I only brought up how his views could be used against blacks and not how they could be used against women? (I chose to use the one about blacks rather than the one about women because it was a big news story–and because although one can imagine a Handmaid’s Tale-type scenario, one can’t easily imagine men wiping out women, for obvious self-interested reasons. These are less applicable in the case of black people.)

    — How come you’re bringing up Israeli reaction to suggested repeal of Holocaust-denying laws? closetpuritan

    Israel has laws banning Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism, as well as a ban on the denial of crimes against humanity. Other than that, the reason I brought up Israel is obvious.

    So basically, the reason I described: you don’t really believe that people’s emotions are a good reason to ban speech, but you’re using the argument anyway. Presumably because you think it makes a good appeal to emotion. But then we get into the problem of saying that only some people’s emotional distress counts, and the government gets to decide whose.

  15. #15 Orac
    June 8, 2010

    Or, I’m certain that David Irving, who has tried to pass himself off as a credible historian in Britain wouldn’t come out and admit his reasons for trying to falsify history. The Nazis tried to cover it up as they were doing it.

    Sure he would, and he has, at least inadvertently. He’s made multiple statements over the years about how he doesn’t like Jews and admires Hitler. He has not, to my knowledge, made either inadvertently or knowingly a statement advocating mass murder. I bet you can’t find such a statement, either, because it doesn’t exist.

    As for Ernst Zundel, you’ve posted nothing that demonstrates he advocates mass murder.

    I also notice you haven’t refuted my comment about Mark Weber at all. Do you even know who Mark Weber is? I’ll add a couple of more vile Holocaust deniers who do not, to my knowledge, advocate mass murder: Bradley Smith and Michael Hoffman.

  16. #16 closetpuritan
    June 8, 2010

    Also, regarding government deciding what’s true “all the time”: Yes, there are situations where gov’t decides what’s true, and it often goes in directions I don’t like (climate change research under the Bush administration, the many trials that are decided incorrectly). What IS unprecedented is punishing people for making claims that the government has decided are false.

  17. #17 Matthew
    June 9, 2010

    [There is no rational reason that genocide denial and the advocacy for mass murder should be allowed. It should be banned, it can safely be banned and there is a moral duty to suppress them both. ]

    The reasons for not suppressing freedom of speech, as opposed to incitement to violence, have been give repeatedly; among them, that such bans can be easily misused to stifle speech far removed from the original intent.

    It appears the Rwandan genocide law is fulfilling this very fear; that such laws will be misused to squash political opposition. You even seem to concede the point, you certainly haven’t refuted it, but somehow, this isn’t a danger.

    [— There have been a number of military actions by Rwanda into Congo, however, the most recent ones appear to be more about securing mineral wealth under the guise of fighting the Hutu remnants. Matthew

    First, if you’re using those accusations as an attack on Rwanda’s anti-hate speech and genocide denial laws as opposed to American style “free speech”]

    I apologize if I was unclear. In post 187 Anthony said…

    [You do realize that Rwanda has been under active attack from the remnants of the forces that instigated the genocide, don’t you? And that those forces are comprised of Hutus. And that they’re based in Congo, terrorizing people in both countries.]

    Clearly, you’re stating that a justification for the Rwandan law is some “clear and present” danger from the remaining Hutu. And this was indeed the rationale for Rwanda’s original incursions into Congo. However, recent reports from the UN indicate the current action in the Congo is mostly motivated by resource seizure, not a fear of Hutu invasion. This undermines your implied justification. Failing to even mention this seems a substantial omission.

    [Second, the remnants of the same Hutu gangs involved in the Rwandan genocide are in Congo and have terrorized and murdered people in both Congo and Rwanda. You haven’t denied that, have you?]

    Absolutely not. But again, you seem to be omitting that accusations of serious human rights abuses have been leveled at all the participants, including Rwanda.

    [Is this your argument for hate speech and genocide denial? ]

    Um, no. It’s my argument in favor of freedom of speech, specifically, the first amendment. Many commentators have pointed out the dangers inherent in allowing the government to determine acceptable speech and you’ve dismissed those dangers. Now you’ve been given examples of those dangers manifesting in exactly the manner predicted, and you’ve ignored the examples.

    [Your free speech absolutism is probably the greatest boon for anti-gay invective in the English speaking world, today. ]

    This is stunningly idiotic. I’m sorry, I realize plain insults are not productive but this is just beyond the pale.

    Gay Rights historically has been attacked as immoral, reprehensible, and worthy of censorship in the US. Free speech, in the face of a hostile majority, has allowed progress to be made.

    You think that giving the government censorship powers will mean the homophobic loons are the ones who get suppressed? I don’t share your optimism. Eight years of Republican Governance demonstrates these people are not powerless fringe elements.

    [I’m really having a hard time taking this seriously]

    At least we agree on something.

  18. #18 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    — at least inadvertently. orac

    You mean that passage in his journal in which he recorded the racist ditty he recited to his daughter?

    David Irving certainly kept the historical establishment in Britain and America in the dark for a good long time. Apparently the closer look at his work on WWII has shown he had them hoodwinked about quite a bit of that too.

    Maybe he just, just didn’t happen to notice the nature of the neo-Nazis and various thugs whose gatherings he speaks at. Maybe in his innocence he takes them to be the equivalent of Rotarians with uniforms, goose steps, modified swastikas and Hitler salutes. After all, the poor martyr for free speech seems to have missed large parts of Hitler who he takes for a misunderstood man of greatness whose reputation he wants to restore.

    So now you’re sticking up for Ernst Zundel on the basis that he hasn’t left a clear record of his favoring mass murder. Orac, what do you think Holocaust denial consists of, a clear and honest and well publicized record? What next Fred Leuchter as a real engineer and scientist?

    If I have time I’ll look into the other three names you bring up to see how much I believe their cover story before I start spouting off about them. As demonstrated, I don’t find Wiki and most online sources about these things to be entirely reliable, their being so manipulable.

    I’m finding this discussion a real window into the mental habits of organized skepticism. The habitual insistence on absolute certainty almost on the level of mathematical proof, which is never available outside of mathematics, only one among others. But only when it suits them and their temporary purposes. Using that supposed lapse as a shield for the denial of what is just as clear a fact of history as evolution or the basic properties of the numbers system are in science and math, protecting groups that want to use every and any fantastic ambiguity to further Nazism on that basis. I’m pretty shocked at that happening here in 2010.

    You know, those things you had to write about Randi and climate change should give you a clue, there’s something wrong with your movement at a very fundamental level. That I’m finding the bad habits go as far as this is leading me to think it’s got a lot more potential danger than I’d suspected. The practice of defending neo-Nazis the same way that climate change deniers and creationists operate is really disturbing. Looks like the opposite of enlightenment.

    Do you people ever listen to yourselves?

  19. #19 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    Gay Rights historically has been attacked as immoral, reprehensible, and worthy of censorship in the US. Matthew

    You obviously aren’t familiar with the long and at times disturbing treatment of homosexuality by “science”. One of the foremost voices in the US promoting “recovery” is a psychologist who happens to be an atheist. And plenty of the folks who liked to hook us up to electric shocks and inject us with hormones and any number of other “scientific” tortures have been quite secular.

    — This is stunningly idiotic. I’m sorry, I realize plain insults are not productive but this is just beyond the pale. I’m sorry, I realize plain insults are not productive but this is just beyond the pale. Matthew

    You are familiar with the Phelps cult’s PR opportunities to parade hatred of gay people on the occasion of military funerals, aren’t you? You are familiar with the fact that attempts by government to keep them from doing that have been thwarted in the courts on the basis of “free speech- free expression” aren’t you? You do know that many “civil liberties” groups have entered into those cases on the side of the Phelps tribe, don’t you? You do know that recently one of the fathers of a dead soldier who tried to go to court to keep the Phelps from turning his son’s funeral into a malignant hate fest as PR moment, who lost on the basis of the Phelps “free speech” and was then ordered to pay the Phelps’ legal costs, don’t you?

    And you call my pointing that out idiotic?

    So, Matthew, you think that Israel should open itself up for someone inspired by Phelps to get PR for Holocaust denial at funerals and at Yad Vashim on the basis of “free speech”? How about in the Balkans. I am certain there are many occasions there for funerals and other things to be hijacked by malignant attention seekers. I’m sure that will add to reason and enlightened social interactions, as well as civil government.

    Or am I using too much of that ridicule that you guys think is the great protector of the truth? The one that, as pointed out, didn’t seem to prevent Hitler or any other genocidal thug taking power.

  20. #20 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    What IS unprecedented is punishing people for making claims that the government has decided are false. closetpuritan

    Courts have been punishing people for making false claims since the beginning of courts. So “unprecedented”? Not in any way.

    I think I’ve learned as much as there is to learn in this.

    I hope that people in countries with anti-hate speech and denialism laws look at it and find out what the American style free speechers want them to open themselves up for. Look behind the American founders fetish and the free speech slogans to see what they’re really selling you. There are better ways to protect free speech without protecting malignant liars than turning off your brains and letting things go to hell.

  21. #21 squirrelelite
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy,

    You stated (or asked) ” am I using too much of that ridicule that you guys think is the great protector of the truth?”

    No, Anthony.

    I am quite confident that most commenters on this blog do not consider ridicule per se to be the greatest protector of the truth. Freedom to state the truth and explain why it is the truth is the greatest protector of the truth. Ridicule can be a useful tactic, especially in coping with commenters who repeatedly refuse to answer direct questions. But, you cannot know the truth unless someone else is free to state it.

    You also stated, ” those things you had to write about Randi and climate change should give you a clue, there’s something wrong with your movement at a very fundamental level.”

    I disagree. The fact that skeptics were able to disagree openly with Randi when he made a foolish or ill-considered statement and that he responded to those disagreements by correcting his statement shows that the skeptical community is very healthy.

    You continue to advocate for placing limits on free speech, but have yet to explain clearly what rules you recommend for placing those limits. No one is asking you to write a complete draft of a bill to be introduced into Congress, but if you want to draw the line somewhere, you need to explain where you think we should draw the line and why.

    You have more or less stated that you think the government can do this, but George Orwell showed quite clearly where that can lead and you haven’t explained how to avoid Newspeak courtesy of the Ministry of Truth.

    You continue to assert a protective benefit for limiting free speech, but haven’t explained how that would really protect people in the cases you choose to mention like Germany, Rwanda, and Cambodia.

    On the other hand, I know of one clear case where refusing to accept free speech and attempting to squash it leads to massacre:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

  22. #22 Orac
    June 9, 2010

    As I thought. Anthony cannot show that I am mistaken when I point out some Holocaust deniers who do not advocate violence. As for Irving, he has on occasion voiced thinly veiled or even open contempt for the groups he feels that he has to give speeches too to hawk his books, as you would know if you had actually paid attention and studied Irving for several years. He thinks he’s a real historian, you see, and speaking to the neo-Nazi rabble is beneath him.

  23. #23 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    —- I am quite confident that most commenters on this blog do not consider ridicule per se to be the greatest protector of the truth. sqirrelite

    READ ORAC’S DAMNED POST! THE VERY END OF IT.

    James Randi’s history of fabrication and outright lying is a long and sorry record. Often in the form of “unnamed sources” with fantastic names. His climate denial is hardly his first violation of the truth. Not that his fellow “skeptics” have cared much about it until it impinges on something they happen to care about. But I really don’t want to get into that mess when a more important one is under consideration.

    Or, anyone who advocates Nazism is by the very stated foundations of Nazism and fascism is advocating violence. Violence and war are foundational “virtues” of both. It’s impossible to advocate those and not be advocating violence.

    I’m not an historian just someone who tries to know what the hell they’re talking about.

    orac, are you really proud of the level of denial of established fact that you’ve brought out into the open here? Denying Nazism’s own foundations, which the Nazis themselves have never hidden from before they took power. I don’t know what the world you think that’s going to lead to but it ain’t the truth and enlightenment.

  24. #24 Orac
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony

    How can you expect me to take you seriously when you spew straw men such as claiming that I’m denying the origins of Nazi-ism? That is not the argument. The argument is that suppressing speech, even Holocaust denial, is harmful to freedom–yes, even in Canada.

    One also even wonders if you know diddly squat about actual Holocaust deniers. You seem shockingly ignorant of their actual writings and speeches other than in vague, generic terms.

  25. #25 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    You still haven’t defined for us what criteria should be used, in your opinion, to define what speech should be banned, who should be allowed to make the decision of what fits those criteria, or how they should go about making that decision. Why so coy?

    I really don’t think this thread is going any new places that are any different from where it’s been. I could probably keep this up indefinitely but no one’s come up with any refutation that sticks.

    If you want the discussion to go somewhere, then stop using the same arguments over and over and perhaps actually answer some of the very basic questions asked, such as mine just above. You should also take off the hate blinders and actually objectively evaluate what people are saying. You are arguing from emotion, not reason (e.g., your position that all Holocaust deniers are advocates of mass murder, even if they don’t actively advocate mass murder).

    There is no rational reason that genocide denial and the advocacy for mass murder should be allowed.

    First off, you are conflating two different types of speech. Denying that the Holocaust happened and advocating mass murder are separate things. People might often do both, but they are not equivalent. Saying “The Holocaust never happened” is not the same as saying “All Jews should be killed.”

    Here’s a few more questions for you, to help clarify your position:

    1) What constitutes “advocating mass murder”? Would “I think the world would be a better place if group X weren’t here” count? What about “We should just kill every member of group X”? For that matter, what if someone just says “I don’t think genocide X ever happened”?
    2) Does the context matter? Would such comments said between two people in casual conversation be treated the same as a speech to an audience?
    3) How should such speech be punished? Are there different punishments depending on the type of comment (e.g., “world would be a better place” type vs. “kill ’em all!” type) and context (e.g., private conversation vs. public speech)?

    I really am curious about your answers to these questions, so please do not brush them off with an “I’m not a lawyer” nonsense. If you really hold the beliefs that you have been professing here, then you ought to also give thought to these questions and answer honestly.

    (Oh, and to second what someone said further up-thread, learn how to use the blockquote tags. That goes for others, too. Pretty please?)

  26. #26 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    —- I am quite confident that most commenters on this blog do not consider ridicule per se to be the greatest protector of the truth. sqirrelite

    READ ORAC’S DAMNED POST! THE VERY END OF IT.

    Umm, read the rest of squirrelelite’s comment and don’t just cherry-pick. Also, read the bit of Orac’s post where he mentions burying them with “refutation”.

    What Orac is saying, and correct me if I’m wrong, Orac, is, let them have their free speech, then tell them they are wrong, why they’re wrong (with accompanying mountains of evidence showing that they are, in fact, wrong), and, oh, by the way, “You’re an f-ing idiot” (though perhaps a bit more eloquently and satirically).

  27. #27 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    Orac, I’m sure that you’ll keep on with this but I’m not going to bother. I’m sure you and your fans will feel very good about yourselves and your positions.

    As to you taking me seriously, I never had that expectation from your first response to me. I can tell a set program that won’t be varied from as soon as it becomes apparent. It’s been mostly a waste of time except for those disturbing aspects that I set out in my last several comments. I hadn’t realized how bad the denial of reality among the “skeptics” really was.

  28. #28 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    You’re leaving? But I really was quite interested in your answers to my questions. I would have taken you seriously if you had bothered to answer them. As it is, though, your reluctance to answer challenging questions makes me think you are not much different than the very people you decry. I could be wrong, but you’re not exactly doing anything to show otherwise.

  29. #29 Orac
    June 9, 2010

    Anthony runs away from reasonable questions again. No surprise there.

    Actually, Todd, I have a better question for Anthony that is completely relevant to the question of banning Holocaust denial:

    What is Holocaust denial?

    Seriously. I’d love to see Anthony try to define it. It’s not as easy as he thinks.

  30. #30 Scott
    June 9, 2010

    I can tell a set program that won’t be varied from as soon as it becomes apparent.

    Project much?

  31. #31 Anthony McCarthy
    June 9, 2010

    Anthony runs away from reasonable questions again. No surprise there. Orac

    I told my brother not five minutes before I posted that last comment, “Orac is going to crow about me ‘running away’ even after a week of me answering his bunkum”.

    Just came back to hear
    the expected shoe dropping.
    Macho posturing.

  32. #32 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Orac

    Actually, Todd, I have a better question for Anthony that is completely relevant to the question of banning Holocaust denial:

    What is Holocaust denial?

    True, that would be much more on-topic to the original post than my questions. Pertinent to that is the question of what is Holocaust denial and what is academic questioning of the evidence? Fuzzy line, there.

  33. #33 Scott
    June 9, 2010

    I told my brother not five minutes before I posted that last comment, “Orac is going to crow about me ‘running away’ even after a week of me answering his bunkum”.

    Why do you lie to your family? You still haven’t answered anything! The most substantive argument you’ve produced was when you called us all Nazis.

  34. #34 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    Oh! You’re back! Perhaps there is hope, after all, that you might answer one of my basic questions. Or even Orac’s more on-topic question at post #229.

  35. #35 squirrelelite
    June 9, 2010

    Thanks, Todd.

    You beat me to the punch. I’ll have to make a project this summer to learn about HTML tags. Since I was a bit out of the loop in the 1990’s when HTML and the WWW were taking over the internet and my poor old 80486 computer and dial-up modem couldn’t adapt, I sort of missed out on those. But, I will take it on.

    Anthony,

    As Todd noted, orac’s post ends “with refutations and ridicule”. Since he mentioned refutations first, customary usage indicates that he considers them to be of greater importance.

    I could rephrase my comments as questions and address the assertions you made in comment 223, but until you give some direct answers to Todd’s quesitons in comment 225 and Orac’s question in 229, it’s not worth the effort to transform from “squirrelite” to Squirrel Heavy 🙂 !

    However, since you consider yourself “someone who tries to know what the hell they’re talking about”, I will add one question.

    What is the most interesting and informative book you have read recently about Nazism/fascism and Holocaust denial?

  36. #36 closetpuritan
    June 9, 2010

    Matthew: Gay Rights historically has been attacked as immoral, reprehensible, and worthy of censorship in the US.

    Anthony McCarthy: You obviously aren’t familiar with the long and at times disturbing treatment of homosexuality by “science”.

    McCarthy: Are you trying to argue that if “science” is homophobic, the people in general can’t simultaneously be homophobic? All the “scientific” support of homophobia just shows how widespread the support for homophobia was–it’s evidence that strengthens Matthew’s point, not yours.

    closetpuritan: What IS unprecedented is punishing people for making claims that the government has decided are false.

    Anthony McCarthy: Courts have been punishing people for making false claims since the beginning of courts. So “unprecedented”? Not in any way.

    OK, fine, I was imprecise: courts at least as far back as the Middle Ages could prosecute you for heresy and such. (I’m not in favor of bringing that back.) Prosecuting people for making making historical/political claims, since the founding of the U.S., is unprecedented.

    You can’t seem to make up your mind about whether you’re leaving or not, but if we’re delivering our closing arguments, I’ll just quote skeptifem above: “I cannot believe people really need it explained that letting the state decide history for everyone is a really shitty idea.”

  37. #37 amit
    June 9, 2010

    Anthony, from the perspective of someone who hasn’t taken part in this debate yet you are coming across as incoherent.

    I’m going to quote below an exchange between you and Matthew:

    Anthony:

    Your free speech absolutism is probably the greatest boon for anti-gay invective in the English speaking world, today.

    Matthew:

    This is stunningly idiotic. I’m sorry, I realize plain insults are not productive but this is just beyond the pale.

    Gay Rights historically has been attacked as immoral, reprehensible, and worthy of censorship in the US. Free speech, in the face of a hostile majority, has allowed progress to be made.

    You think that giving the government censorship powers will mean the homophobic loons are the ones who get suppressed? I don’t share your optimism. Eight years of Republican Governance demonstrates these people are not powerless fringe elements.

    Anthony again:

    You obviously aren’t familiar with the long and at times disturbing treatment of homosexuality by “science”. One of the foremost voices in the US promoting “recovery” is a psychologist who happens to be an atheist. And plenty of the folks who liked to hook us up to electric shocks and inject us with hormones and any number of other “scientific” tortures have been quite secular.

    How does your final quote in any way refute Matthew’s point or relate to it in any way?

    Matthew says that as a gay man you should be afraid of weakening the 1st amendment given the the large number of people who would happily censor the gay rights movement given the chance. Your response is to say something off topic about how atheist scientists attack gay people too. Nobody brought religion into this line of argument until you did – it was a total red herring.

  38. #38 Composer99
    June 9, 2010

    Anthony,

    Since you saw fit to bring up Phelps, I should point out that for all the vileness of his picketing funerals, etc., he has ironically served to increase acceptance of homosexuality in the US (or at least, in Kansas):

    http://dangardner.ca/Colfeb1508.html

  39. #39 Scott
    June 9, 2010

    As a native Kansan, I must admit to quite a bit of embarrassment that our two most widely known exports are Phelps and news stories about creationist school boards.

  40. #40 Todd W.
    June 9, 2010

    @Scott

    You also exported Dorothy and Toto, don’t forget. Though I think y’all may have gone a bit too far with that one.

  41. #41 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 9, 2010

    James Randi’s history of fabrication and outright lying is a long and sorry record. Often in the form of “unnamed sources” with fantastic names.

    Now I know you’re a dickhead, McCarthy.

  42. #42 Natalie
    June 9, 2010

    closetpuritan @ 237:

    Prosecuting people for making making historical/political claims, since the founding of the U.S., is unprecedented.

    Sadly, this isn’t entirely true. Anti-war activists were prosecuted during World War I, and while it wasn’t prosecution in the strict sense, we’re all familiar with McCartheyism. It should be noted that those forms of legal harassment were done under the guise of “national security”.

    Perhaps Anthony should read up on the harassment of homosexuals during the mercifully brief McCarthey era.

  43. #43 Orac
    June 9, 2010

    Sadly, this isn’t entirely true.

    Sadly, it’s not even close to being true that prosecuting people for making political or historical claims is unprecedented. It’s a sadly recurring theme throughout U.S. history, beginning with the Alien Sedition Acts of 1798. Luther Baldwin, for instance, was indicted and convicted of “seditious speech” for making a comment about then President Adams. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_and_Sedition_Acts):

    While the Alien and Sedition Laws were in force, John Adams, en route from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Quincy, Massachusetts, stopped in Newark, New Jersey, where he was greeted by a crowd and by a committee that saluted him by firing a cannon. A bystander said, “There goes the President and they are firing at his ass.” Luther Baldwin was indicted for replying that he did not care “if they fired through his a**.” He was convicted in the federal court for speaking “sedicious words tending to defame the President and Government of the United States” and fined, assessed court costs and expenses, and placed in jail until the fine and fees were paid.

    The act expired and was never tested in court, but subsequent Supreme Court rulings that mention the act assume that it would have been found unconstitutional had it ever been challenged. One can only imagine how much more the government would have indulged the natural impulse of governments everywhere to suppress critical speech had it not been for the existence of the First Amendment.

  44. #44 Anthony McCarthy
    June 10, 2010

    Now I know you’re a dickhead, McCarthy. T. Bruce McNeely

    A friend told me about this. I’ve been writing a prospective obit. Here are the second and third paragraphs.

    Putting his “scientific achievements” aside, Randi’s profession was as a magician. But his intellectual vocation was as an escape artist. The guy always had an out, sometimes quite blatantly dishonest, as in his phony million dollar challenge – several reputable witnesses have said that Randi gloried in “always having an out” on that one — sometimes, as in his infamous and possibly illegal phone sex tape episode*, weird and kooky.

    The guy was sleazy and rinky dink. You didn’t need a psychic to predict that he’d go over big in the dishonest, mean-spirited frat house of organized “skepticism”. The critical thinkers of “skepticism” almost invariably have a blind spot for their own heroes, whose fictional repute will be protected no matter what the evidence shows, no matter how well established the record is, no matter what those over-hyped and hypocritical hierophants are on record as having done and said. Not all mean little boys grow up, some of them become “sceptics”.

  45. #45 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 10, 2010

    Just as I thought, McCarthy. You have nothing.

  46. #46 squirrelelite
    June 11, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy,

    Since you ignored most of my comment(s), I should probably just ignore yours, but I will try once more.

    Todd W had three questions which I will summarize:

    1. What constitues advocating mass murder?
    2. Does context matter?
    3. How to punish it?

    And, Orac added his own:
    4. What is Holocaust denial?

    And, I added one request:

    5. Name an informative book about Holocaust denial.

    Thanks for taking a break from writing that “prospective obit” to answer. Let’s see how you did.

    1. No Answer
    2. No Answer
    3. No Answer
    4. No Answer
    5. No Answer

    Instead, you continue attacking James Randi for being a stage magician. And, you mention “reputable witnesses” or was that “unnamed sources” to discount the lack of a successful challenge to claim the JREF prize. At least, James Randi gave some of his sources names however fantastic.

    There are many people involved in the skeptical movement, and since it primarily involves the use of the scientific method to test, evaluate and prove or disprove unusual claims, I perhaps play a small role in it as well. Only a few of those people, though, are magicians.

    Having read one of Randi’s books a few years ago, I think his background as a stage magician gives him special expertise in looking for cases where people use the techniques of stage magic to perform tricks and convince other people that they have paranormal abilities.

    I have some quibbles with his writing style, but I found it to be an enjoyable read.

    Since the people attempting to claim the JREF prize do so under conditions they have negotiated and agreed to beforehand, their complaints afterward sound mostly like sour grapes.

    Do you have something more than sour grapes to contribute to this discussion?

  47. #47 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    No, squirrilite, I have no intention of going round in circles with the orac posse on the topic of this thread. It’s futile. Just about everything I said here has been twisted and distorted from orac’s first response to me and then had my answers twisted and distorted. I’m going to be concentrating on the evidence of the link between his form of “skepticism” and things like Holocaust denial and climate change denial. Between what he has done here to defend lies told on behalf of industrial scale mass murderers and Randi’s recent pronouncements that are so bad even orac had to distance himself — not that McNeely seems to have noticed –, that evidence leads to there being a connection.

    The level of dishonesty I’ve experienced in this discussion, with all of the typical “skeptical” habits featured, the say anything to win tactics, the macho posturing by pathetic boys, mostly, around one of the most serious and ongoing problems caused by lies, leads me to believe that his kind of “skepticism” is a big part of the problem. It isn’t skepticism but a series of dishonest dodges and pathetic PR tactics. And the problem impinges on a lot of the most important issues putting our planet and us at risk.

    Only, I’m going to continue it elsewhere and using names instead of his pseudonym. If he wants to crap away his reputation that could have been useful in his honest advocacy, he doesn’t deserve that courtesy anymore.

    I won’t be continuing to read him on other topics as I used to because I don’t trust people who do what he’s done here. There are other people who honestly advocate science-based medical issues without the obnoxious and dishonest agenda and without the obnoxious and dishonest posse. As far as I’m concerned he has discredited himself.

  48. #48 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    Anthony, I’m going to ask you again: What is Holocaust denial? Define it operationally. How do we recognize it and how is it different from real Holocaust revisionism?

    If you can’t even define Holocaust denial, you can’t write a law that will target it with any degree of specificity whatsoever.

  49. #49 Todd W.
    June 11, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    as in his phony million dollar challenge

    Y’know. If you actually had proof of this, it would be grounds for charges of fraud against Mr. Randi. My guess is that your “proof” consists of what you’ve read on anti-Randi sites, though, and that you have nothing material to bring to the table.

    Only, I’m going to continue it elsewhere and using names instead of his pseudonym.

    You’re going to out Orac? Wow. That’s never been done before! You are truly a unique and enterprising individual. I am sure that Orac is shaking in his boots.

    Now, how about answering our pretty basic questions, rather than the childish ranting and name-calling? Oh, and I would appreciate if you point out where I have displayed “dishonesty” or “say anything to win tactics”. Thanks!

  50. #50 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Todd, orac was outed ages ago by the anti-vacc people. I use his pseudonym here out of courtesy on his own blog and because I didn’t want to associated with them. When I’m writing on topics unrelated to that and in my own space, I’ll feel free to use his real name.

    Orac, you think you could draft a new law on the licensing of vaccines? I know you figure you’re superman but I don’t think you’re pretending you’re a lawyer yet. Even legislators consult the lawyers on that.

    You want to provide an irrefutable and uncontroversial definition for every term you use in one of your posts? I’ve been down that road on many, many issues, it’s a cul de sac and, in something like the topic of this thread, a tactic of dishonest argument.

    If you think it’s impossible to define Holocaust denial in order to have ideas about it, how the hell did you come up with posts about climate change denial? You want every political and legal decision about that crisis to depend on that game of definition? Of course not, since it’s you who is doing the writing.

    Feel free to provide me with new insights into your habits anytime. Though I think from now on I’ll collect them without getting involved in your ego salvage operation.

  51. #51 Scottynuke
    June 11, 2010

    Wow, talk about stonewalling…

    *waiting to see if anyonw saw what I did there*

  52. #52 Scottynuke
    June 11, 2010

    Saw what I did, apart from misspelling “anyone,” I mean…

  53. #53 squirrelelite
    June 11, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy,

    I have often found that being willing to at least attempt to give a direct answer to a direct question is a necessary prelude to an interesting and productive conversation. Your lack of answers to our questions shows how much interest you have in that.

    Good luck in looking for “evidence of the link between his form of “skepticism” and things like Holocaust denial and climate change denial”. You might try getting a good book on divination and reading the chapter on interpreting tea leaves. 🙂

    Since you think it useful to be ” using names instead of his pseudonym”, I find it curious that I haven’t seen you commenting on his “friend”‘s blog. Perhaps they simply didn’t address your favorite topic.

    Perhaps some day we shall achieve the same ” level of dishonesty” and can have a pleasant conversation.

    In the mean time, to paraphrase Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of CasselFelstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia slightly,

    ” Is it not a pity that you were not on my level?”

  54. #54 Todd W.
    June 11, 2010

    Shorter Anthony McCarthy: I don’t have a good definition that would not be able to be abused.

    I find it interesting, though not particularly surprising, that rather than addressing the meat of my comment, Anthony focuses on my snark.

  55. #55 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 11, 2010

    Even shorter Anthony McCarthy:

    Nothing.

  56. #56 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    Mr. McCarthy’s “threat” to “out” me reminds me of similar threats I’ve put up with for the last five years. For instance:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/02/andreas_moritz_legal_intimidation_in_the.php

    One would hope that Mr. McCarthy doesn’t decide to be emulate J.B. Handley or another crank who has “outed” me, Patrick “Tim” Bolen. Consequently, when Mr. McCarthy says he doesn’t want to be associated with the antivax people, he should know that threats to out me already associate him with antivax people and cranks of all sorts, such as Tim Bolen. In fact, his threat even associates him with the very Holocaust deniers that he despises, because I’ve gotten threats to be outed from Holocaust deniers for at least ten years. Back around 1999 or 2000 one Holocaust denier even put me on a list of “pedophiles” circulated through the Internet with others who combat online Holocaust denial.

    In fact, the only threats to “out” me that I’ve ever received have come exclusively from cranks: Antivax cranks like J.B. Handley, Holocaust denier cranks, creationist cranks like DaveScot, alt-med cranks, HIV/AIDS denialist cranks, and–yes, this is true–animal rights terrorists like Camille Marino. Indeed, the only people who have ever threatened to “out” me have been pseudoscientists and cranks.

    Does Mr. McCarthy really want to place himself in such company?

    The issue of “outing” aside, I find Mr. McCarthy’s refusal to answer a simple question (“How do you,/em> define Holocaust denial?) to be quite illuminating. Apparently Mr. McCarthy knows it when he sees it but just can’t put into words what it is. The problem is, for any law to suppress Holocaust denial to work, a legal definition of Holocaust denial is absolutely necessary. Mr. McCarthy uses the straw man claim that I am demanding that he supply me with a bullet-proof legal definition of Holocaust denial. I am not. I was simply curious given the vehemence of his insistence that banning Holocaust denial is not an infringement on free speech and, more than that, that it was a supreme good for society. So I asked him how he would define Holocaust denial. He can’t or won’t even do that.

    I wonder why.

    In contrast, I can. Reasonable people may disagree with my definition, but I can define Holocaust denial to my satisfaction. So to hide his inability even to attempt to define what he would ban, Mr. McCarthy trots out challenges to me to write laws licensing vaccines. Diversion noted and rejected. The topic of this thread is Holocaust denial and whether banning it is an infringement on freedom of speech. Mr. McCarthy insists that it’s a good thing for governments to ban Holocaust denial, that it’s not a problem with infringing free speech at all. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to bother him in the least that he can’t define Holocaust denial. Apparently he completely trusts governments to do so. It also doesn’t appear to bother him at all that Holocaust denial is a continuum, not a black and white, easily compartmentalizable thing. There are gray areas. Mr. McCarthy recognizes no gray areas and apparently has no trouble letting the government draw the line somewhere in the gray, so that he doesn’t have to think about it.

  57. #57 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    How many times can you be outed, orac? I’ve got nearly a half a century with the issue of being outed, from before the term “outed” was in use. Once your name is out there on the web, old bean, it’s out there. You’ve written about it yourself, under your own name, or so I seem to recall.

    You want to talk about unsavory associations, look at some of the stuff you said in this thread. Ernst Zundel, for the love of Mike.

    You’re a thin-skinned hatchet man, aren’t you.

  58. #58 Todd W.
    June 11, 2010

    dodge dodge dodge dodge
    dodge dodge dodge dodge
    dodgedy dooooodge
    dodgey dodge

    Anthony, when are you going to stop focusing on the person asking the question and instead focus on the question being asked?

  59. #59 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    You want to talk about unsavory associations, look at some of the stuff you said in this thread. Ernst Zundel, for the love of Mike.

    What, that I find Ernst Zundel and his ilk to be odious, despicable liars because they’re Holocaust deniers, but I believe they have a right to free speech? That I have never seen David Irving or a few other Holocaust deniers that I named actually advocate violence?

    Truly, you’ve never heard the famous phrase, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That sums it up to me for Holocaust deniers, except that I’d phrase it, “I hate what Holocaust deniers say. I find it odious, racist, and hateful. But I will defend their right to say it.”

    That’s hardly “associating” myself with Ernst Zundel, and, given my history since the 1990s of combatting Holocaust denial on Usenet, if you claim that I have ever in any way endorsed what Holocaust deniers say you will be lying. Apparently to you, defending an enemy’s right to free speech means I agree with that enemy. It does not.

  60. #60 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    Anthony, when are you going to stop focusing on the person asking the question and instead focus on the question being asked?

    He won’t.

    Instead, apparently, he’ll try to claim that because I advocate free speech, even for Holocaust deniers, that I must agree with them or that I’ve somehow linked myself with them. If he does that, as I said above, he’ll be lying.

  61. #61 Todd W.
    June 11, 2010

    @Orac

    he’ll try to claim that because I advocate free speech, even for Holocaust deniers, that I must agree with them or that I’ve somehow linked myself with them.

    Well, he already did espouse a “If you’re not with me, you’re against me” mindset pretty early in the thread.

  62. #62 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    He sounds a lot like George W. Bush in that, yes.

  63. #63 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Well, orac, I never pretended that anti-vacc folks had anything but the intentions they obviously had in order to make a dishonest substitute for a refutation in an argument with you.

    Holocaust denial is all about dishonest presentation of motives as well as lies about history, and then the dishonest denial that their neo-Nazi promotion is what it’s really all about. To then have denial that those aren’t their known MO by an anti-denialist is beyond tolerance by people who care about intellectual honesty. Considering the subject matter is mass murder. I might overlook the crazy straw reasoning you guys have on a less serious issue but the issue makes this different.

    I really hope that people in Europe, Canada and other places don’t get conned by the American free speech absolutists who have nothing better than infantile paranoia, the mental illness of libertarians, behind their denial of reality and responsible action.

  64. #64 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 11, 2010

    Here is what Orac has posted about Ernst Zundel:

    Also, Ernst Zundel, as far as I know doesn’t advocate mass murder

    As for Ernst Zundel, you’ve posted nothing that demonstrates he advocates mass murder.

    OH MY GAWD HOW AWFUL. He’s making TRUE STATEMENTS!!!

    I can see why that might upset you, you tool.

  65. #65 Todd W.
    June 11, 2010

    @Anthony McCarthy

    To save you the trouble of having to scroll back through the comments, here are the questions I asked that you have yet to answer:

    1) What constitutes “advocating mass murder”? Would “I think the world would be a better place if group X weren’t here” count? What about “We should just kill every member of group X”? For that matter, what if someone just says “I don’t think genocide X ever happened”?
    2) Does the context matter? Would such comments said between two people in casual conversation be treated the same as a speech to an audience?
    3) How should such speech be punished? Are there different punishments depending on the type of comment (e.g., “world would be a better place” type vs. “kill ’em all!” type) and context (e.g., private conversation vs. public speech)?

    Just start with those, and Orac’s about how to define “Holocaust denial”. Once you’ve answered that, then we can address your, ahem, less than truthful claims about other people.

  66. #66 Scott
    June 11, 2010

    To then have denial that those aren’t their known MO by an anti-denialist is beyond tolerance by people who care about intellectual honesty.

    Claims that anyone here is denying that those aren’t their known MO are flat-out lies and beyond tolerance by anyone with a single working neuron.

    In other words, it’s truly rich that you can talk about intellectual honesty while lying, calling anyone who disagrees with you a Nazi, and refusing to answer even the simplest and most reasonable of questions critical to any discussion.

  67. #67 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    Considering the subject matter is mass murder.

    Really? Holocaust denial is mass murder?

    Let’s get back to my question. Educate me: What is Holocaust denial? Please define it. Or am I to take your statement to mean that you really believe that Holocaust denial is mass murder?

  68. #68 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?

  69. #69 Scott
    June 11, 2010

    Quite a lot of people do, actually. Such discussion is actually promoted by Turkish attempts to suppress it.

  70. #70 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Not when Hitler said that. I guess google translate doesn’t do it all.

    I guess it would be ethical to tell you, it’s all research for me now.

  71. #71 Orac
    June 11, 2010

    How do you know I haven’t been using you for research in this comment thread? Your astounding statements here provide plenty of potential fodder for a followup blog post.

  72. #72 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Orac, what you do on your blog isn’t my responsibility. I will note anything you say about what I said and check it for accuracy and honesty, not leaving that to chance here any longer.

    Just try and get something I said accurate though. As you began here by misrepresenting what I said it might be nice to recognize something I’d actually said instead of what you’d like for me to have said.

  73. #73 Bronze Dog
    June 11, 2010

    Oh, fun. Anthony threatened to out Orac and complained about the use of pseudonyms.

    Yeah, because you don’t know the name on someone’s birth certificate, you can’t know whether or not he is a divinely appointed priest known as an Authority. Truth is completely subjective because it’s changed when an Authority declares it changed. There is no objective truth or logic to anything because ad hominem and argument from Authority fallacies are the real basis of reality.

    Anthony, try paying attention to what you say. That’s how you came across with that “threat”: You essentially declared the bankruptcy of your position.

  74. #74 Chance Gearheart, NREMT-P/EMD
    June 11, 2010

    RE: Anthony McCarthy

    I’ve lurked on this thread and stayed idle for over a week now, resisting my urge to comment on your ideas. You do bring up some very good points: Holocaust Denial is abhorrant – it takes the right of free speech in a civilized country and uses it to promote the most offensive of ideals – and it denies a historic event which costs the lives of not only those of ethnic Jewish descent, but also those of multiple Europen and Middle Eastern countries, multiple religions, and cost some of Academia’s brightest at the time their lives. That fact should never be minimized by the official record, nor should anything to the countrary ever be promoted by an official engaged in the governance of any country in the free world without some form of disciplinary action. However, to legally restrict discussion of crackpot theories of anything, be it the holocaust or (American, now) the 9/11 attacks not only gives those theories credibility in the minds of their believers, but also (Historically), leads to a slippery slope in which it is easier to gradually restrict more and more forms of dissent. While these people infuriate, disrespect, and inflame emotions and disbelief at their callous ignoring of overwhelming documented evidence, they do have a basic human right to say what they like as long as they do no physical harm, or advocate violence against, the group they are arguing against.

    Hundreds of thousands in the course of history have died defending the right of people to say things which offend others – and every now and then that offense by the minority will cause a change for the better.

    The restriction already exists in the rights of groups and individuals to sue for restitution in terms of libel and slander, and for groups to persue legal action against persons advocating or inciting violence against specific ethnic groups or religions. In addition, laws in America protect these groups against discrimination.

    Restricting their crap does nothing to stop it. It’s done nothing to stop it in Germany, expecially with the East having a higher population of holocaust denyers and general neo-nazis – it’s just pushed them underground and onto the internet (Don’t worry, Comrads, you were just following orders like good little communists). Ignoring and ridiculing them and their ilk works a lot better.

  75. #75 Anthony McCarthy
    June 11, 2010

    Bronze Dog, since orac has posted about his being outed by the anti-vacc folks UNDER HIS OWN NAME I can’t out him, he’s been out for ages. Orac is out, he is definitively out, he’s an ex-innie, he’s a late anon. Geesh, straight guys. Once you’re out on-line boys, you’re out, as out as Andrew Sullivan’s sex ad was when it was revealed, as out as Randi was once that tape hit the court room, especially if you talk about it yourself.

    Why he’s keeping up a ruse that was over ages ago is his business, there’s no reason anyone else needs to keep it up elsewhere. Given some of the things he and his posse have said about his opponents using their names, I don’t see anything unfair about using his already out there name. I wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t already known.

    Chance Gearheart, I’m not going to address that issue here anymore. I will be writing on it in the future, some of the things I’ve learned in this discussion will figure in it. I don’t conclude the same things you do.

  76. #76 Matthew
    June 12, 2010

    Chance,

    Earlier in this conversation, I wondered if McCarthy was a Poe. I realize it’s not correct to call him that, my fault for getting confused on the definition, but what I meant was that I wondered if he was being sincere in his arguments, or was he just stirring things up?

    Well, I took a look at some of the links to his other writing and I don’t believe he’s trolling.

    Feel free to look yourself, but my conclusion is that he embraces censorship. Not just of holocaust denial, but of a broad range of subjects. His criteria is that if speech causes harm to someone, we can ban it. Who could disagree with that, right?

    However, like a lot of pro-censorship people I’ve met, he doesn’t concern himself with messy details like defining his terms, weighing evidence, or even remaining consistent in his arguments.

    Take harm; did a particular bit of speech actually cause the harm he attributes to it? His writing barely touches upon available facts. He merely asserts that such-and-such did what he claims and that’s quite good enough.

    Or “We”. He’s confident “We” can discern between worthwhile and harmful speech, but becomes flustered when others don’t agree with his opinions. “We” can easily judge right from wrong but “They” just don’t get it.

    His entire view of censorship is easily summarized; When Anthony McCarthy is King of the World, this is what he’ll do. Um, ok, fine, but the bizarre part is that he seems to feel this is compelling reasoning.

    In short, he may be an intelligent person, but his arguments are moronic.

    Don’t take my word for it, you can it read for yourself.

  77. #77 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    Matthew, I am gratified to see you bothering to read what I wrote.

    You did, however, miss the larger point, that the Supreme Court is using the idea of “free speech” mixed with corporate person hood to destroy self-government by an informed electorate. Even as we were squabbling over whether or not I was going to give into your tactic of getting bogged down in playing lawyer, they were destroying laws to try to make elections more honest in Arizona and other states that are trying to clean up that deadly and metastasizing tumor on our country, the less benign product of free speech absolutism.

    Though, in my experience, the absolutists aren’t much concerned with the actual results of their positions, as seen in who files amicus briefs in those cases, they positively encourage the corporate handover in the name of “free speech”. I really don’t think that being able to talk dirty or to advocate mass murder is a good trade off, though.

    I’ve never called for banning anything other than on the basis of a demonstrated violent effect. Though I am ever more convinced that all lying could be suppressed with absolutely no harm within a democratic government. Ridicule has such a pathetically bad record of protecting democracy. Or have you noticed that the fascists are quite able to come up with ridicule to match it?

  78. #78 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    If I’m a Poe you’re a Lowell. And Poe was, by far, the better poet.

  79. #79 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    he doesn’t concern himself with messy details like defining his terms, Matthew

    See what I asked orac about whether or not he wants to get into that game over every term he uses. Not that he answered that anymore than any of you guys wanted to touch my questions about Israel lifting their ban on Holocaust denial and the denial of crimes against humanity and neo-Nazis, or even whether or not he opposes people giving expert testimony in court.

    weighing evidence, Matthew

    Like the fact that the Rwandan genocide, the various genocides in the Balkans and the Holocaust itself were the results of malignant speech that all the “more speech” and that ridicule that orac’s faith resides in didn’t prevent? I’d really like a list of the places where you guys figure ridicule prevented bloodshed. From what I’ve seen, it’s more likely to lead to it. Go into a rough bar and throw a bit of ridicule onto an argument and see what happens, Matthew.

    or even remaining consistent in his arguments. Matthew

    Again, see my attempts to get orac on record over expert testimony and opening up Israel and the Balkans to Phelps style free speech demos as PR opportunities.

  80. #80 Orac
    June 12, 2010

    See what I asked orac about whether or not he wants to get into that game over every term he uses.

    You first: Define Holocaust denial, since we all want to know what, exactly, you believe it to be that you propose banning.

  81. #81 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    OK, orac, how about we kick this one around a while.

    Denial of Holocaust (Prohibition) Law, 5746-1986

    Definitions 1. In this Law, “crime against the Jewish people” and “crime against humanity” have the same respective meanings as in the “Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law, 5710-1950.

    Prohibition of Denial of Holocaust 2. A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement denying or diminishing the proportions of acts committed in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, with intent to defend the perpetrators of those acts or to express sympathy or identification with them, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

    Prohibition of publication of expression for sympathy for Nazi crimes 3. A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement expressing praise or sympathy for or identification with acts done in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

    Permitted publication 4. The publication of a correct and fair report of a publication prohibited by this Law shall not be regarded as an offence thereunder so long as it is not made with intent to express sympathy or identification with the perpetrators of crimes against the Jewish people or against humanity.

    Filing of charge 5. An indictment for offences under this Law shall only be filed by or with the consent of the Attorney-General.[29]

    There, tear the Israeli law apart and we can discuss what will result.

  82. #82 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    I will have to warn you, orac, if you want to continue this, that I’m on a friend’s dial-up and it’s getting too long. I was going to sign off because I’ve got other things to do, with this new game it could go on for weeks. If you want to keep it up you’re going to have to put up a new thread soon.

  83. #83 squirrelelite
    June 12, 2010

    For some weird reason, this cartoon reminded me of this thread.

    http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2010/06/10/

  84. #84 Composer99
    June 12, 2010

    Anthony McCarthy @ 279:

    Like the fact that the Rwandan genocide, the various genocides in the Balkans and the Holocaust itself were the results of malignant speech that all the “more speech” and that ridicule that orac’s faith resides in didn’t prevent?

    An over-simplification, if not an outright false statement. Mass murders and genocides are the results of policy and of action. Most importantly, they occured in the context of war and of breakdown of civil society.

    There was plenty of malignant speech about Jews in Germany for 5-6 decades before the Holocaust – but no genocide until the Second World War. Malignant speech may have helped assuage ordinary Germans’ consciences about the deed, but it took the invasion of the USSR (with its concomitant, no-holds barred savagery) to really get the slaughter going.

    There was plenty of Hutu-Tutsi violence in Rwanda and the surrounding region for decades before the 1990’s genocide. Any malignant speech in the ’90s was probably a reflection of that violence more than some novel phenomenon presaging genocide (indeed, the slaughter was meticulously organized, as the Wikipedia article, whose source is Human Rights Watch, points out – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide).

    By contrast, there was not much in the way of widespread malignant speech in the Balkans in the years immediately before the collapse of Yugoslavia. People pointed afterwards to old grudges from the Second World War or earlier, but some post hoc reasoning was probably at work by then.

    Finally, I should point out that in all three cases there was a decided lack of countering speech. Unlike Holocaust denial today, which is quickly and roundly condemned when it appears publicly.

  85. #85 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    If nothing else, I suspect that I’ve been giving Wiki and google some extra work here.

    Composer99, I’m not getting into that while I’m waiting with baited breath for orac’s evisceration of the Israeli ban on Holocaust denial and the logical conclusions that can be drawn from its obliteration.

    What kind of music?

  86. #86 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 12, 2010

    I hate to feed the troll, but here goes:

    In at least 3 recent genocides (Nazi Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda), the mass murders were actively promoted by the government in power, with the assistance of pro-government press and radio. Opposition was ruthlessly suppressed by the government.

    Do you want to tell me again how government regulation of speech prevents genocide?

  87. #87 Gary Carson
    June 12, 2010

    Let’s get it straight what Weisel is advocating here.

    He’s talking about European and Canadian-style hate speech laws. Under these laws, people are sentenced to prison for years for things like “holocaust denial,” “slandering the memory of the dead” and offending various protected minority groups.

    Right now, people are sitting in prisons in Europe and Canada for saying or writing things that “human rights champions” like Weisel don’t want to hear. They were sentenced to years in prison for IDEAS–for THINKING the wrong things and daring to write about them or saying them out loud.

    Never mind holocaust denial. The question is whether you really want to introduce laws like this in the United States because there’s no mystery about what would happen.

    The courts that hear these cases are the worst kind of Soviet-style tribunals. Defendants can be charged for things they said or wrote YEARS BEFORE in different countries BEFORE these laws were even passed. Hauled before these star chambers, charged under ideologically-based ex post facto laws that violate every principle of justice we believe in, they aren’t even allowed to present evidence to defend their positions.

    Truth is no defense in cases like this. There have been cases where defense lawyers have been charged and sentenced to prison for trying to defend their clients. The minute hate speech laws of any kind are passed in the United States, free speech will come to an end. Literally. Some speech will be prohibited, some “permitted” by our masters. We will be living in a Soviet People’s Republic and that’s no exaggeration.

    We aren’t talking about yelling fire in a crowded theater here. We are talking about a fundamental change in the basic assumptions of our legal system. We are talking about ideological witchhunts, book burning, the stifling of dissent. Canada, for instance, confiscates prohibited books at the border and customs agents BURN them. Thought criminals of all types are arrested and frequently spend years in solitary confinement waiting for show trials where the verdict is never in doubt.

    Hate speech laws are evil and what Weisel tends to forget is that once you establish the precedent of charging people with thought crimes, these same laws could be turned against him or anyone else under different circumstances.

  88. #88 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    McKneely, are you suggesting that the Nazi and Khmer Rouge governments were democracies? Or that Rwanda had a functioning democracy when the genocide was sparked by radio broadcasts?

    Turn off your brains, don’t make distinctions that are among the clearest possible. Brilliant way to proceed, fellows.

    If I’m a troll, how come orac seems to want to engage me? Huh?

    I told him all he has to do is ask me to leave and I’d never bother coming back. I indicated I wanted to at least three times in this thread and HE keeps trying to egg me back. And, as you seem to not realize, it is his blog.

    So, Gary Carson. You DO really think that Israel should let neo-Nazis do things like turn the funerals of the last few surviving Holocaust victims into Phelps style Holocaust denial spectacles, something that I’m sure would be allowed here under the reigning free speech absolutism. There’s nothing to keep them from doing crap like that here and now. And I would like an answer to that question. How about at Yad Vashem? After the last survivor is gone?

    And I’ll throw that question open to all of you guys, which one of you thinks that Israel should let neo-Nazis do that because it would be wrong to block the Nazis’ “free speech-free expression”? Answer it or remain hypocrites.

  89. #89 Gary Carson
    June 12, 2010

    “You DO really think that Israel should let neo-Nazis do things like turn the funerals of the last few surviving Holocaust victims into Phelps style Holocaust denial spectacles, something that I’m sure would be allowed here under the reigning free speech absolutism. There’s nothing to keep them from doing crap like that here and now.”

    That’s right. There’s nothing to keep them from doing it.

    This is called a state of freedom and I’m not all that eager to throw it away.

    As for Israel, they can pass whatever laws they want. I’m talking about the United States. This isn’t some abstract discussion. I’ve read about how these courts operate in Europe and Canada and they’re an abomination.

    My point has nothing to do with holocaust denial or any other specific “speech crime.” I’m talking about the kind of legal apparatus that would come into existence if laws like this were passed. There’s no need to speculate about what they would be like because they’ve been in existence in Europe and Canada for years and there’s no reason to think they would operate any differently here in the United States.

    As for the Phelps-style spectacles, go ahead and ban them, but keep it in mind that things change. Once you set those precedents, other people with different opinions may get control of the legal apparatus and turn those same laws against YOU.

    Look at what could happen if you permit this kind of social engineering to be established into law. One administration bans Phelps, then the next administration decides to ban pro-abortion demonstrations. Then the next administration decides to ban speech critical of the government, using the same laws. The next thing you know, Congress is passing laws making it a hate crime to criticize British Petroleum or one of their other big corporate contributors.

    People talk as if we have unlimited freedom right now, but it’s being eroded every day. The government already has too much control over our lives and the last thing we need are hate-speech tribunals.

  90. #90 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 12, 2010

    Whoops, there goes another goalpost! Now we’re talking democracies only. When did that happen?

    But then, democracies have never acted in an oppressive manner.
    Gary Carson is exaggerating about Canada, at least. There’s no one imprisoned in Canada for Denial. The only holocaust denier I know of who served time in Canada for this offense was Zundel, who now lives in Germany. I have no use for this piece of shit, but I think his prosecution only boosted his influence and reputation. His conviction, incidentally, was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada for constitutional reasons.
    Canada Customs seems to have a mind of its own. It really loves to pick on Gay and Lesbian bookstores, routinely stopping shipments of books to these stores and laying obscenity charges. Its reach has recently been cut back but not stopped altogether. No one has gone to jail for this.

    So, not as bad as Gary Carson says, but still potentially oppressive. This behavior is limited by those evil constitutional rights that are going to send us to the gas chambers, right?

  91. #91 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    — As for Israel, they can pass whatever laws they want. I’m talking about the United States. This isn’t some abstract discussion. I’ve read about how these courts operate in Europe and Canada and they’re an abomination. Gary Carson

    But you’re upholding a ban on Holocaust denial somewhere in the world. That makes you just as bad as me, I’d have thought. And later on you seem to indicate banning the Phelps style hate speech is all right with you too.

    Your pronouncements are oddly out of sync. Israel can pass whatever laws it wants because you’re “talking about the United States”, but Europe and Canada, not parts of the United States fall under your judgment in a way you don’t want to subject Israel to. I thought rights were inherent and universal. How can you make that distinction?

    How about the funerals of Holocaust victims in the United States? Are neo-Nazi demonstrations at those just fine and dandy because it’s here and not there? How about gay weddings, how about public schools? Are they candidates for neo-Nazi demonstrations?

    —- My point has nothing to do with holocaust denial or any other specific “speech crime.” Gary Carson

    Well, that’s the topic of the post and the discussion. It’s gotten pulled all over the place but I’ve tried to avoid discussing things I couldn’t see a connection with, except in so far as the owner of the blog has brought them up. That’s been my intention, I hope I’ve mostly kept to it.

    — I’m talking about the kind of legal apparatus that would come into existence if laws like this were passed. There’s no need to speculate about what they would be like because they’ve been in existence in Europe and Canada for years and there’s no reason to think they would operate any differently here in the United States. Gary Carson

    Well, the courts in the United States deal with cases involving restrictions of speech all the time now. I’ve specifically asked orac and his pals about false claims in medical products, libel, slander, copyrite and tradmark violation. The courts rule on those all the time. And up until free speech became a legal fashion there were bans on pornography and indecent materials, there are bans on child pornography now. Why that isn’t taken to constitute this slippery slope you people don’t seem to realize we have always been on I don’t know. You seem to worry about some kind of censorious despotism, I worry more about a corporate despotism which would be entirely happy to have anything targeting mere humans for free sale, as long as their property rights to the “intellectual property” were observed.

    What’s being eroded every day is the right to representative government elected by informed voters, and the far right on the Supreme Court is using “free speech” to do it.

  92. #92 Matthew
    June 12, 2010

    How do these HTML block quotes work?

    Sorry about this, I’m trying to keep things legible.

    [You did, however, miss the larger point, that the Supreme Court is using the idea of “free speech” mixed with corporate person hood to destroy self-government by an informed electorate.]

    You named a controversial court case, Citizens United, and drew a conclusion about what you thought it meant, with no supporting evidence. Even if I agreed, a bald assertion isn’t a convincing argument.

    [I’ve never called for banning anything other than on the basis of a demonstrated violent effect.]

    also from Anthony at Echidne of the Snakes and a linked blog.

    [In one of my early blog posts, about the commercial exploitation of children, I said that if free speech advocates couldn’t find a way to protect children while protecting Lady Chatterley’s Lover, then, as far as I’m concerned, the book goes]

    [I suppose it wouldn’t be noticed that I’ve never called for suppressing anything except violent, degrading pornography and that any consensual act between fully consenting adults should be legal, even acts I think are disgusting.]

    [* Again, to avoid going over too far over a thousand words, I will leave out the all important issue of competing rights and how free speech can destroy those rights for some people.]

    Seems like you’re quite open to censorship. Let’s take a look at your “demonstrated violent effect”

    Anthony uses the case of James Edward Perry and the triple murder for hire he committed as a challenge to freedom of speech.

    Here are the details of the case. James Perry was hired by Lawrence Horn to murder Horn’s ex-wife, their invalid son, and his son’s live-in nurse. Lawrence Horn’s son had received a large trust fund as the result of a malpractice settlement and Horn hoped to acquire the money by killing the three.

    Perry was a violent felon with several prior convictions including two for armed robbery and one for attempted murder of a police officer. After release from prison, he began soliciting work as a killer for hire.

    The case became infamous because Perry had purchased a copy of “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors.” from Paladin Press. The book was described by the publisher as a “how to” manual for wannabe professional killers. Perry apparently followed the instructions in the book and the families of the victims sued the publisher claiming Paladin Press aided and abetted the killings.

    Well, this is certainly a challenging case for free speech advocates. How did Anthony present it?

    [My question is, can any book or video or anything which has been shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have motivated the violence it intended, be banned? Or am I right, your position is that no number of deaths or violent attacks is ever enough to allow banning?

    How about the example I cited yesterday, “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors”, explicitly, a how-to book for committing murder? Which has, based on its price, become a collector’s item. I’d imagine you can keep it next to your Jeffrey Dahmer memorabilia.]

    Well, we can discard “Shown beyond reasonable doubt” in the Hitman example, because the case was settled by the publisher’s insurer before it went to trial. What about “motivated the violence”?

    Lawrence Horn, the man who conceived the crime and sought to hire a killer had never read the book. James Perry was already soliciting work as a paid killer before he purchased the book. And the crime was committed over a year after Perry bought the book. It certainly isn’t clear that the book motivated this crime.

    Did Hitman play a role in the commission of the crime? It sure looks that way. So I’d agree there is a basis for an interesting discussion but we won’t get it from Anthony. And keep in mind, this is the example he’s holding up as a benchmark of demonstrated violent effect.

    So yes, it seems Anthony is quite open to censorship.

    [Like the fact that the Rwandan genocide, the various genocides in the Balkans and the Holocaust itself were the results of malignant speech that all the “more speech” and that ridicule that orac’s faith resides in didn’t prevent?]

    [McKneely, are you suggesting that the Nazi and Khmer Rouge governments were democracies? Or that Rwanda had a functioning democracy when the genocide was sparked by radio broadcasts?]

    You keep bringing up Rwanda. Honestly, what is your point? That the right to free speech, a right you admit the Rwandans’ didn’t have, failed to protect them from genocide incited by government propaganda?

    It’s already been pointed out to you that the Rwandan example seems to undercut your arguments. It appears the Rwandan genocide denial law is being used to suppress political opposition in the run up to this year’s election.

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/02/10/rwanda-end-attacks-opposition-parties

    Paul Rusesabagina, of Hotel Rwanda fame, has also been threatened with the law, again apparently because he’s critical of the current regime. But there’s no danger these laws will be misused?

    [Though, in my experience, the absolutists aren’t much concerned with the actual results of their positions]

    Orac, I need something stronger than a double face palm.

    By the way, I realize this is getting far afield from the usual subject matter of your blog. If you feel this is inappropriate, I’ll stop.

  93. #93 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    Where’s orac? He’s the one who wanted a definition to shoot down. I predict he’s going to write a scathing post on the Israeli anti-Holocaust, anti-Nazi laws. At least if wants to be consistent that’s what he’ll write about.

    Whoops, there goes another goalpost! Now we’re talking democracies only. When did that happen? McNeely

    “Goalpost”, you people need to get some new cliches. I’m not responsible for what anyone else says but I made the issue of democracy in first point I made here @62. Though, as in your previous comment, apparently you don’t distinguish between genocidal regimes and egalitarian democracies. Which would rather seem to miss the point.

    — His conviction, incidentally, was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada for constitutional reasons. McNeely

    Well, that’s what happens in courts in a democracy. Sometimes things get overturned for that reason. He was deported.

    — Canada Customs seems to have a mind of its own. It really loves to pick on Gay and Lesbian bookstores, routinely stopping shipments of books to these stores and laying obscenity charges. Its reach has recently been cut back but not stopped altogether. No one has gone to jail for this. McNeely

    You seem to think that this has something to do with the ban on Holocaust denial? It’s the Customs Act, not the same law. I think this is where someone’s supposed to notice a goalpost was moved. Only I don’t really expect anyone to notice when it’s one of the fraternity who does it.

  94. #94 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    Matthew, would it be permissible for an anti-vacc activist to write “How to Kill — the real name of orac —” with detailed and accurate instructions of how to do it and get away with it? Would that book and its author be allowed to do that under your level of “free speech”. I wouldn’t think there’s any rational reason to do it.

    You could have pointed to my asking if it would have been permissible to publish “How to Kill Dr. George Tiller” in this thread, which no one seemed to want to touch. Well, would it have been? Because that’s essentially what the anti-choice thugs do now.

    You should go look at the whining complaints about the civil trial against the publisher of Hit Man, whining and complaining that his insurance company, knowing they didn’t have a leg to stand on, made him settle and destroy all remaining copies of the how to murder manual. I believe one of them was in the curiously titled “Reason” magazine.

    So, who here would agree that it would be all right for someone to publish instructions for killing them? That free speech means that anyone can do it. How about a book about how to get away with murdering your ex-wife sold to “mens rights” groups? You like that idea?

    Ah, it looks like a slippery slope to me.

  95. #95 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    As for Rwanda, you think the situation there would be improved by freely expressed ethnic politics and denials of the character of the 1994 genocide? I don’t think that Victoire Ingabire’s activities have been neutral given the recent history and the ongoing problems with the Hutu gangs hold up on the frontier with Congo. I certainly wouldn’t approve of the beating of her party members but I’d have thought that would be more of an indication of how dangerous the situation is.

    Do you think that members of the Tutsi minority would passively accept openly ethnic Hutu political figures?

    The Kigali government isn’t perfect by a long stretch but in the region and in terms of the history of Rwanda and Burundi, it’s far from the worst.

    All I have said is that their genocide denial laws were justified and this doesn’t change my mind. How do you think it would be improved if people were free to deny what had happened?

  96. #96 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 12, 2010

    You seem to think that this has something to do with the ban on Holocaust denial? It’s the Customs Act, not the same law. I think this is where someone’s supposed to notice a goalpost was moved. Only I don’t really expect anyone to notice when it’s one of the fraternity who does it.

    I gave that as an example of what can happen in a democracy when well-intentioned restrictions on speech or writing are in force. Do you think that a ban on Holocaust denial could never be abused in this manner?

  97. #97 Anthony McCarthy
    June 12, 2010

    McNeely, you know by doing what you just did you moved a goalpost again.

    Do you think that laws controlling the content of information about medical devices and procedures could never be abused? Because you’ve never looked at the history of contraception in the United States if you do. I wonder how orac would like that thrown wide open and unregulated.

    So, you, like the rest of the regulars here apparently think a book about how to kill poor orac would be all right? How about How To Kill Your Ex-Wife? I’d like to stick up for orac and say I think a book telling how to kill him or any person or class of people would be rightly banned and people disseminating it should be punished.

  98. #98 Orac
    June 12, 2010

    Where’s orac? He’s the one who wanted a definition to shoot down.

    Actually having a life, as opposed to waiting eagerly to respond to you. I do do other things besides blog, you know, or sit around waiting for you. Believe it or not, I haven’t paid any attention to the blog today for at least 12 hours, and I had more important things to do than to spar with you today. I’m half-tempted to invoke William Shatner’s infamous “get a life” line.

    I’m also going to bed now because I’ve been busy with other things all day and then away most of the evening. I’m tired. Fear not, though, I’ll be back here.

    Tomorrow sometime. When I feel like it. Good night.

  99. #99 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 13, 2010

    McNeely, you know by doing what you just did you moved a goalpost again.

    Not by my understanding of the term.

    Do you think that laws controlling the content of information about medical devices and procedures could never be abused? Because you’ve never looked at the history of contraception in the United States if you do. I wonder how orac would like that thrown wide open and unregulated.

    I’m sorry, what in hell are you talking about? As far as I know, it used to be a crime to promote contraception in the USA (as well as many other places). Now it isn’t. Why is this an argument for banning Holocaust denial? Sounds to me like the opposite.

    So, you, like the rest of the regulars here apparently think a book about how to kill poor orac would be all right? How about How To Kill Your Ex-Wife? I’d like to stick up for orac and say I think a book telling how to kill him or any person or class of people would be rightly banned and people disseminating it should be punished.

    Check any forensic pathology textbook and it will provide you with many ways to kill someone, some of which are virtually undetectable. I guess we had better ban them and and punish the authors and publishers.

    You had better get some rest, your thinking is becoming even more muddled than before.

  100. #100 Matthew
    June 13, 2010

    [Matthew, would it be permissible for an anti-vacc activist to write “How to Kill — the real name of orac —” with detailed and accurate instructions of how to do it and get away with it? Would that book and its author be allowed to do that under your level of “free speech”. I wouldn’t think there’s any rational reason to do it.

    You could have pointed to my asking if it would have been permissible to publish “How to Kill Dr. George Tiller” in this thread, which no one seemed to want to touch. Well, would it have been? Because that’s essentially what the anti-choice thugs do now. ]

    I’m not a lawyer, much less a con law lawyer, nor do I base constitutional questions on my own personal feelings. However, the answer you’re looking for is no.

    In my admittedly unprofessional opinion, what you’re describing would be a “true threat” and therefore unprotected speech.

    Here’s some court cases which may clarify.

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2005/summer/threatscom

    This article was written before a verdict was reached. The defendants were found guilty.

    To more directly address the similar tactics used by anti-abortionists:

    http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/planned-parenthood-columbiawillamette-inc-v-american-coalition-life-activists

    You dislike the Reason article? Here it is.

    http://reason.com/archives/1999/08/01/the-day-they-came-to-sue-the-b

    I’ll leave this one to interested readers.

    On to Rwanda.

    My point about their law is that it embodies the danger of all such legislation; that it can be used to crackdown on expression far removed from genocide denial.

    [Do you think that members of the Tutsi minority would passively accept openly ethnic Hutu political figures? ]

    Here you appear to concede that is indeed what the Rwandan legislation is being used for.

    [I don’t think that Victoire Ingabire’s activities have been neutral given the recent history and the ongoing problems with the Hutu gangs hold up on the frontier with Congo.]

    I would ask that you stop oversimplifying the situation in Congo to justify this legislation.

    http://www.hrw.org/en/node/87142/section/5

    [All I have said is that their genocide denial laws were justified and this doesn’t change my mind.]

    I don’t think anything will change your mind.

    [How do you think it would be improved if people were free to deny what had happened?]

    I doubt denialists would improve anything. However, I also think that Rwanda would be better off if the current regime wasn’t using the genocide law to intimidate political opponents.

    I am curious, if you met Paul Rusesabagina would stand up for this law and the threats to use it against him?

  101. #101 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    I’m glad to hear you’re still among the living, orac. And here I thought you were preparing your battle ship to blow me out of the water, the one I’ve been expecting since this thread numbered in the early 100s. Are you implying that your regulars don’t have a life? Sorry, I do love to tease, though not in rough bars. I assure you, if it wasn’t raining here I’d really rather be in the garden right now.

    —-Not by my understanding of the term. McNeely

    Well, knock me over with a cement truck, if I couldn’t have predicted that. Though not by methods that would give a “skeptic” the willies.

    — Why is this an argument for banning Holocaust denial? McNeely

    Well, you’re the one who made the argument that the asserted abuse of the Customs Act in Canada was an argument in favor of Holocaust denial having civil liberties protection. If you want to go that route all kinds of stuff would have to be allowed because restricting it might lead to illegitimate overreach by some clerk somewhere who had a bad week or whose badge went to his head.

    — Check any forensic pathology textbook and it will provide you with many ways to kill someone, some of which are virtually undetectable. McNeely

    So, you are unable to detect the difference between a pathology text book, which doesn’t, by the publisher’s description instruct people in how a professional hit man plans his murders, carries them out, and escapes capture. I haven’t read the book so perhaps it also tells you how to kill someone and avoid detection, though I’ve got a feeling the fans of that genre might prefer something loud and violent. You think that the authors of pathology text books have something in common with the author of Hit Man that can’t be legally distinguished. Well, you did just miss the nature of the argument you made.

    You really do think that someone could publish a book instructing people how to murder a named individual or a class of individuals, such as ex-wives, and that has the right to full free speech protection. How about a letter doing the same thing?

    Come on, boys, you’re the ones who want to hide behind extreme hypotheticals. Well the murders attributed to Hit Man were anything but hypothetical, the murders of George Tiller and other doctors and womens health care providers and staff are anything by hypothetical and all have been promoted through the miracle of free speech absolutism.

    That’s the thing about an absolute stand, it shuts down thinking and reasoning and taking reality into account. And, as seen in the malignant Supreme Court rulings handing over our elections to the highest bidder, it’s so dangerous to other, arguably more important, things.

  102. #102 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    Oh, and orac, if you’re really getting tired of this, I assure you that if you asked me to not come to your blog, came out and said it, I promise you that I’ve always maintained that would be your right. There would be no hypocrisy in you doing that because you are not the government, you are under absolutely no First Amendment requirement to give up control of the content of your blog.

    I’ve deleted comments from blogs I was in charge of and threatened repeat violators with banning, you can point to me doing that myself. I’d give you the links to those but I don’t remember exactly where they are. I’ll stipulate that I’ve done it and you can cite this in your defense. If anyone is stupid enough to accuse you of doing what all editors and publishers do, control the content of THEIR publications. Blog rat libertarians don’t tend to catch on too quickly.

    I’d point out other places I’ve said this but the fans of another prominent blogger haven’t understood the point no matter how explicitly I’ve pointed out that’s the stand I’ve always taken on that. And it’s led to really long and tedious discussions, though I do think that the other blogger twigged onto it a lot faster than his fans did.

  103. #103 Matthew
    June 13, 2010

    [the murders attributed to Hit Man were anything but hypothetical]

    No one, not even the plaintiffs who sued Paladin Press, attributed the murders to the book Hit Man, the plaintiffs alleged “aiding and abetting”. To reiterate; the man who thought up the crime and hired the killer never read the book. The killer was a violent felon who was already soliciting work as a hit man prior to reading the book. So it’s not nearly as clear cut a case as you present it.
    Your continual distortion of the facts of the case come across as a dishonest attempt to bolster your argument.

    [the murders of George Tiller and other doctors and womens health care providers and staff are anything by hypothetical]

    As pointed out to you previously, true threats, including your hypothetical example, are not protected speech. At least, not now, not under the free speech “Absolutism” you’re railing against. The examples I linked contained successful prosecutions for such threatening speech.

    [all have been promoted through the miracle of free speech absolutism. ]

    Combining your willful misunderstanding of the Hitman case
    with the George Tiller murder and unspecified anti-abortion violence is misleading to the point of bald face lying. You seem to think it’s clever to slime your opponents with inferences of murder. It’s not.

  104. #104 Matthew
    June 13, 2010

    On the plus side, you like gardening. Here in California, we’re enjoying the last of the native sage and Matilija Poppy before summer sets in.

  105. #105 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    You mean, Matthew, you mean, I slandered the poor book?

    Here’s the publisher’s description of the book.

    ” Product Description
    Rex Feral kills for hire. Daring. Unafraid. Profrssional. Now he dares to tell his professional secrets.

    Feral is a hit man. Some consider him a criminal. Others think him a hero. In truth, he is a letal weapon aimed at the enemy of the one who pays him. He is the last recourse in these times when laws are so twisted that justice goes unserved. He is a man who controls his destiny through his private code of ethics, who feels no twinge of guilt at doing his job. He is a professional killer.

    Learn how a pro makes a living at this craft without landing behind bars. Find out how he gets hit assignments, creates a false working identity, makes a disposable silencer, leaves the scene without a trace of evidence, watches his mark unobserved, and more. An expert assassin and bodyguard, Feral reveals the details of how to get in, do the job, and get out – without getting caught. For informationl purposes only! ”

    Maybe the book, which obviously has more rights than the disabled child, his mother and his night nurse has, since they’re all dead, will bring me to court for slander.

    Hells belles.

    So, you would have nothing against a book detailing, “theoretically”, how to kill a named individual, say the owner of this blog, as long as it didn’t actually come out and say, Kill Him! Sort of like the “For informationl purposes only!” appended to the publisher’s come on.

    And I’m supposed to pretend that’s a serious point.

    No, I grew up a long, long time ago. Long enough ago to remember when adults didn’t pretend they didn’t understand a ruse like that when they saw it. Back before Nat Hentoff and his ilk popularized that kind of “let’s pretend”.

    How about a letter sent to ten unstable individuals of the same nature? Would that be a glorious expression of free speech, as long as it didn’t carry the actual command or “suggestion” to do it?

    What’s the matter? Don’t you want to face the results of your position full on?

  106. #106 Matthew
    June 13, 2010

    [You mean, Matthew, you mean, I slandered the poor book?]

    No. I said you attributed Perry and Horn’s crimes to the book when no one else had and when there is reasonable evidence that the crimes would have occurred regardless if Perry read the book.

    [So, you would have nothing against a book detailing, “theoretically”, how to kill a named individual, say the owner of this blog, as long as it didn’t actually come out and say, Kill Him! Sort of like the “For informationl purposes only!” appended to the publisher’s come on.]

    I have already answered this question twice. No. True threats, even if they don’t actually instruct killing , are not protected speech. In addition, I linked to two cases where defendants were found guilty of just such speech.

    You seem like an intelligent person. I’m not a particularly good writer but I think my points have been clear enough. I have to conclude that you are trolling as you are lying about my position in order to combat a straw man. However, it’s all here in writing, anyone’s free to read our exchange and decide who’s being honest.

  107. #107 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    Oh, you mean how to be a professional hit man books don’t kill the people their readers kill in a fashion remarkably consistent with the instructions in the book kill them, but people kill them and the publishers and authors of the instructions they followed are blameless.

    Matthew, I purposely phrased it so that there would be no actual threat in the letters or the how to kill orac book. From what you’ve said, that would make it all right and the authors and publishers would be off scott free…. Not to impute motives to a regular, by the way.

    Alas poor orac….

  108. #108 Matthew
    June 13, 2010

    You keep on constructing strawmen. It’s annoying.

    I originally brought up Hit Man because I thought it was your strongest argument for censorship. It does appear Perry followed the instructions in it and if that was the whole of the case; that a disgruntled person read this book and committed a copy cat crime, you’d have a pretty strong case that Hit Man was not protected. I would guess on incitement grounds.

    But that is not an accurate summary. Laurence Horn didn’t read the book, but he came up with the crime and actively sought a killer to commit it. Perry wasn’t some naive malcontent who read a book and decided to try it out. He had already been convicted of both armed robbery and attempted murder. He was also soliciting hits prior to reading the book.

    So I do believe there is room for a discussion about assigning blame. I’m unfamiliar with what qualifies aiding and abetting in a civil suit. Perhaps the Plaintiffs had a case.

    However, no one will have in interesting discussion with you. You fail to honestly describe the case, offer your own opinions as established fact, and then blow up when people refuse to accept your conclusions.

    [Matthew, I purposely phrased it so that there would be no actual threat in the letters or the how to kill orac book. From what you’ve said, that would make it all right and the authors and publishers would be off scott free]

    The following is from my previous response…

    [True threats, even if they don’t actually instruct killing , are not protected speech.}

    True threat is a legal term. You don’t actually have to make an explicit threat for speech to be defined as a True threat.

    The two cases I linked to demonstrated this. In both cases, the defendants did not make any explicit threat. The defendants lost both cases.

    Apparently, you couldn’t be bothered to read the links provided. You’d be better served by reading the information yourself but I’ll offer my amateur analysis.

    A book aimed at a specific individual with instructions tailored to that individual would fit the description of a true threat, even if no demand for action was made. In fact, even if the target individual was not named, if the book was specific enough that the targets identity was not in doubt, the book would constitute a threat.

    Hit Man does not fit this description. It instructs generally on how to commit crime. This is speech the courts have already found to be protected. However, it’s obviously not clear cut; one court found Hit Man to be protected under the 1st, the appeals panel did not.

    Now I’ve answered your hypothetical book question four times, each time in the negative. I’ve even given you examples of actual cases that mirror your hypothetical. No, the book your describing is not protected speech.

    [From what you’ve said, that would make it all right and the authors and publishers would be off scott free]

    I’ve stated the same position three times before and repeated it in this post yet you conclude that my position is the opposite of what I’ve stated. You’re a liar. There is nothing productive about having a conversation with an unabashed liar.

  109. #109 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    What’s annoying is having people talk about straw men at the drop of a hat. As I told one of the boys above, you need to get some new buzz words.

    Pretending that the book was uninvolved with the crime is the lie. Pretending that the subject matter of the book wasn’t meant to appeal to people who saw themselves as the same kind of “heroes” that “Rex Feral” is sold as being, as being professional killers, a percentage of which mentally ill readers could be expected to try out their new found “craft” and that any reasonable person would realize that the promo would attract people like that. Those are all lies.

    How do you know that Perry would have succeeded in killing three people if he hadn’t read the book. The book promises to teach people to murder and get away with it. The publisher and author certainly couldn’t very easily claim that they were confident the methods in the book wouldn’t make a killer more effective.

    We don’t know what would have happened except within the context of what did happen, and the book figured into it.

    I suppose that when I have the time and a strong does of anti-emetics I’ll have to go pouring over the staunch defenders of the book and free speech on behalf of the instructors of would be hit men. I usually try to avoid consuming that much bilge just before bed time. Apparently it’s to your taste.

    You are nuts.

  110. #110 Anthony McCarthy
    June 13, 2010

    Oh, when you come back, Matthew, let us know if it’s OK with you if you’re the subject of a how to book like that. I’m waiting for one of you to put yourself on the line, however theoretically. It’s so brave, theory. So easy, that kind of courage.

  111. #111 bush piglet
    June 14, 2010

    Anthony, I’m a long time lurker and I rarely ever post because quite frankly I’m out of my depth frequently. You ever seem not to care about that at all! I almost admire your fearlessness as much as your ability to type one handed.

  112. #112 Anthony McCarthy
    June 14, 2010

    bush piglet, as I your ability to imitate thinking one lobed.

    orac, do I have your permission to let loose my ridicule because I’ve really been keeping in in check.

  113. #113 bush pigleet
    June 14, 2010

    I didnt realise that you needed to ask permission to engage in a pissing contest but if you must you must. By the way the way its really sweet how you call it a ridicule, but you still shouldn,t let it loose in public.

  114. #114 Anthony McCarthy
    June 14, 2010

    A “pissing match”. That’s how you see arguing about preventing people getting murdered on an industrial scale.

    You see, orac, as with the free speech industry, it’s not about the people who get killed who might not have been with blog libertarians, it’s an argument about abstract “principles” that don’t bleed. It’s a political and legal equivalent of medical treatment based on the humors and metaphysics.

  115. #115 Anthony McCarthy
    June 16, 2010

    To complete this, I sent this e-mail to orac last weekend, which he hasn’t answered.

    Orac, if you would like me to stop commenting on Holocaust denial and related topics at your blog, all you’ve got to do is tell me and stop hectoring me about it. I will keep it up if you continue doing that. If it wasn’t for the hectoring, I’d have stopped the first time I indicated I wanted to. But you’ll have to say it in response to my last comment now on the thread instead of privately.

    The issue is important, and I wasn’t about to leave off for a frivolous reason.

    You’re a very smart man, orac, it’s been a pleasure watching you figure out my strategies and avoiding my baits and traps. Though every one of those is an important, real-life, consideration. . You’re very good at it and I like to think I’m not entirely unskilled in this style of argument. The boys, not so much. If I don’t believe that you were always entirely honest in your doing it, who am I to complain.

    I do believe the unthinking stand you’ve taken on this is unworthy of your abilities. I’m sure you don’t agree. I am afraid as the out of control Roberts court continues, that stand will only become more obviously dangerous. I’m afraid the future they’ve got planned for us will not allow people to remain on auto-pilot on free speech indefinitely.

    yours truly, Anthony McCarthy

    P. S. I wouldn’t actually have used your name, that was a test to see how unacceptable that act of free speech would have been to you and your fans. You seem to have figured that one out right off, them, not as fast.

    —-
    I’m leaving this and the recent, related climate change denial controversy convinced that pseudo-skepticism is a lot more dangerous than I thought before and will attack it more vigorously from now on.

  116. #116 L. Newington
    June 17, 2010

    So many comments mine will probably just pass by and that’s ok; I would just like to say that I am not Jewish I am a Catholic convert and if asked for one person I would like to meet before I die it would have to be Elie Wiesel without a doubt. Some comments have been a little unkind; he has carried the memories of a loving family he lost and been faithful to the promise of “I will never forget you” to all those of his Jewish heritage who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime, whilst many times by many remained silent.
    It would be a very sad thing for him too, in this his twilight years, to realize the white wash of history of what happened to his people for expediency and to see a pope of that time who was called upon by leaders of the world to exercise his influence and authority, to denounce what was happening under his very nose, heading for sainthood.
    I should embrace you Elie; as a friend, then as a father mother a sister a brother and all those to whom you made that promise of remembrance to, and share in your Gethsemene, if for just a moment.
    A faithful son to whom all are proud.

  117. #117 Andy W
    October 1, 2010

    Horror movies : Dial H for Holocaust , written , produced and directed by Adolf Hitchcock …… Anne Frankenstein …….. Mass murder on the Auschwitz Express and finaly …… Nightmare on Elie Wiesel Street .

  118. #118 Andy W
    October 1, 2010

    Horror movies : Dial H for Holocaust , written , produced and directed by Adolf Hitchcock …… Anne Frankenstein …….. Mass murder on the Auschwitz Express and finaly …… Nightmare on Elie Wiesel Street .

  119. #119 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 1, 2010

    Did you have a point beyond satisfying a fifth-grade desire to shock, Andy?

  120. #120 Anthony McCarthy
    June 23, 2011

    Antaeus Feldspar, so, you missed that little side topics of genocide and neo-Nazis and Holocaust denial.

    What an absolutely stupid waste of time your comment was.

  121. #121 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 23, 2011

    You came back after eight months just to whine that my comment wasted time? You could use some self-awareness, friend.

  122. #122 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 23, 2011

    Ah, that was my other theory, that it was actually the pothead sockpuppet troll trying to earn himself a banning.

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