Pharyngula

A Lutheran pastor in Germany has been jailed. What for, you might wonder? It depends on who you ask. The Free Republic claims it is because he was a Christian saying what he believes; others are saying it’s because he’s anti-abortion; surprise, surprise, Bill Dembski says it’s because he was an advocate for teaching Intelligent Design, and sees this as jailing creationists.

Unfortunately for their causes, they’re all wrong. He was jailed for being a holocaust denier, which is a crime in Germany. I’m not too keen on that law myself, but the evidence is clear—there are quotes at that link where he’s plainly claiming that millions weren’t killed in the death camps, the Auschwitz camp is a fake, etc.

I’m also not in favor of criminalizing creationism, by the way, although I do think teachers who promote it in their classrooms ought to be fired for gross incompetence and for ignorance of the subject they were hired to teach.

Comments

  1. #1 John M. Burt
    June 25, 2007

    “Nobody zhould be zhailed for deir obinionzz.”

    That’s the sound of me holding my nose and defending the bastard.

  2. #2 Caledonian
    June 25, 2007

    Last I heard, the strategy was backfiring – Neonazism is stronger than ever in Germany.

    Don’t they understand that what is verboten becomes attractive? The forbidden has a very powerful allure.

  3. #3 cureholder
    June 25, 2007

    Of course, I completely oppose any law that forbids punishing a viewpoint. In addition, as a long-time college professor, I have seen the plus-side of allowing these idiots to spout their nonsense about the reality of the Holocaust: namely, the controversy sparks interest in students who otherwise would never have really learned much about the Holocaust.

    The only real way to counter Holocaust denial is to dig into the details of what happened, the families and cultures that were devastated, the individuals who make up that horrific body count. This type of discussion not only eclipses any silly “it never happened” comments, but also creates a depth and a resonance in the topic for students who otherwise could remain apathetic.

    That said, I also agree with PZ that teachers who are incompetent should be fired, even if (or especially if) their incompetence is cloaked in religion.

  4. #4 Ray M
    June 25, 2007

    Don’t they understand that what is verboten becomes attractive? The forbidden has a very powerful allure.

    It certainly does… why, even those good ol’ Genesis writers knew that 🙂

  5. #5 CalGeorge
    June 25, 2007

    He denies the Holocaust (lots of evidence) but believes in a deity (no evidence).

    Go figure.

  6. #6 notthedroids
    June 26, 2007

    Just another example of the sort of person to which the ID movement is willing to sign on.

  7. #7 notthedroids
    June 26, 2007

    Oh, my bad — he’s a Lutheran pastor. He must be a stellar guy.

  8. #8 Skeptic8
    June 26, 2007

    Yes, the Holocaust was a sham. You see they had these specially starved actors set up before the troops and photographers got to Bergen-Belsen. The construction crews, the fabrication of internal paperwork and meticulous documentation that fits the tattoo numbers on those “actors” who survived. Some staging, eh?

  9. #9 Thad Ritchards
    June 26, 2007

    In other Germany news:
    “Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4108575a1860.html

  10. #10 Mark Plus
    June 26, 2007

    I wish these Jew haters would get their story straight: The Holocaust didn’t happen, and the Nazis didn’t kill enough Jews to matter any way.

  11. #11 Crudely Wrott
    June 26, 2007

    Everyone with a brain knows that opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

    To outlaw even one point of view is to outlaw some one saying. ‘Nice day, isn’t it.’

    To grant that every point of view is equally useful is the same as saying that none are superior.

    The state of the world, and the quality of our lives, is the result of the application of superior points of view.

    I introduce as evidence Velcro, the internal combustion engine, telephony, leverage and mechanical advantage, radar, machine tools, language, oh, you get the point!

    Dembski is on a fishing expedition. He’s trying to catch deep water species in shoal water. Sorry, Bill. You’re an ass and you are wrong. (I wonder which came first.)

  12. #12 BlueIndependent
    June 26, 2007

    Hmm, it sounds like Germany has a few too many laws. Laws protecting evolution and in direct action against creationism? Threatening homeschoolers? Jailing pro-lifers just for saying certain things? I’m not a fan of any of these laws, and none of them are positions I agree with. The laws against holocaust denial are mildly understandable given the “ground zero” nature of Germany’s history in that regard, but still…

  13. #13 Bob O'H
    June 26, 2007

    The only real way to counter Holocaust denial is to dig into the details of what happened, the families and cultures that were devastated, the individuals who make up that horrific body count.

    I wonder if that’s the problem in Germany. My impression (and I’ll admit, I haven’t lived there) is that they get a lot of education about the holocaust. I would suspect that over-exposure might be a problem, especially to someone who wants to be nationalistic: you’re constantly being told that your country is evil. One reaction is then denialism.

    Bob

  14. #14 Cairnarvon
    June 26, 2007

    In other Germany news:
    “Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4108575a1860.html

    See, that one kind of makes sense. Scientology is recognised as a brainwashing cult in Germany, and having a cultist run around a military base for any length of time is just a bad idea.

    Banning holocaust denial (and swastikas and whatnot), that’s less defensible.

  15. #15 Justin Moretti
    June 26, 2007

    In fact, what Germany’s anti Holocaust denial laws boil down to is jail time for slandering and libelling the (at this stage still living) survivors, by saying that everything they went through is a lie which those survivors are perpetuating.

    It’s not “being in jail for having an opinion” at all. Holocaust denial, written and spoken, is slanderous and libellous; and any nation is entitled to mandate jail time for those crimes if they so wish.

    (Yes, I know I’m being a bit disingenuous here, but I think you see the point.)

  16. #16 Chinchillazilla
    June 26, 2007

    From the director of This Planet Is Really Old, The Holocaust and The Moon Landing, see the summer’s best fake: 9/11!

    Man, conspiracy theorists are insane.

  17. #17 Tyler DiPietro
    June 26, 2007

    Justin Moretti,

    Given such a premise, one could also argue that jailing him for advocating ID creationism was, in fact, justified. After all, behind IDC is more or less the claim that biologists are faking the evidence for evolution and/or are engaged in a massive conspiracy to suppress the truth of IDC.

    I realize you put up your disclaimer for a reason, but I’m just sayin’…

  18. #18 autumn
    June 26, 2007

    As has been said many times before, by folks much more eloquent (well-spoken?) than I, the best way to quiet an untruth is to allow it be examined by the inquiry of the public forum. Opinions that merit discussion will be engulfed by it, opinions that are silly will at least be silly in the light of day, rather than hiding in the disreputable alleys of “forbidden ideas”.
    Words should be met with more convincing words, not the ukase of censorship.

  19. #19 raven
    June 26, 2007

    Guy is suffering from polykookism. AKA polycrackpotism, polydelusionalism, and polycuckooism. I expect to see this in DSM V.

    I think everyone has noticed that a lot of the various reality deniers tend to collect lunatic fringe theories. A creo will also be an MD/medicine hater convinced that vaccinating kids is evil. An AIDS denialist will be a creo who denies the holocaust. They all believe in flying saucers and the Illuminati. Bigfoot is a frequent dinner guest and don’t get them started on elves, fairies, brownies, lepruchuans, trolls, and demons.

    They also tend to conflate them. So you have the catholic Illuminati who are really Jewish flying saucers designed by Grey aliens at the Bigfoot complex to lay down chemtrails with HIV which doesn’t exist but it was engineered by the US army to support the special forces which really blew up the World Trade center in a plot by Darwinists to promote troll-human breeding…….Probably left a lot out here.

    One such is a middle aged lady of my aquaintance. She is actually harmless but collects delusions and believes them all. She is also mentally fragile, lonely, and can go off the rails for days if someone pushes too hard on the whole shaky edifice. When one of these polys is located, the best thing to do is leave them alone or smile and nod. They aren’t going to change and are easily upset for days on end.

  20. #20 Janine
    June 26, 2007

    Shit, I am just as worried about those people who claim the pastor was jailed for their pet causes. Who cares about the truth! Let us make him a martyr for our cause.

    Schmucks.

  21. #21 j.t.delaney
    June 26, 2007

    Hmm, it sounds like Germany has a few too many laws. Laws protecting evolution and in direct action against creationism? Threatening homeschoolers? Jailing pro-lifers just for saying certain things? I’m not a fan of any of these laws, and none of them are positions I agree with. The laws against holocaust denial are mildly understandable given the “ground zero” nature of Germany’s history in that regard, but still…

    Ahem, Germany doesn’t have any such anti-creantionism/anti-pro-life laws. That’s just Dembski’s pure fantasy. They do have a number of laws in place for the last 60+ years that were written with the intention of keeping nationalism resurging. For a number of historical reasons, unlike in the United States, nationalism is almost universally viewed as a bad thing in Germany, and even patriotism is only just starting to be viewed as socially acceptable.

    The increase in neonazis in Germany during the last 15 years has nothing to do with this set of laws, and everything to do with economics. There are regions of germany with chronic 20% unemlpoyment rates, and in an atmosphere like that, bad ideas take root. Neonazis are a pest all over Western Europe; here in the Netherlands where the laws are more relaxed and there is no stigma associated with nationalism, neonazis can afford to be much more brash and it’s not so much fun for us foreigners.

    As an American, at first I was opposed to such laws (freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy, etc.) However, as an American living abroad with a racially mixed family, it’s not all so abstract and academic anymore; I’ve got a dog in this fight. From what I’ve seen, such anti-nazi laws do a reasonable job ostracizing a rather violent social movement that would *love* to advertise much, much more. The laws have kept the neonazis and their sympathizers from having any significant influence in federal politics, and as a result, Germany is a lot friendlier place for foreigners to live today than a lot of its neighboring countries. These laws do not inhibit Germany’s ability to enjoy a successful, democratic, open society. Yes, it isn’t exactly the libertarian ideal that we were all taught in highschool civics class, but it does work.

  22. #22 jwb
    June 26, 2007

    I commented a while ago regarding an off-hand “there oughtta be a law… send ’em all to jail” remark. Thanks for this clarification. It can be all to easy to want to sic the government on those with whom you disagree.

  23. #23 IanR
    June 26, 2007

    I was killing time, waiting on my wife in the lab where she worked, when I noticed a family tree on the printer tray. So, given my fascination with genealogy I started reading. And almost every branch ended with “Died, Auschwitz”, or Bergen Belsen, or some other name I recognised. I found myself looking for the one survivor of a whole branch of the family, someone to pass on the genes of three of four generations…and there were none. On some weird level it felt like it would be a little less terrible if one great-grandchild survived. But for large swathes of this guy’s family (basically everyone but the descendants of this guy’s grandfather and two (iirc) of the grandfather’s brothers – there was no one left.

    My relatives were Nazis…they may not have run the camps, but they facilitated Hitler’s rise to power. There are few things more vile than Holocaust deniers. And while vile creationists try to blame the Holocaust on Darwin, I say with shame as a Protestant, that it was Luther’s intellectual child, not Darwin’s.

  24. #24 j.t.delaney
    June 26, 2007

    Sorry, that should read:

    They do have a number of laws in place for the last 60+ years that were written with the intention of keeping nationalism from resurging.”

    That one little extra word changes the meaning completely…

  25. #25 tacitus
    June 26, 2007

    j.t. Good comment. I also suspect that the majority of Germans prefer the law remains in place and that they do not see it as any threat to their democratic ideals.

    I grew up in Britain, where there is no protection of freedom of speech or other such protections enshrined into a written constitution (although Gordon Brown is indicating he would like to draw one up). As a result, laws governing protected speech in Britain are somewhat more restrictive but not to the extent that it is any sort of threat to their democracy. There have been cases where overzealous police have arrested people for speaking out against, say, homosexuality, but these cases are few and far between, and the adverse publicity they cause typically corrects the situation expeditiously.

    What matters more is how the government handles these situations when they arise. For example, no British citizen has been detained for years without charge (that we know of, anyway) as part of the so called War on Terror. That cannot be said to be the case in the US, in spite of the written US Constitution.

  26. #26 G. Tingey
    June 26, 2007

    The German anti-holocaust law is also founded on one of the principles which were used to set the state up ( Grudesgesätz ) …
    “NO freedom for the enemies of freedom” – because Adolf said, quite openly, that if he came to power, all this democracy nonsense would have to go.

    So openly Nazi and Trotskyite paties, that state that if they get power … are banned.

    It isn’t perfect, but you can see why they do it.

  27. #27 bernarda
    June 26, 2007

    Christopher Hitchens deals with these anti-speech laws very well at a conference in Toronto.

    http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/03/free_speech_6.html#comments

    I don’t remember how many of these debates I have seen on blogs recently, but it always comes back to the same thing. Hitchens makes the point that people are not jailed for anything they did, but for what they thought and said.

    The Vatican recently accused an Italian comedian of promoting hate towards the Church in one of his routines. Xians, Muslims, and Jews have all spoken about the need to prohibit “disrespect” for religion.

    In addition to holocaust denial, France has laws against Armenian holocaust denial and slavery denial. Where does it end?

    One of the problems specific to holocaust denial laws is that it conflates deniers with anti-semitism and especially anti-zionists and critics of Israel. For example, historian Deborah Lipstadt does that.

    “Lipstadt agrees that criticism against Israel is as legitimate as that against any other country; but she stresses the difficulty of sharply defining proper boundaries: “What is not permitted,” she concludes, “is false historical analysis and the use of immoral equivalencies. One cannot compare the 2002 Jenin battle to the Shoah. Such a comparison shows either ignorance of history or misguided intentions.”

    Lipstadt sees this comparison as a new expression of denial. “When one speaks about Israeli soldiers as Nazis, that is a denial of what Israeli soldiers are and what the Nazis were. This is a misuse of history for political purposes. One may not like Israel, but that is different from lying about history in a court. Much current criticism of Israel is based on anti-Semitism and denial. Some of the exaggerated talk about Israeli power, Israeli strength and Israeli ability is very similar to what one has seen for decades in the writings of the Holocaust deniers and, before that, in those of the Nazis and other anti-Semites.””

    She also feels free to label people who disagree with her as “dangerous half-way historians”, implicitly linking someone like Norman Finkelstein with the deniers.

    “A very different type of extremist is Norman Finkelstein, who claims that the memory of the Holocaust has been made into an industry. Had he not been a child of survivors, his book would not have received any attention. Yet other voices complain that the Jews try to monopolize their victimhood at the expense of other sufferers.”

    In spite of this evidence to the contrary, she says she believes in free speech.

    “As an American, I’m a staunch believer in free speech. I recognize, however, that the situation in Germany is different and that there might be room there for a law against Holocaust denial; but there is also a practical aspect to my general opposition to laws against Holocaust denial. When speech is restricted, it becomes ‘forbidden fruit’ and more interesting to people.”

    http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-11.htm

  28. #28 csrster
    June 26, 2007

    What are you on about? Lipstadt says that comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is form of holocaust denial – an arguable point. But she nowhere claims that holocaust denial _laws_ should be interpreted as applying to such comparisons or criticisms.

  29. #29 Jules
    June 26, 2007

    Creationists count some scientists among them.
    They count this as a good argument that they are serious,
    people should believe them.

    Well, sects attract intelligent people too.
    Being a scientist doesnt prevent one from
    falling in. Con men are intelligent too.

    Science, and scientific methods, can be used to describe reality or build machines, experiments – I am not
    speaking of the “social sciences” experiments.

    Being open and officially acknowledging that
    science is a “work in progress” project and not set in stone is a great advancement in our civilisation.

    Advancing one`s opinion should not be held a crime as in Germany.
    Still some work to do to make history a science,
    not an art/
    my two cents

  30. #30 Valerie
    June 26, 2007

    We don’t have “anti-creationism-laws” in Germany.The reason creationism isn’t taught at our schools is that it isn’t a recognised scientific theory (translate:We think it’s bullshit.)We don’t have “anti-pro-life-laws”,we have laws against slander,libel,gross insults and threat of bobily harm (You evil-babykillers,we’ll bomb your clinic! etc.)We refuse to recognize Scientology as a religion on the same base on which we proscecute Holocaust-deniers (I myself prefer the term “Nazi-genocide”)and Nazi-revisionists:Their ideologies are “verfassungsfeindlich”,meaning they are “enemies of the constitution”, they are trying to subvert the principles on which the country/state is founded.

  31. #31 Heleen
    June 26, 2007

    The first link makes it clear it is not the first time this Lutheran pastor Lerle has been in trouble with the law.
    Translation of the text of the right wing web site:
    “The basis for the high sentence was too that Lerle
    had been sentenced already six times, resulting in two times in jail, in total 18 months. These sentences were the consequences of so-called public insult, as he cried out against the murder of children in their mother’s body mentioning the names of the perpetrators and their helpers.”
    Moreover, after Lerle complained about the legality of abortion to the German Constitutional Court, and was rebuffed, he used insulting language about the judges.
    The site does not say Lerle is a creationist, that is Dembsk’s present anti-Europe hype.
    However, Holocaust denial, pro-life, creationism, right wing Christianity, they’re all experts in trading insults.

  32. #32 Christian
    June 26, 2007

    Caledonian said:

    Last I heard, the strategy was backfiring – Neonazism is stronger than ever in Germany.

    Don’t they understand that what is verboten becomes attractive? The forbidden has a very powerful allure.

    That may all well be the case but most of these laws which have to do with the Nazi past of Germany are even older than the modern Federal Republic since immediately after the war the Allies banned the Nazi party (together with its symbols, slogans, propaganda, etc.).

    Additionally, as far as I know the Allies also had some say in the drafting of the new “Grundgesetz” (basic law) and obviously they didn’t object to these laws, however, I’m sure they would have if they had not been included.

    And as these laws didn’t come with an expiration date they are still on the books and most likely will remain there for quite some time.

    So as you can imagine it’s extremely hard to remove such laws and that any attempt – no matter your motivation – will result in a spectacular political suicide.

  33. #33 Who Cares
    June 26, 2007

    @J.T.Delaney
    I know where you coming from with wanting to keep the denial law (I’m living in one of those countries neighboring Germany).
    But this law is preventing a reasoned debate against these people which should be very easy with the reams of evidence the nazis left.
    Why is this important? The people who haven’t experienced WWII (or had one or more (grand) parents killed in the camps) are becoming easier targets for the deniers. They are starting to turn people like this pastor into martyrs, hinting at the fact that the only reason there is a law is to protect the official truth which is a lie. They have found a way to use a law that is meant to keep them in check as a way to vindicate their position.
    I do not know what other elements of German society the law keeps in check but on a global scale this law is starting to work as a tool to recruit for and validate the denialist position.

  34. #34 Shawn Wilkinson
    June 26, 2007

    In relation to Creationist lows, I found a YouTube video of a dubbed Stephen Hawkins denouncing the truth value of the theory of evolution. And they claim that scientists are the liars and “thieves in the night”?

  35. #35 Moggie
    June 26, 2007

    Who is “Stephen Hawkins”, and why should I care? Do you also write about “Charles Dorwin” and “Albert Eisenstein”?

  36. #36 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 26, 2007

    The increase in neonazis in Germany during the last 15 years has nothing to do with this set of laws, and everything to do with economics. There are regions of germany with chronic 20% unemlpoyment rates, and in an atmosphere like that, bad ideas take root.

    While I haven’t engaged any neonazis, it seems on the surface that many of the groups and individuals are only loosely associated with nazism or even political ideas outside the basic hatred for their outgroup. Sometimes the main thing seems to be the possibility to dress as the ingroup, drink to excess and demonstrate their hate for immigrants and homosexuals.

    As for creationism, better education and information would move some of the naive away from such a movement. And I wouldn’t expect the same amount of hardcore fundamentalism behind, as long as they don’t impress as many people through their family and upbringing as religions do. The unemployment issue is a tough add on problem though.

  37. #37 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 26, 2007

    The increase in neonazis in Germany during the last 15 years has nothing to do with this set of laws, and everything to do with economics. There are regions of germany with chronic 20% unemlpoyment rates, and in an atmosphere like that, bad ideas take root.

    While I haven’t engaged any neonazis, it seems on the surface that many of the groups and individuals are only loosely associated with nazism or even political ideas outside the basic hatred for their outgroup. Sometimes the main thing seems to be the possibility to dress as the ingroup, drink to excess and demonstrate their hate for immigrants and homosexuals.

    As for creationism, better education and information would move some of the naive away from such a movement. And I wouldn’t expect the same amount of hardcore fundamentalism behind, as long as they don’t impress as many people through their family and upbringing as religions do. The unemployment issue is a tough add on problem though.

  38. #38 Shawn Wilkinson
    June 26, 2007

    Yes, but you forgot “Richard Dawxins”, “Stevan Pinker”, “Daniel Dennatt”, “Richard Feynmen”, “Steven Weinburg”, and “Stephen Goulde”, to name a few more.

    But as an aside, I meant Steven Hawking. I know you biology types don’t give much of a hoot for physics, but he’s kind of a big deal in mathematical physics, specifically quantum gravity in relation to black holes.

  39. #39 xenowolp
    June 26, 2007

    While I’m all for free speech, this law is just a mixed bag.
    I think it may just be a bit hard to grasp if you are a from a country that didn’t suffer from a fashist period in it’s younger history and especially the decades of brainwashing that come with it, but I think it is evident that the denying of any crime, and especially those of such tremendous scale is hurtful at best.

    With the way the German constitution (or well, Grundgesetz) is set up it favors one thing above all: the protection of itself and democracy, even with force when necessary. Which is basicly what this law is a about since Holocaust denial threatens the very fabric it is made of.

    I for myself am amazed everytime how some people can switch from nice, elderly person to a hateful, Nazi-propaganda spitting one within seconds. I think only then one can grasp how deeply rooted mentalities like this can be and how they can outlast their perpetrators for over 60 years

  40. #40 MartinM
    June 26, 2007

    I think it may just be a bit hard to grasp if you are a from a country that didn’t suffer from a fashist period in it’s younger history

    Don’t worry, they’re working on that.

  41. #41 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    As an American, at first I was opposed to such laws (freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy, etc.) However, as an American living abroad with a racially mixed family, it’s not all so abstract and academic anymore; I’ve got a dog in this fight.

    So, let me get this straight: you support the freedom of speech until you’d be negatively affected by it, then you support restrictions of that freedom.

    Didn’t you once live in America? Couldn’t you do so again? And if you did, wouldn’t you still support restricting freedom of speech?

    Stay in Europe, kthnx.

  42. #42 Gerard Harbison
    June 26, 2007

    Some comments.

    As others have pointed out, Grundgesetz 130 (3), (literally translated as basic law) is in effect part of the German Constitution. It was an element of denazification, and dates to 1949. It’s technically a law against incitement by publicly denying the holocaust. It wouldn’t be found consistent with the First Amendment in the US, but is similar to anti-incitement laws in most of Europe, including countries that are democracies every bit as vibrant as the US.

    Lerle has been embraced, first in Europe, and now here, as a Christian martyr, by people who didn’t bother to check exactly what he was charged with. It will be interesting to see if Dembski and his soul mates delicately back away from their embrace, once they find exactly the kind of ncreature he is.

  43. #43 beibanjin
    June 26, 2007

    I’ve always wondered something about Holocaust-denial laws and I was wondering if someone–perhaps the poster above who lives in Germany–could enlighten me.

    A law banning denial of the Holocaust must first specify what the Holocaust was. Since many deniers play games with the death toll rather than claiming that Auschwitz never existed, it seems the law would have to specify some certain minimum number of deaths. Is this the case? And if so, is this not playing into the hands of the deniers, since we will never know exactly how many people died? In other words, if you are forced to define the Holocaust in terms of number dead, don’t you admit the deniers to the table, as simply another set of historians with a different set of numbers?

    I saw this problem firsthand a couple years ago in China, where there is a horrifying memorial to the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, complete with great heaps of unearthed bones and skulls. You’d think that would be the focal point to the memorial, but as it happens Japan has its own rightwing deniers, who in the face of convincing evidence of the Massacre have played this same game with the numbers. In response the Chinese government has engraved “300,000” in enormous digits in the front wall of the memorial, as if that tells you more than the great heaps of bones do. If the true toll is later determined to be somewhat less (as international estimates in fact have it), the Japanese rightists will be justified in calling for that wall to come down. This hardly seems the best way to deal with deniers.

  44. #44 laserboy
    June 26, 2007

    Caledonian, free speech is not a black and white issue anywhere in the world. Despite constitutional guarantees and other laws there are still strict limitations on what one can say in the US without legal ramifications. The only thing that varies across the world is where the limits lie. I, for one, am not that unhappy with where the limits have been placed in Europe.

    I also enjoy the fact that I can speak out (on either side) of an emotive issue such as abortion and not get death threats and am more likely to get an argument based on reason (flawed starting premises perhaps, but reason all the same).

    So yeah, I’ll stay here quite happily even though I don’t have a dog in the fight.

  45. #45 M. H.
    June 26, 2007

    You make a good point, beibanjin. I think that even the holocaust deniers would agree that lots of Jews were murdered by Nazis, and that should be enough. Jews were targeted simply for being Jews, and whether 100,000 died, or 10 million died, it was an atrocity because of the intent, not how successful it was. Give historians a free rein to study the numbers, but don’t let such discussions eclipse the true horror: the persecution of a people because of who their parents were.

  46. #46 Satoris
    June 26, 2007

    As a resident of (former East) Germany, I assure you laws against holocaust denial are no more a restriction on free speech than is the outlawing of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The idea behind the German anti-denialist laws is that speech that causes significant public or personal harm can be prohibited. As other posters have pointed out, the harm caused by denying the holocaust and suffering of living holocaust victims is greater, in the eyes of the law, than the harm caused by denying an individual the right to make false statements which could foment public unrest, riots, and other nationalism-inspired violence.

    Incidentally, there is a neo-nazi pride gathering every year in former East Germany (in Jena, where I live). This gathering is permitted by law, so long as the speakers do not use it as a platform to incite violence. Having lived in both countries, I would say Germans in general enjoy more freedom than Americans.

  47. #47 Justin
    June 26, 2007

    “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
    Sam Harris, TEOF, pages 52-53

    If teaching creationism is child abuse as Dawkins tells us, how can we allow it to go on?

  48. #48 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    than is the outlawing of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

    That’s not outlawed here. If there were no fire, the speaker can be held responsible for any damage, injuries, or deaths that result from his action.

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    It’s very simple. If you have gone through the German — or Austrian — education system, you cannot be ignorant of the holocaust. (Remember: the postmodernists can go cheney themselves — there is such a thing as reality; you are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.) Therefore, if you deny it, you must be a liar whose intent is destroying democracy and the very freedom of speech you profitted of. The German and Austrian democracies protect themselves by putting such liars in jail.

    Glorifying Stalin is AFAIK not forbidden in Austria (I don’t know about Germany). That’s because there have never been enough communists (let alone Stalinists) in Austria to be a threat. In fact, they tried to mount a general strike in 1950, and failed completely.

  50. #50 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    It’s very simple. If you have gone through the German — or Austrian — education system, you cannot be ignorant of the holocaust. (Remember: the postmodernists can go cheney themselves — there is such a thing as reality; you are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.) Therefore, if you deny it, you must be a liar whose intent is destroying democracy and the very freedom of speech you profitted of. The German and Austrian democracies protect themselves by putting such liars in jail.

    Glorifying Stalin is AFAIK not forbidden in Austria (I don’t know about Germany). That’s because there have never been enough communists (let alone Stalinists) in Austria to be a threat. In fact, they tried to mount a general strike in 1950, and failed completely.

  51. #51 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    In contrast, if you have gone through the US education system and then go on to be a YEC, it is by no means proven that you are a dominionist who wants to abolish democracy and freedom of speech. It is entirely imaginable that you are simply ignorant.

  52. #52 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    In contrast, if you have gone through the US education system and then go on to be a YEC, it is by no means proven that you are a dominionist who wants to abolish democracy and freedom of speech. It is entirely imaginable that you are simply ignorant.

  53. #53 Orac
    June 26, 2007

    I truly, truly detest laws that criminalize Holocaust denial, as my discussions of the David Irving case attest. They’re the biggest favor a government can do Holocaust deniers, because such laws allow scum like Lerle to don the mantle of a free speech martyr.

    As for Sartoris’s comment, well, sorry but that’s just a load of B.S. It is criminalizing political speech; moreover it is not criminalizing speech that incites violence. Most Holocaust deniers, as disgusting as they are otherwise, are smart enough not to do direct incitements to violence.

    Finally, there actually is no law against shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre. That’s simply a myth.

  54. #54 Sebastian
    June 26, 2007

    The basic reasoning behind anti-nazism laws in Germany has been pointed out by several posters already: The protections of the democratic system are extended only to those political movements which agree to abide by its rules and do not actively work to abolish democracy itself. Having grown up in a country that has actually experienced the abolishment of democracy and rule of fascism once before, this really seems like a no-brainer to me. If you show up at a sports match wielding a chainsaw, screaming “I’ll kill you all!” you’re not allowed to participate, and removing you from the playing field (even forcibly) is not considered a “foul” by the rules of the game.

    At the time the law in question was created, denying the reality of the holocaust was a pretty sure sign of nazism and tantamount to agitation against democracy itself. This is no longer necessarily the case. With the passing of the decades it has now become possible for a person of sufficient idiocy to hold the view that all that fuss about genocide is just exaggeration, even if the idiot in question does not actually believe that the nazis had it right and democracy has to be replaced by fascism.

    Thus the law probably is wrong, in that respect, and should be amended to allow idiots to spout any bullshit they like, as long as they don’t hurt anyone or incite others to inflict hurt – which is already covered by other, less controversial laws.

  55. #55 Umilik
    June 26, 2007

    I would like to add a few points to this discussion, one being that you can also be (and people have been) prosecuted for holocaust denial in Canada under what I think is called something like the anti hate crime law. Holocaust denial, is incidentally also illegal in Austria.
    Secondly there is certainly an economic dimension to the rise of neonazism in Germany, but it is also noteworthy that this is taking place almost exclusively in the former East Germany and may, therefore , have more to do with a totalitarian past and resulting lack of democratic traditions than with unemployment, which admittedly is rampant there.
    In regard to Tom Cruise, he wanted to film his new movie about Stauffenberg (the colonel who tried to assassinate Hitler) in a the building in which Stauffenberg planned his attempt. The building, called the Bendlerblock, today houses the defense ministry and they denied permission. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want a foreign film crew rummaging through their building. I am sure the fact that Cruise is an alien from Hubbard’s planet didn’t help any. Incidentally Stauffenberg’s grandson is horrified at the prosepect that scientologists are going to exploit his grandfather’s life to make money.

  56. #56 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    The protections of the democratic system are extended only to those political movements which agree to abide by its rules and do not actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    Here’s a radical thought: the protections of the democratic system are extended even to those movements which do not agree to abide by its rules and actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    A system that does this gains power beyond your comprehension.

  57. #57 Graculus
    June 26, 2007

    I would like to add a few points to this discussion, one being that you can also be (and people have been) prosecuted for holocaust denial in Canada under what I think is called something like the anti hate crime law.

    There has never been a law against Holocaust denial in Canada, and there has never been a case of prosecution for Holocaust denial. The denial had to be, even under the rather vague older laws, accompanied by something beyond just denial of the Holocaust.

  58. #58 Bart
    June 26, 2007

    Thanks j.t.delaney, that comment gave me a new perspective on this issue. I’ve always been against jailing people for speach alone, as it seems like too much of a slippery slope. Great, now I have to rethink my opinions again.

    As for my cute quip of the day, how can you distrust the laws of a country that created the 1516 Reinheitsgebot. This is a the beer law dictating exactly how beer should be made and served, no artificial ingredients or adjuncts!

  59. #59 Umilik
    June 26, 2007

    Graculus, I did not state that there was a law against holocaust denial specificially, but that there is legislation under which you can be prosecuted for this, Keegstra beeing an example. :I quote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial)
    In 1984, James Keegstra, a Canadian high-school teacher, was charged with denying the Holocaust and making anti-Semitic claims in his classroom as part of the course material. Keegstra and his lawyer, Doug Christie, argued that the section of the Criminal Code (now section 319{2}), is an infringement of the Charter of Rights (section 9{b}). The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was decided that the law he was convicted under did infringe on his freedom of expression, but it was a justified infringement. Keegstra was convicted, and fired from his job.

  60. #60 CL
    June 26, 2007

    The protections of the democratic system are extended only to those political movements which agree to abide by its rules and do not actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    Apparently there are some people in Germany who need to read Alexander Meiklejohn’s Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government, which quite capably takes care of this line of argument.

  61. #61 Gerard Harbison
    June 26, 2007

    There is a certain kind of jingoism that believes liberty as enshrined in the US Bill of Rights is the only kind of liberty. Of course, free speech in the US is circumscribed by laws against libel, copyright protection, laws against espionage, etc.. We tend to give more latititude to political speech at the fringes than other societies do, but I would submit that’s because we can generally afford to.

    On the other hand, in this era of ‘Extraordinary Rendition’, I don’t much feel like lecturing Europeans about human rights. You can have the most beautfiul constitution in the world, but if your government can’t enforce the liberties enshrined in that constitution, or worse, adopts policies specifically geared to denying those liberties to classes of people, then it’s just a piece of paper.

  62. #62 Graculus
    June 26, 2007

    This is a the beer law dictating exactly how beer should be made and served, no artificial ingredients or adjuncts!

    Not so fast. There’s nothing “impure” about using wheat.

    In those days there were no “artificial” ingredients. The law was partially aimed at eliminating the traditional gruit beers, because the side effects of hops (drowsines and brewer’s droop) were considered more desirable by the devout powers that be.

  63. #63 Phoenix Woman
    June 26, 2007

    From the director of This Planet Is Really Old, The Holocaust and The Moon Landing, see the summer’s best fake: 9/11!

    Man, conspiracy theorists are insane.

    They just keep slashing themselves on Occam’s Razor.

  64. #64 Graculus
    June 26, 2007

    The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was decided that the law he was convicted under did infringe on his freedom of expression, but it was a justified infringement. Keegstra was convicted, and fired from his job.

    The Keegstra case is not merely Holocaust denial, though, was it?

  65. #65 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    We tend to give more latititude to political speech at the fringes than other societies do, but I would submit that’s because we can generally afford to.

    Agreed. Your neonazis have much less chance of getting to power than ours. You should watch out about the dominionists, but even these are rather harmless, at least as long as the neocons keep them under control… :->

  66. #66 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    We tend to give more latititude to political speech at the fringes than other societies do, but I would submit that’s because we can generally afford to.

    Agreed. Your neonazis have much less chance of getting to power than ours. You should watch out about the dominionists, but even these are rather harmless, at least as long as the neocons keep them under control… :->

  67. #67 Matt Penfold
    June 26, 2007

    It is interesting that there seems to a divide between Americans and Europeans, with Americans being more upset about laws that make holocaust denial a crime. I generalise of course. There are many Europeans who not agree with such laws, and I suspect even more who think that they are not longer relevant but were at one time useful. I think that Americans sometimes forget just what Europe went through between 1914 and 1945. From 1942 America contributed directly to the fight against Nazism (and indirectly before that) but the American population did not suffer what the European populace did, and that I suspect does still have an effect of people’s views on matters like these.

  68. #68 johannes
    June 26, 2007

    Yes, Holocaust denial is forbidden in Germany. But there is a nazi mainstream in many rural areas in former east Germany, and there is an antizionist mainstream among the liberal elites and the chattering classes (not to speak of the large muslim community) in former west Germany. It might be possible to make a clear distinction between antizionism and antisemitism in theory, but the border between them becomes invariably blurred in reality.
    The real problem in Germany are not the national bolshevist nutcracks sponsored by North Korea* (well, they are a problem if you live in at small town in the former GDR) who still deny the Holocaust, but those talk show hosts who have made the Holocaust part of the cultural industry and came to the conclusion that they are better persons then anybody else in general and especially better than Israelis and Americans now, because “we have learnt and the Jews have not” (I have heard this frivolous sentence a million times or so). The former Schröder administration went as far as using the Holocaust as an excuse for making war on former Yugoslavia because it gave Germany a “special responsibility”. The ideological foundation of modern german and EU power politics no longer relies on denying the Holocaust, but on chattering about it until memory has been done to death and doesn’t mean anything anymore – or can be turned around to be (ab)used against the former victims.
    So we have a shizophrenic situation in Germany today; it is a crime to deny that dead jews have been murdered, but your taxes finance the murder of the living ones (the german goverment still sponsors Hamas with handsome subsidies).

    *The North Korean embassy is forced to deal with heroin to pay its
    water and electricity bills, so the amount of sponsoring it can do is
    somewhat limited

  69. #69 cureholder
    June 26, 2007

    In my previous post, I misspoke (or mistyped). I oppose laws that ALLOW punishing viewpoints. I wrote earlier that I oppose laws that PROHIBIT punishing viewpoints. I hope that my “standing” in the community allowed readers to correct the error themselves, but if not, I’ll make it clear. Sorry for my mistake.

  70. #70 tacitus
    June 26, 2007

    Matt, since coming to the States, I have noticed that Americans, in general, are less trusting of their government than in the U.K. and other western European nations. I’m not talking about the typical cut and thrust of partisan politics, which people from all countries tend to engage in equally, but more the underlying fear that unless citizens vigorously stand up for their constitutional rights, the government will, some day soon, take them away.

    The slippery slope argument gains much more traction here, and there is a palpable sense that people think it could well happen–if your freedoms are restricted in one small way, then there is a strong risk you will lose them all. And I think that’s reflected in the sizable “New World Order” conspiracy theory industry we have here. Yes, they are cranks, but they thrive in the US by tapping into that underlying fear that one day the government will turn against its people.

    Whether it’s just in their nature, or perhaps informed by their differing histories, but Europeans tend to be more pragmatic about such things. They just don’t see the same slippery slope Americans do. They aren’t completely oblivious to the dangers of restricting freedoms in certain ways, but they just aren’t as concerned that it will quickly and inevitably lead to something much worse.

  71. #71 skyotter
    June 26, 2007

    holocaust deniers don’t exist

    [/irony]

  72. #72 DCP
    June 26, 2007

    Caledonian wrote:

    Here’s a radical thought: the protections of the democratic system are extended even to those movements which do not agree to abide by its rules and actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    A system that does this gains power beyond your comprehension.

    First of: No I do NOT support holocaust denial laws, mainly due to the same reasons which were brought forth by Orac and a lot of other posters before.

    But concerning this very delicate issue, one has to examine the peculiar situation Germany finds itself in. You should especially consider the constitution of the Weimar Republic. This constitution extended every democratic liberty even to those groups who stated that they would abolish democracy once they are in power (i.e. the Nazis and the communists). And even though they never actually changed or abolished the Weimar constitution the Nazis simply ignored it after they rose to power.

    Now imagine you are one of the guys who are tasked to write the new Grundgesetz. You are forced by your Allied overlords to keep in touch with their denazification initiative, you’ve still got fresh memories of at least one, probably two devasting world wars and you’ve got a sour experience with your old constitution and how anti-democratic groups could so easily destroy it. It’s not to hard to understand why these laws were made in the first place, is it?

    But in this day and age these laws simply hurt more than they help and should be removed. Especially when you consider the German education system, because here it is impossible to stay in the dark about the holocaust. Almost every subject (except science classes and math) somehow touches the holocaust at some point or another.

  73. #73 T_U_T
    June 26, 2007

    I utterly fail to understand, why so many americans here think that brazen, monstruous lies are opinions and demand they should not be punished even if they potentially can cause billions of deaths. When, please, lies started being opinions ? Or do you all think that just any utterance is an opinion ( then try to scream “he’s got a bomb!!!” in a crowded tube. )

  74. #74 Baratos
    June 26, 2007

    But there is a nazi mainstream in many rural areas in former east Germany, and there is an antizionist mainstream among the liberal elites and the chattering classes (not to speak of the large muslim community) in former west Germany.

    I have noticed that most countries have a group of people who support reinstating nasty empires. We in America have pro-confederates, Russia has pro-Soviets, and Germany has neonazis. They all live in isolated areas (deep south, Siberia, and rural Germany respectively). Any other countries have these people?

  75. #75 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    Especially when you consider the German education system, because here it is impossible to stay in the dark about the holocaust.

    That’s what I’m saying: if you’ve gone through the German or Austrian education system and still deny the holocaust, you are a liar with evil intentions, and that’s what the law assumes.

    (You have national bolsheviks in Germany??? Like the Russian ones [who seem not to know anything about the history of any place and “just” are “general totalitarian extremists”]? Hard to imagine.)

  76. #76 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    Especially when you consider the German education system, because here it is impossible to stay in the dark about the holocaust.

    That’s what I’m saying: if you’ve gone through the German or Austrian education system and still deny the holocaust, you are a liar with evil intentions, and that’s what the law assumes.

    (You have national bolsheviks in Germany??? Like the Russian ones [who seem not to know anything about the history of any place and “just” are “general totalitarian extremists”]? Hard to imagine.)

  77. #77 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    Any other countries have these people?

    Well, Austria has *giggle* 2 or 3 monarchists left… I don’t think it makes sense to say they live anywhere in particular :-Þ

  78. #78 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    Any other countries have these people?

    Well, Austria has *giggle* 2 or 3 monarchists left… I don’t think it makes sense to say they live anywhere in particular :-Þ

  79. #79 Kseniya
    June 26, 2007

    cureholder: I knew what you meant. In context, it was obvious, and I suspect most readers here saw it the same way.

    Gerald:

    You can have the most beautfiul constitution in the world, but if your government can’t enforce the liberties enshrined in that constitution, or worse, adopts policies specifically geared to denying those liberties to classes of people, then it’s just a piece of paper.

    Yup. A defining feature of the Bush presidency is Dubya’s insistence that he took an oath to protect the American people, when in fact he did no such thing. He took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and in fact has done no such thing. Teach the controversy, I say.

  80. #80 bernarda
    June 26, 2007

    T_U_T, “I utterly fail to understand, why so many americans here think that brazen, monstruous lies are opinions and demand they should not be punished even if they potentially can cause billions of deaths. When, please, lies started being opinions ?”

    Maybe because they voted for George Bush?

  81. #81 AndreasB
    June 26, 2007

    Here’s a radical thought: the protections of the democratic system are extended even to those movements which do not agree to abide by its rules and actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    A system that does this gains power beyond your comprehension.

    Such a system brought Hitler to power. Apparantly it’s not a magic bullet.

    Now for some general comments for stuff that came up in the comments:

    The German Grundgesetz (“base law”) really is the constitution. They avoided naming it Verfassung (“constitution”) to symbolize its transient nature, a real constitution was supposed to be implemented for all of Germany. The separation lasted however, and when the reunification finally came, the Grundgesetz was kept as it proved itself worthy in all the decades.

    As for the definition of holocaust denial, the relevant law appears to be §130(3) StGB. Any action under the reign of National Socialism that fits the definition of genocide of the international convention is what goes under the heading of holocaust here, neither the word “holocaust” nor numbers of victims appear in the law, only a reference to the definition of genocide. What is punished is publically (or in an assemblage) approving, denying or belittling such genocide in a manner that is suitable to disturb public peace.

  82. #82 Christian
    June 26, 2007

    DCP wrote:

    But in this day and age these laws simply hurt more than they help and should be removed.

    Yes, but now that they exist it’s extremely hard to get rid of them even if, as you said, they hurt more than they help.

    Just think what can happen to the career of a politician who dares to question them let alone propose to remove them and you will understand why they’re still there and most likely will stay there for the foreseeable future.

  83. #83 windy
    June 26, 2007

    We in America have pro-confederates, Russia has pro-Soviets, and Germany has neonazis.

    I find the Russian neo-nazis more surprising. Apparently they even celebrate Hitler’s birthday. Sounds almost like the Black Klansman sketch.

  84. #84 Kseniya
    June 26, 2007

    Baratos: I generally agree, but I think you’ll find some pro-Soviet sentiment outside of Siberia, in Euorpean Russia. In Moscow, in fact. Maybe right inside the Kremlin, if you can imagine that.

  85. #85 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    In Austria, the wording is AFAIK that “making National Socialism appear harmless” is forbidden.

    They avoided naming it Verfassung (“constitution”)

    There’s still a secret service called Verfassungsschutz “constitution protection”, though.

  86. #86 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    In Austria, the wording is AFAIK that “making National Socialism appear harmless” is forbidden.

    They avoided naming it Verfassung (“constitution”)

    There’s still a secret service called Verfassungsschutz “constitution protection”, though.

  87. #87 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    To be fair, Kseniya, I don’t think Putin is a communist at all. He’s “just” nostalgic for the empire.

  88. #88 David Marjanovi?
    June 26, 2007

    To be fair, Kseniya, I don’t think Putin is a communist at all. He’s “just” nostalgic for the empire.

  89. #89 Kseniya
    June 26, 2007

    David: I agree. That’s what I meant. Pro-soviet, pro-soyuz. Sorry for my vagueness. Of course, I could offer that for all my posts. 🙂

  90. #90 Gerard Harbison
    June 26, 2007

    Bartholomew’s notes on religion has picked up the whole controversy, referencing Pharyngula, which is something that happens several times a day in the blogosphere, of course, but more importantly my blog, which never happens. 🙂

    http://blogs.salon.com/0003494/2007/06/26.html#a836

    He’s also translated some bits I didn’t get to, wherein Lerle gives his thoughts on the International Jewish Conspiracy; its tendrils are everywhere. Gosh, but that man’s a loon.

  91. #91 tony
    June 26, 2007

    Any other countries have these people?

    Every country has these people — they’re called stupid!

    (Or in the US, IDiots!)

  92. #92 Sebastian
    June 26, 2007

    Caledonian wrote:

    Here’s a radical thought: the protections of the democratic system are extended even to those movements which do not agree to abide by its rules and actively work to abolish democracy itself.

    That’s not a radical thought. The most powerful nation on this planet operates that way, and has been doing so for over 200 years. Proposing that things should be done their way is hardly an act of extreme freethought.

    We tried it that way ourselves, in fact.

    Six million jewish lives later, the people who picked up the pieces to build a new nation said, “Okay, that didn’t work out so great. How about this time we only let those guys play who don’t promise to smash democracy and institute fascism.”

    A system that does this gains power beyond your comprehension.

    Yes. It is certainly beyond my comprehension how you can baldly assert that abandoning basic safeguards against tyranny is an inherently empowering strategy for a state. The fact that America has not succumbed to fascism (yet) and has risen to become a superpower is not proof that this is an inevitable consequence of their approach to political liberty, just as the fact that the same approach in Germany led to fascism does not prove that absolute liberty leads to fascism. Two countries with different political situations, same approach, two different outcomes; what does that imply?

    Liberty and safety have always been a trade-off, and different countries in different political situations have the right to find their own balance. The framers of the German Grundgesetz chose to sacrifice certain political liberties for added security against a resurgence of fascism. It is possible that they were wrong and things would have worked out fine without that trade-off, but I do not know that this is so – and neither do you.

    Several commenters have already explained the reasoning behind the choice Germany made. You can certainly disagree with that reasoning, but you have not actually provided any reasoned argument for your disagreement – only a simple assertion that things must be done the American way. Maybe if you take the time to think about your own reasons for that conviction, you can do a better job of arguing for it.

  93. #93 j.t.delaney
    June 26, 2007

    So, let me get this straight: you support the freedom of speech until you’d be negatively affected by it, then you support restrictions of that freedom.

    Well Caledonian, I guess we can’t all have the strength of your convictions. Then again, high ideals are easy to maintain when you don’t have to test them in real life, especially on a daily basis. The rise of nationalism here in the Netherlands is more than a dry, academic debate, and pluralism really hasn’t taken firm root outside of a few cosmopolitan centers. Sure, one is oblidged to defend grandma’s and grandpa’s allegiances during the war to any English speaking tourists, but when you get to my neighborhood and start talking to people in Dutch, you find a number of people remarkably comfortable with a family tree full of collaborators.

    Trust me, when you’re visibly darker than the prevailing phenotype, and speak the local language with a funny, hard-to-place accent, and live in a neighborhood with a sizeable number of jobless, alcoholic hooligans, and have a small child that isn’t even remotely blonde and blue-eyed… well, you start to get some funny ideas about the limits of free speech. Yeah, I guess I’m kooky that way, but there you go. We can’t all be high-minded anonymous libertarian geniuses on the interwebs, I guess. [sigh…] When will we ever learn?

    Sure, maybe some German conspiracy nuts are philosophically emboldened by a ban, and maybe a lifting of the ban on holocaust denialism would permit some German educators the chance to “teach the controversy” (by jingo, look how great that strategem is working in America!!!) However, I really don’t think Germany would benefit from “reframing the issue” on this one, and the vast, vast majority of Germans I’ve met (i.e. all of them thus far) would agree.

    Didn’t you once live in America? Couldn’t you do so again? And if you did, wouldn’t you still support restricting freedom of speech?

    Stay in Europe, kthnx.

    Aw, how precious (in a blatantly unaware kind of way.) Yeah, you wouldn’t want somebody like myself moving back home and participating in the sanctified business of serious American political discourse, tainting its lily-white purity wih seditious ideas. Egads, why judging from the opinions I’ve expressed, I just might not be interested in participating in a sober, level-headed debate about denying the holocaust! No, no, no, it’s better not to have my kind around, mucking the place up with that kind of talk…

    I dare say, you ought to try living here sometime before you pontificate so. From your comments about the popularity of nazism in Germany, I don’t think you know the first thing about daily life in Europe. Like it or not, occasionally there are legitimate reasons to limit speech. For a lot of historical/cultural reasons, denial of the holocaust in modern Germany really does rightfully belong in the same category as fraud, libel, inciting a riot, and treason. You may feel that Germans are woefully being limited in their ability to participate in rational discourse, but guess what: denying the holocaust isn’t exactly the basis of a normal, everyday conversation in Germany — or anywhere else. In fact, it’s not on the political agenda, and that’s the way the vast majority of Germans like it. Maybe they’ll all wake up some day and see things your way, but don’t hold your breath.

  94. #94 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    Trust me, when you’re visibly darker than the prevailing phenotype, and speak the local language with a funny, hard-to-place accent, and live in a neighborhood with a sizeable number of jobless, alcoholic hooligans, and have a small child that isn’t even remotely blonde and blue-eyed… well, you start to get some funny ideas about the limits of free speech.

    Let me restate that more succintly: you’re frightened, and so you want to make yourself safer by fiat.

    “Those who sacrifice a little freedom for a little security will have none and deserve neither.”

  95. #95 bernarda
    June 26, 2007

    sebastian, “The fact that America has not succumbed to fascism (yet) and has risen to become a superpower is not proof that this is an inevitable consequence of their approach to political liberty, just as the fact that the same approach in Germany led to fascism does not prove that absolute liberty leads to fascism. Two countries with different political situations, same approach, two different outcomes; what does that imply?”

    “Yet” is well put. But with the little known or discussed, at least in the MSM, Military Commissions Act, the U.S. is not far. Well, I would say that legally it is already there. Already the Patriot Act has been compared to Hitler’s Enabling Act. The Military Commissions Act goes even further.

    Then there are the Presidential “signing statements”, which suspend any parts of law our fuhrer doesn’t like.

  96. #96 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    I dare say, you ought to try living here sometime before you pontificate so.

    I’ve lived in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and I currently reside smack dab in the middle of Pennsyltucky. You want to know what uncomfortable is, Mr. “I have dark skin and am uncomfortable in the tolerant Netherlands”? Try living here some time.

  97. #97 Mrs Tilton
    June 26, 2007

    Grundgesetz 130 (3), (literally translated as basic law) is in effect part of the German Constitution.

    If you will allow me to be pedantic here, Gerard, this is wrong. Art. 130(3) GG is an obscure bit of administrative law. You are thinking of § 130(3) StGB, which is not the constitution but the criminal code.

    BTW, nobody in Europe bar a few lunatic-fringe websites (that I found linked only by US websites) views this guy as a ‘Christian martyr’. If they’ve heard of him at all (which is unlikely, as this really isn’t in the news here), they’d view him, I daresay, as an obnoxious prick who has been given his just desserts. In fact, I’d be willing to bet a small sum that most other Lutheran pastors in Germany see him that way.

  98. #98 DCP
    June 26, 2007

    Sometimes I’m baffled by some people’s “All or nothing” approach.

    Yes, the particular law which makes holocaust denial illegal is stupid in this age, (and it’s pretty hard to get remove at this point, as Christian already pointed out.) but it fail to see why it’s such a problem, apart from making denial a “forbidden fruit”. It doesn’t demolish the rest of your civil liberties, you know.

    And furthermore it wasn’t implemented just yesterday, thus Germany is in no danger to get more speech restricting laws anytime soon. So calm down…

    Oh and by the way, keep in mind that we’re living in the age of the world wide web. Free speech restrictions are hardly an issue here.

  99. #99 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    Oh and by the way, keep in mind that we’re living in the age of the world wide web. Free speech restrictions are hardly an issue here.

    Tell that to China, or Saudi Arabia, or half the countries in Southeast Asia.

  100. #100 DCP
    June 26, 2007

    Caledonian wrote:

    Tell that to China, or Saudi Arabia, or half the countries in Southeast Asia.

    I guess the people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) know it already, thank you very much.

    But seriously, maybe I should elaborate a bit:

    Oh and by the way, keep in mind that we’re living in the age of the world wide web. Free speech restrictions are hardly an issue here.

    I hope this emphasizes that I specifically refer to the place where I live, and where Internet access is wide-spread and can be used to circumvent any free speech restrictions.

    Would you mind telling me exactly why you are so upset about the holocaust denial law, Caledonian?

  101. #101 Andrew Wade
    June 26, 2007

    “Those who sacrifice a little freedom for a little security will have none and deserve neither.”

    Uh huh. That (mis)quote pisses me off. Those who would sacrifice essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety may be acting foolishly, but they hardly deserve a lack of liberty and security. As for the assertion that they “will have none”, that’s just plain stupid. The citizens of the United States have sacrificed the liberty of using many psychoactive substances upon themselves, (though that may have more to do with puritanism than security), yet can hardly be characterized as having no liberty or security.

  102. #102 Caledonian
    June 26, 2007

    You may disagree with the sentiment, but it’s not a misquote.

    As for your point – take a look at what’s been done in the name of the War on Drugs, and tell me again that we’re not in the process of losing our liberty and security.

  103. #103 Andrew Wade
    June 26, 2007

    You may disagree with the sentiment, but it’s not a misquote.

    All right, I’m game. Who said that? When? Where? It’s not what the Pennsylvania Assembly wrote to the Governor in 1775. And nothing like that quote appears in either of Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural addresses. There are many variations of the statement commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but most of them are probably of modern origin.

    As for your point – take a look at what’s been done in the name of the War on Drugs, and tell me again that we’re not in the process of losing our liberty and security.

    I won’t dispute that. But while the United States is in a scary place politically and socially, you’ve got quite a way still to go to reach fascism or its like (Alberto Gonzales aside). More to the point, an entire generation has been born, grown up, and died since the start of drug prohibition in the United States. It’s a bit late for them to receive their promised no freedom and no security. (Although, to be fair, many of them were drafted).

  104. #104 johannes
    June 27, 2007

    (You have national bolsheviks in Germany??? Like the Russian ones [who seem not to know anything about the history of any place and “just” are “general totalitarian extremists”]? Hard to imagine.)

    David,

    I used the term national bolshevism as a description of the East German right-wing subculture because its ideology is a mix of nationalism, xenophobia, antiimperialism and nostalgia for the communist past, and those members who pass as intellectuals in this circles like to quote the likes of Codreanu, Niekisch, Radek and Strasser and other such “national bolshevists” or “conservative revolutionaries” of the interwar years, who advocated a “Querfront”, i.E. an alliance between the extreme left and the extreme right, back in the twenties. Any similarity between those people and the strange “national bolshevik” party in Russia seems to be superficial.

  105. #105 Gerard Harbison
    June 27, 2007

    If you will allow me to be pedantic here, Gerard, this is wrong. Art. 130(3) GG is an obscure bit of administrative law. You are thinking of § 130(3) StGB, which is not the constitution but the criminal code.

    I stand corrected. I lived there for a while, and can make a fair stab at translating German, but wouldn’t want to pass myself as anything else.

    ‘brusselsjournal.com’ tries to pass itself off as an authoritative conservative website. So it’s not?

  106. #106 Gerard Harbison
    June 27, 2007

    If you will allow me to be pedantic here, Gerard, this is wrong. Art. 130(3) GG is an obscure bit of administrative law. You are thinking of § 130(3) StGB, which is not the constitution but the criminal code.

    I stand corrected. I lived there for a while, and can make a fair stab at translating German, but wouldn’t want to represent myself as anything else, least of all a lawyer.

    ‘brusselsjournal.com’ tries to pass itself off as an authoritative conservative website. So it’s not?

  107. #107 Satoris
    June 27, 2007

    Orac,
    Thanks for pointing out the lack of an actual law in the United States about shouting ‘Fire’ in a theater, however it is you who are full of shit, not me.

    To dismiss the holocaust denial laws in Germany out of hand smacks of incredible insolence and ignores 100 years of history. If you have read the other posts in this thread, you understand where they came from. Currently, Germany, as well as most of the rest of Europe, still enjoys greater freedom of speech than the US. Where was all the support from the US for freedom of speech during the Mohamed cartoon riots last year? Many European countries, including Germany, re-published the cartoons as a show of support for this idea, while the US shut the hell up and stayed out. I think people like you are all for the IDEA of freedom of speech until you have to actually do something risky to prove it.

  108. #108 David Marjanovi?
    June 27, 2007

    Sometimes I’m baffled by some people’s “All or nothing” approach.

    Some people believe in slippery slopes. Apparently Caledonian is one of them.

    I think some slopes are slippery, and some aren’t.

    Hey, look, o truest of Scotsmen. So we’ve had these laws in place ever since WWII. What has happened? Have any other freedoms been taken away? Are we back at the very totalitarianism the mentioned laws are meant to protect us from?

    You are living in the place that doesn’t even vote in ink on paper and where some courts have the mind-boggling right to stop the counting* of votes, not we.

    * Oh, so it’s “just” recounting? If you count 10 times, and you don’t get the same result 10 times, you have a problem.

  109. #109 David Marjanovi?
    June 27, 2007

    Sometimes I’m baffled by some people’s “All or nothing” approach.

    Some people believe in slippery slopes. Apparently Caledonian is one of them.

    I think some slopes are slippery, and some aren’t.

    Hey, look, o truest of Scotsmen. So we’ve had these laws in place ever since WWII. What has happened? Have any other freedoms been taken away? Are we back at the very totalitarianism the mentioned laws are meant to protect us from?

    You are living in the place that doesn’t even vote in ink on paper and where some courts have the mind-boggling right to stop the counting* of votes, not we.

    * Oh, so it’s “just” recounting? If you count 10 times, and you don’t get the same result 10 times, you have a problem.

  110. #110 bernarda
    June 27, 2007

    Oh, so the U.S. is not fascist. Really?

    No one seems to be interested in the Military Commissions Act which is coming up for another vote. This is a fascist law.

    “The Act also suggests that unlawful enemy combatant refers to any person

    who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

    Some commentators have interpreted this to mean that if the President says you are an enemy combatant, then you effectively are.[26]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Commissions_Act_of_2006

    The fascist Bush regime has enacted a law that eliminates habeus corpus and is ex post facto. The final, even initial, arbiter is our Fuhrer Bush.

    Do you expect the Supreme Court with a guy like Scalia who thinks that “24” with Jack Bauer is a documentary to do anything about it?

    Also, do a search on “national security state” to see how far things have gone.

  111. #111 j.t.delaney
    June 28, 2007

    If brusselsjournal.com is “authoritative conservative”, then so is “godhatesfags.com”. They’re closely tied with the far-right Belgian political party “Vlaams Belang” (“Flemish Interest”), that wants Flanders to break away from Belgium. Its content is a collection of news articles written by several European bloggers of a certain political persuasion: staunchly anti-EU, anti-civil rights, and most of all, anti-immigrant (boy, do they hate us!!!) Because of the polished appearance, and the fact that they string stories that affirm the neo-con worldview, their content is frequently picked up by American conservative news sources, shown as proof how European social policies are doomed to failure.

  112. #112 Andrew Wade
    June 29, 2007

    Oh, so the U.S. is not fascist. Really?

    Really. The personality cult around Dubya has been in decline for a while, the elections haven’t reach the level of farce–yet, and you still have freedom of speech. I’d like to say you haven’t had brownshirts on your streets, but you have had some local militias engaging in domestic terrorism. They’re not exactly analogous to the SA–they’re not owned by the Republican party—but that’s a quibble. Oh and the propagandists are somewhat independent of the government. (Bush doesn’t seem to be very popular with CNN lately, but depressingly it seems to be because he’s not xenophobic enough for Lou Dobbs.)

    No one seems to be interested in the Military Commissions Act which is coming up for another vote. This is a fascist law.

    I won’t argue that.

    The fascist Bush regime has enacted a law that eliminates habeus corpus …

    … for aliens …

    … and is ex post facto. The final, even initial, arbiter is our Fuhrer Bush.

    Yeah, pretty much. All that’s required for you to rot in gulag is for you to be an alien, and for the Secretary of Defense’s pet kangaroo court to determine you’re an “unlawful enemy combatant”–he gets to make up the rules for that tribunal. All the fine (spit) regulations for military commissions are irrelevant if the Secretary of Defense isn’t required to bring you before one–and he’s not as far as I can see.

  113. #113 johannes
    June 30, 2007

    > Oh, so the U.S. is not fascist. Really?

    Really. Many people use “fascism” or “fascist” as a mere perjorative term for their political enemies, but fascism is an ideology, like socialism, communism, liberalism or whatever.

    It is not a generic term for being conservative, or nasty, or authoritarian or being hard on external enemies (don’t be confused by the idea that liberal democracies are somewhat “softer” than other regimes: most authoritarian and totalitarian states are thoroughly beaten up if they mess with a liberal democracy. The fate of imperial Germany and Austria in WWI and of Japan in WWII are but two examples. Finland, with a population of perhaps 4 millions, fought the Soviet Union to a standstill in 1939). If a term is used inflationary, it becomes meaningless.

    Neither all dictatorial regimes are fascist, nor are all right-wing dictatorships. Pinochet was a true dictator, and a right-winger if there ever was one, but he wasn’t a fascist.
    Stalinism was in many terms the harshest form of dictatorship mankind has ever seen, but it wasn’t fascist, nor are traditional absolutist monarchies.

    The international laws that deny mercenaries the rights combatants enjoy under the geneva convention were codified by an UN majority of left leaning third world states in the sixties and seventies. Many of those regimes were dictatorships, but you would have been ripped apart if you had dared to call them “fascist” in contemporary progressive circles.

    True fascim needs a mass movement, pseudo-revolutionary paraphernalia and anticapitalist rethoric to hide a reactionary core, an one party system, state run trade unions, paramilitary forces like the SS or the MSVN to counterweight the regular military (wich could be potentially dangerous for the regime) to name but a few fascist traits.

    Nothing of this is present in the US.

  114. #114 romunov
    July 3, 2007

    If he denies the holocaust, and everything, or most of the things he says, are untrue anyway – WHY jail the poor sob? Truth needs no law to support it, right?

  115. #115 johannes
    July 10, 2007

    > or the MSVN

    Oops, I have mistyped. The guys who did the running at Guadalajara are actually spelled MVSN.

    > You have national bolsheviks in Germany??? Like the Russian ones

    Yep. See here: http://www.kds-im-netz.de/. But see at your own peril, these are hardcore idiots. This is the official brother party of the russian one, according to german wikipedia. For an especially absurd example of their propaganda, see here:
    http://www.kds-im-netz.de/kanal/2003/apr_2003.htm
    For those who don’t speak German: The author wonders how his idol Saddam lost Bagdad after “winning all the battles during the first 17 days of the war”, “victoriously evacuating” his troops from all the large cities …

  116. #116 Hektor
    November 22, 2007

    “…the Auschwitz camp is a fake, etc…” – I’m pretty sure Dr. Lerle never made a statement like this. So it’s save to say that Mr Myers is a liar. Furthermore:
    “…millions weren’t killed in the death camps…” Well the official Auschwitz death toll has been reduced by a couple of millions. Not that they can prove the new figure either, but it shows that even they are not really believing what they are saying.

    More on the case (in German):
    http://www.kreuz.net/?article=6230&id=2342

  117. #117 Bob grubman
    November 22, 2007

    Before engaging in an argumant, it’s always wise to understand just what the argument is about!

    Here is a link to the revisionist position on so-called ‘holocaust denial’ …

    http://www.germarrudolf.com/Denial.html

    Fascinating subject!

    On the subject of jailing and/or financially ruining people for holding and discussing their unpopular, non-violent views…

    It’s just plain wrong.

    Period.

    A wiser man than I once said; “freedom of speech is the freedom to offend”…

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