Pharyngula

A rather unsavory character, Dr Johannes Lerle, was jailed in Germany for violating their laws against neo-Nazism and Holocaust denial. I discussed this earlier this week, and as
Gerard Harbison and Andrew Brown have recently pointed out, he was not a very nice man at all…a bit of a kook, really.

Dr Lerle is an unabashed and deeply anti-semitic holocaust denier. He takes the view that the only good Jew is a Christian convert. All others are children of the devil: “Jews” with scare quotes round them, to distinguish them from Christians. Those “Jews”, his website explains, control the world’s press, and the American government, are murderers, hypocrites, liars and bent on world domination for religious reasons. All this and more is on his website but it’s in German – a language few Americans read.

Now here’s the weird twist and the reason I’m mentioning it here: Bill Dembski claims that this is an instance of the persecution of an Intelligent Design advocate. Even more confusingly, Dembski leapt to this conclusion because he heard that Lerle had been jailed for being against abortion. There’s nothing there about evolution or Intelligent Design — it’s all an anti-Semitic rant that babbles on about stopping abortions.

That’s an oddly convoluted leap of logic from Dembski that I don’t understand. Are we to assume that if a religious loon hates Jews and considers abortion and birth control to be anti-Christian conspiracies that will allow the hordes of Islam to overrun the country, he must also be a fellow traveler with the Intelligent Design creationists? Are these fairly common tenets among the fellows of the Discovery Institute? Where does he come up with the idea that this rather ugly story implies that teaching ID is a crime against humanity?

I don’t see the connection. I’ll be charitable and assume that his martyr complex is simply and generically inflamed so that whenever he sees anyone getting arrested, he takes it personally.

Just a hint, Bill—it would have been funnier if you’d gotten upset at Paris Hilton’s imprisonment as representative of the persecution of creationists. Lerle…not funny. More than a little unpleasant, actually, and not the kind of frothing rabid religious fanatic you really want associated with your cause, I don’t think. Although, say, how’s Howard Ahmanson doing?

Comments

  1. #1 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    I’m sure Dembski leapt to that conclusion because he assumed that someone holding religious, pseudoscientific beliefs would–by definition–also accept creationism. I have to admit he’s probably correct about that one.

  2. #2 Mrs Tilton, FCD
    June 29, 2007

    Who’d have ever cared about Johannes Lerle if Dembski hadn’t defended him?

    Why, the freepers, of course! And without looking, I’d have to imagine Lerle’s stock is pretty high at Westboro Baptist Church.

    BTW, Leon: you’re almost certainly right. But even so, as PZ pointed out when he first wrote about this miscreant, nobody in his right mind, least of all PZ himself, would argue this toad belongs in jail for believing in ID creationism.

    (Apologies to all the toads out there.)

  3. #3 Bert Chadick
    June 29, 2007

    Since you brought up Paris Hilton, she is reading the Bible now. Can a visit to the DI be next?

  4. #4 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    I agree. And I agree with PZ that it’s not right to make it illegal to believe the Holocaust is a hoax–or for believing anything else, for that matter. Given the cross that Germany bears for the Nazi period I’m not surprised they would enact something like that, but I think it’s really overkill–and an abuse of civil liberties at the same time.

  5. #5 Dutch Vigilante
    June 29, 2007

    A creationist kook… what a bloody suprise.

  6. #6 Chayanov
    June 29, 2007

    What’s really interesting are the comments to Dembski, where they either deny that Lerle is a Holocaust denier, or they say that Lerle isn’t the point, but rather that Europe is trying to make it illegal to deny evolution. The “head in the sand” attitude of Dembski’s sycophants is truly disturbing to see.

  7. #7 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    Is there any other kind? 😉

  8. #8 Graculus
    June 29, 2007

    IIRC, it’s not illegal in Germany to think that the Holocaust was a hoax, or even to say it… just not in public. I don’t particularly agree, but it’s not really a thought crime law, it’s more like a libel law.

  9. #9 Dutch Vigilante
    June 29, 2007

    well, there are the anti-Semitic, holocaust denying, abortion opposing, paranoid and completely batshit insane creationist kook…

  10. #10 RamblinDude
    June 29, 2007

    Are we to assume that if a religious loon hates Jews and considers abortion and birth control to be anti-Christian conspiracies that will allow the hordes of Islam to overrun the country, he must also be a fellow traveler with the Intelligent Design creationists?

    well, duh… : )

  11. #11 daenku32
    June 29, 2007

    I know liberty as we know it includes the right to spout nonsense, but is this legal right upheld specifically by the religious freedom clause (at least here in the US)? What other enumerated right allows you to spout false claims about reality? What other purpose could the religious freedom clause really serve?

    That said, I do understand that the government itself can only on occasion tell reality apart from fantasy, so the clause should in that case protect the purely “materialist” scientist as well if the government, and the law, begins to pretend that some creationist fantasy is actually the reality.

  12. #12 TheJerrylander
    June 29, 2007

    This law is actually part of a paragraph (§130) of the German penal code, dealing with sedition and incitement of public disorder.
    The part concerning holocaust denial specifically states that the public denial, support or trivialization of the holocaust in a manner fit to cause a disturbance of the public peace(?) is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or fine.

    Thus, you are perfectly free to think whatever you want… it turns criminal when you start to articualte your ideas publicly in such a way that might cause unrest. While this is certainly a limit on free speech, it is, nonetheless, just one of several statutes that limit the free public expression of thoughts in regards to sedition. Given that Germany prepetrated the Holocaust, it was an important piece of legislation helping to ensure the transition of Germany from dictatorship to democracy.

  13. #13 N.Wells
    June 29, 2007

    Hey, if evolution-denialist Dr. Dr. Dembski wishes to ally ID with holocaust-denialists (along with pleasurians, deluded brain surgeons, and miscellaneous intestinal degassings), far be it from me to object.

  14. #14 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    Thanks for the clarification, JerryLander. That makes a lot more sense now.

  15. #15 hf
    June 29, 2007

    Apparently he read an article that mentioned a proposed anti-creationist resolution in the next sentence. I don’t know why “The Brussels Journal” lumped them together. Looks like Dembski didn’t read it carefully.

    Incidentally, while you could make a case that Germany once needed the law and nobody could refute you, I doubt they’d fall to the neo-Nazi hordes if they repealed it today.

  16. #16 JJR
    June 29, 2007

    “…it was an important piece of legislation helping to ensure the transition of Germany from dictatorship to democracy.”

    But surely that transition is complete, or?
    And for Austria, too, I imagine.

    What I dislike about this legislation it allows fascist creeps like David Irving to play the role of “Free Speech Martyr”…

    Maybe in the late 1940s or through the 1950s these kinds of laws made sense, but from the 1960s onward? Not sure I’m convinced these laws are necessary anymore, if they ever were. The public shame & ridicule ought to be enough, nowadays.

  17. #17 TheJerrylander
    June 29, 2007

    I am pretty sure that doing away with the special provision regarding denial of the Holocaust would not endanger the democratic foundations of the Federal Republic of Germany, yet the act of repealing the law would probably send a pretty strong political message itself, cause much stir and probably be proclaimed as a victory by neo-nazis. Plus, it is not a controversial civil rights issue in Germany, at all (discounting the neo-nazis, who—of course—crow; but as their goal is the overthrow of the current political system, they are not the most credible proponents of free speech).

    So, I guess, better just leave it be the way it is right now.

  18. #18 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    JJR – You would think. The law does appear to be overkill today, or at best should fall under the “dead letter law” category.

    On the note of shame and ridicule, though, it’s too bad that doesn’t keep Dembski and the others out of the creationist business.

  19. #19 TheJerrylander
    June 29, 2007

    Thinking about it a little more, there might be another point in keeping the law. From a decidedly western German perspective, I would argue that the resurgence of neo-nazism in—mostly—the eastern, formerly socialist, part of Germany, and an incredible abundance of gullible people in general (not just in eastern Germany) might be indicative that the time might just not be right to go ahead and specifically remove the Holocaust proviso form the sedition paragraph… just a thought.

  20. #20 Leon
    June 29, 2007

    Good points, Jerrylander. You may well be right there.

    I’d say I’m just glad I don’t have that problem in my country, but the US has plenty of its own stupidity going on right now.

  21. #21 John Danley
    June 29, 2007

    Nice little Dembski blog: Scroll down…

    http://thestubborncurmudgeon.blogspot.com

  22. #22 Samnell
    June 29, 2007

    “That’s an oddly convoluted leap of logic from Dembski that I don’t understand. Are we to assume that if a religious loon hates Jews and considers abortion and birth control to be anti-Christian conspiracies that will allow the hordes of Islam to overrun the country, he must also be a fellow traveler with the Intelligent Design creationists? Are these fairly common tenets among the fellows of the Discovery Institute?”

    Obviously. I don’t know about Holocaust denial, but I have trouble picturing an IDist who wouldn’t believe the rest.

  23. #23 cbutterb
    June 30, 2007

    The problem is, of course, almost any inflammatory or controversial speech could be conceived of as slander against someone. I’ve encountered this before as a reason to ban (via Constitutional Amendment!) flag desecration in the U.S.: If you burn a flag, it allegedly somehow exceeds the bounds of mere expression of opinion and becomes a spectacle so heinous and personally insulting that veterans can’t possibly be expected to withstand the sight of it. The symbolic act becomes slander independently of the actual content or intent of the speech, based solely on the perceptions of those it offends.

    Reasoning this way, it’s not hard to imagine a chilling effect on speakers such as, say, Richard Dawkins: Why, think of all the saints and martyrs he’s implicitly slandered, what with his impudent talk that they died for a delusion!

  24. #24 Graculus
    June 30, 2007

    Why, think of all the saints and martyrs he’s implicitly slandered, what with his impudent talk that they died for a delusion!

    Holocaust denial is explicit, not implicit.

  25. #25 autumn
    June 30, 2007

    Seems to me that the German law is similar to our own interpretations of the First Amendment. I can stand on a street corner and yell “Somebody please [insert nefarious crime/assasination]” all I want. The prosecutor would have to prove an immeadiate and causal relationship with the crime and my yelling. The situation is changed if I (or “any resonable person”) should expect that my speech has authority, e.g., if I am religious leader who expects and recieves obiediance from my followers.
    An Imam standing on a sidewalk shouting for jihad is very different than an Imam in his Mosque shouting for jihad.

  26. #26 Tsjok45
    June 30, 2007

    ” I don’t know why “The Brussels Journal” lumped them together.”

    I do
    The “Brussels Journal” is the internet outlet of a bunch of lunatic extremists of European right wing nationalists …
    Indeed , many of them ARE
    creationists , radical christians ,desillusioned socialists , macho , racist and anti-science kooks …
    longing for some form of totalitarism …
    Don’t think that the European situation is any better than elsewere
    Many of these people want to return to obscurantism and theocracy : stupid people seem to be an “evolutionary succes ” : there are so many of them

    …European Morons are perfectly “happy” people( and are very paranoid, chauvinistic and xenofobic regarding for exemple islam and stereotyped jews ) who call themselves pragmatic : they know nothing else but conformism and lean on supernaturalistic babble and con-artistry …

  27. #27 hf
    June 30, 2007

    [on slander] Holocaust denial is explicit, not implicit.

    I’m fairly sure that doesn’t work as a general rule. Certainly the article I saw about this guy said that at most he logically implied a falsely small number of deaths, without actually stating it and without directly accusing anyone of lying.

    I get the impression that holocaust deniers, like climate change deniers, usually talk about alleged uncertainty. They can work by throwing out tons of questions. See here for details.

  28. #28 hf
    June 30, 2007

    Before I leave, you should also read this other post from the site I linked.

  29. #29 Paholaisen Asianajaja
    June 30, 2007

    I was somewhat surprised to learn the full extent of christian influence on the history of anti-semitism. I managed to get a hold of Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, by theist Rosemary Radford Ruether (1974). Johannes Lerle is repeating old anti-Jew lines from ye Ol’ Church. Nothing new under the Sun.

  30. #30 Sam t'C
    June 30, 2007

    It’s not just the creationists, all these right-wing loonies assume that every nasty bastard is being persecuted for standing up for all the things that they would approve of.

    That barrel of loony laughs, Conservapedia, has a really cracking entry on Scotland; a large portion of the text is about homosexuality and whether Scotsmen wearing kilts are actually cross-dressing poofs. At one point, they say that pro-Christian chants are banned at fitba’ matches, which is linked to a BBC news article saying that anti-gay chanting is banned as its main point, saying also that this is in addition to existing bans on racist and sectarian (i.e. anti-christian) chants!

    (And being oh-so-slightly-stupid, the Conversapedophiles haven’t even picked up the naughty reference about pocket billiards, but that’s another issue.)

    These sick people lie, lie and lie, they just can’t and won’t stop themselves. Their guiding principle is never to let the truth stand in the path of The Truth!

  31. #31 cbutterb
    June 30, 2007

    Holocaust denial is explicit, not implicit.

    No, not with respect to the alleged defamation of Holocaust survivors and the families of victims. If a hypothetical denier made, say, some (erroneous) factual claim about the limited capacity of a particular concentration camp, but mentioned no particular individuals, the alleged defamation against the general class of persons who are victims is implicit.

  32. #32 truthmakesfree
    June 30, 2007

    These sick people lie, lie and lie, they just can’t and won’t stop themselves. Their guiding principle is never to let the truth stand in the path of The Truth!

    This is not directly on the topic of the thread, but when I saw the “lie, lie and lie” comment re: Conservapedophiles it touched off my anger this week about Ann Coulter on Hardball.

    MSNBC spent the week making a huge deal about how Ann Coulter crossed a line when she said something about John Edwards. That makes it seem like the rest of the time what she’s saying is not over the line. But Godless is cover-to-cover lies–much involving evolution.

    Now that I think of it, this is not really off-topic for this thread. Coulter tells her readers, for example that liberals celebrate abortion as their “holiest sacrament,” and that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports evolution, but that the establishment of liberal scientists lies to the public about the evidence in order to promote the atheist religion that is celebrating abortion as a sacrament.

    So I guess it really is the same kind of ungodly stew that combines anti-semitism with creationism.

  33. #33 Thony C.
    June 30, 2007

    It might help to know that Johannes Lerle, who to my shame comes from the town that I call my home, has a very long court record of prosecutions for slander and libel in connection with his virulent anti-abortion campaigning. The article of German law under which he was prosecuted this time is a form of extended libel law and therefore the prison sentence repeated offence! Although his two main forms of insanity are anti-abortion and sex education, he’s against it, he does actually make several anti-evolution and pro-creation comments in passing in his virtually unreadable polemic postings in the internet.

  34. #34 Mrs Tilton, FCD
    June 30, 2007

    Thony,

    agreed, and that is all much clearer when one reads the original German sources. The important thing, though, is that Lerle is not being persecuted because he is a Christian, nor because he is a creationist. (Indeed, if that were why Lerle was jailed, I’d expect we’ll see Hessia’s education minister clapped into irons any day now.)

    Like any good neonazi, Lerle was jailed for denying the Holocaust. I tend to agree with PZ that what Lerle did should not be punishable under German law, but given that German law is what it is, it’s a fair cop.

  35. #35 June
    June 30, 2007

    Lerle did not deny the Holocaust, at least not in the writings for which he was indicted. At best, he insulted the German government by comparing it to the nazi regime, saying that abortions are a government-sanctioned taking of life just like the taking of Jewish life during the Holocaust. Many are puzzled as to how this denies the Holocaust or praises the nazis. Lerle also makes the valid point that nobody really knows what is meant by “the Holocaust” in terms of precise numbers, so it is hard to tell what can/not be legally denied.

    Under German law, an insult is not a crime, so German courts typically use Volksverhetzung (inciting the populace) to punish contempt for government, courts, corporations, or powerful professions. Those much-mentioned prior convictions of Lerle were for calling abortion doctors names like “professional killers” and referring to the Babycaust. Volksverhetzung is a nasty law that can ensnare anyone in the world who publishes anything that reaches German soil. So let’s all ease up on those German jokes — and never use your passport names in blog comments (or forget going to the Oktoberfest)!

    And now there is a new push to extend these laws to other countries of the European Union AND to include other forbidden topics such as Creationism and Intelligent Design. That is what Dembski was concerned about, in case you are still confused, PZ.

  36. #36 Mrs Tilton, FCD
    June 30, 2007

    Under German law, an insult is not a crime

    Really, June? In that case, I’d be delighted if you would explain to me the following article of the German criminal code:

    § 185 Beleidigung

    Die Beleidigung wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu einem Jahr oder mit Geldstrafe und, wenn die Beleidigung mittels einer Tätlichkeit begangen wird, mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu zwei Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.

    Someone as familiar with German law as yourself won’t need a translation, of course, but for those reading along at home this may be Englished as:

    ‘Sec. 185 Insult

    ‘An insult is punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or a monetary penalty and, if the insult is made by means of a violent act, with imprisonment of up to two years or a monetary penalty.’

    Now, you were saying?

    Whether you are merely stupid and ill-informed like Dembski or an outright anti-Semite and nazi sympathiser like Lerle I cannot say. But the answer is not, in the end, very important, so long as you toddle off with your profound knowledge of German law and pollute some other, more suitable website. You’d be just fabulous at Free Republic, why don’t you try there?

  37. #37 Graculus
    June 30, 2007

    his may be Englished as:

    However, it does not translate to “insult” in the usual contemporary sense, and may be Englished as “defamation” and “assault” as well. It’s not a word that translates exactly, but more archaic Englsih uses of “insult” seem closer.

  38. #38 Mrs Tilton
    June 30, 2007

    Furthermore, June:

    Lerle did not deny the Holocaust…. Many are puzzled as to how this denies the Holocaust or praises the nazis.

    You might be puzzled, but if so, only because you cannot read German, or are lying. Here are some quotations from Lerle’s own website (to which PZ links above):

    Warum griff Amerika in den Zweiten Weltkrieg ein? Die “jüdisch” beherrschten Propagandamedien wiesen auf die Hitlerverbrechen hin und hetzten für einen Kreuzzug an der Seite Stalins für Demokratie und für Glaubensfreiheit. Warum kämpfte Amerika nicht zusammen mit Hitler gegen Stalin? … Auch war Stalin im Unterschied zu Hitler nicht demokratisch legitimiert…. Doch derartige Tatsachen wurden damals in der vom Welt”judentum” kontrollierten Hetzpresse verschwiegen

    ‘Why did America get involved in WWII? The “Jewish”-controlled propaganda media decried Hitler’s crimes and stoked up a hate-campaign for a crusade on Stalin’s side for “democracy” and “freedom of conscience”. Why didn’t America fight together with Hitler against Stalin? … Unlike Hitler, Stalin had not been democratically legitimatised…. But facts like these were silenced by the hate-press, controlled by world “Jewry”.’

    Wie erfolgreich die “Juden” in ihrem religiös motivierten Streben nach der Weltherrschaft sind, zeigt sich auch in dem Verhängen der vielen Gefängnisstrafen wegen Verharmlosung oder Leugnung des nationalsozialistischen Völkermordes (§ 130, Abs. 2 StGB). Wenn aber jemand die bolschewistischen Verbrechen in der Sowjetunion oder bei der “Befreiung” Deutschlands und die Kriegs- und Nachkriegsverbrechen unserer jetzigen amerikanischen “Freunde” leugnet, so interessiert das keinen Staatsanwalt.

    ‘We can see how successful the ‘Jews’ have been in their religiously-motivated campaign for world domination in the many prison sentences given for downplaying or denying the nazi genocide (Sec. 130(2) Crimianl Code). But if anybody denies the crimes of the bolsheviks in the Soviet Union or during the “liberation” of Germany, or of our American “friends” during and after the war, no prosecutor is interested.’

    Die Leugnung [des Holocausts] zu bestrafen, bedeutet, Menschen wegen Verbreitung eines politisch unkorrekten Geschichtsbildes einzusperren. Es kann doch nicht bestritten werden, daß unsere bisherigen Auffassungen über die Nazis mit handfesten Lügen durchsetzt sind.

    ‘To penalise [Holocaust] denial is to imprison people for spreading a politically incorrect view of history. But it cannot be denied that views of the nazis till now have been filled with outright lies.’

    And Lerle freely borrows from American death-penalty technician and Holocaust denialist Fred Leuchter:

    Bei der unvorstellbar großen Zahl von vier Millionen stellt sich nämlich die Frage, wie diese Zahl mit manchen Naturgesetzen (z. B. mit den Eigenschaften des Entlausungsmittels Zyklon B, der Größe der Gaskammern, der Dauer einer Vergasung einschließlich der notwendigen Belüftung der Gaskammern, der Kapazität der Verbrennungsöfen sowie dem ungeklärten Verbleib der 15 000 Tonnen Asche aus der Verbrennung der Leichen) vereinbar ist

    ‘Given the unimaginably huge number of 4 million [allegedly killed at Auschwitz], one must question how this number can be reconciled with certain natural laws (e.g., with the properties of the anti-louse medication Zyklon B, the size of the “gas chambers”, the duration of a “gassing”, including the time that would be required to air out the chamber afterwards, the capacity of the crematoria as well as the missing 15 thousand tonnes of ashes that would have resulted from the burning of the corpses).’

    That’s just a wee taste of what Lerle has published. Those who can read German can visit his site to wallow in his iniquity, if they are gluttons for punishment. The inverted commas around ‘Jews’ and ‘Jewish’ in the bits cited above, BTW, are in Lerle’s original.

    No, I’m sorry, June. Whatever talking points from Christianist websites you are parroting, Lerle is an anti-Semite and nazi apologist of the vilest sort. The only question that remains is what you are. Are you a neo-nazi yourself? Or just an ignorant cow? I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, so I will assume the latter, pending further evidence.

  39. #39 Mrs Tilton
    June 30, 2007

    Graculus @37,

    though you’re right about the difficulty of precise translation, you’re wrong on the details. Beleidigung is not ‘defamation’, which would be covered by üble Nachrede (StGB § 186) or Verleumdung (StGB 187). And assault is Körperverletzung, StGB $ 223. The ‘violent acts’ mentioned under § 185 would be, for example, spitting in the face or a slap to the face. But of course, one could, in the latter case, be brought up on both § 185 and § 223.

  40. #40 Mrs Tilton
    June 30, 2007

    Graculus @37,

    though you’re right about the difficulty of precise translation, you’re wrong on the details. Beleidigung is not ‘defamation’, which would be covered by üble Nachrede (StGB § 186) or Verleumdung (StGB 187). And assault is Körperverletzung, StGB $ 223. The ‘violent acts’ mentioned under § 185 would be, for example, spitting in the face or a slap to the face. But of course, one could, in the latter case, be brought up on both § 185 and § 223.

  41. #41 Jaycubed
    June 30, 2007

    “The only question that remains is what you are. Are you a neo-nazi yourself? Or just an ignorant cow? I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, so I will assume the latter, pending further evidence.”
    Posted by: Mrs Tilton

    It appears that your mind only allows three categories, just like President Bush. Those categories are: (1) you’re evil, (2) you’re stupid, (3) you’re one of us.

    I am a believer in free speech. That includes the right of people to say whatever they want to say in public other than the direct incitement of violence (“kill him”, “beat him”) against another.

    Either you believe in free speech…or you don’t…even for people like “an anti-Semite and nazi apologist of the vilest sort”. If you don’t believe in free speech for those you despise, you do not deserve it for yourself.

    Counter them with more free speech. What are you afraid of?

  42. #42 Graculus
    July 1, 2007

    Mrs Tilton, it’s a matter of how it *may* be Englished, not how our legalese translates to theirs. Legalese being a whole other kettle of fish in English.

    I’m pretty sure that jokes about the cost of German haircuts won’t get you arrested, for instance.

  43. #43 June
    July 1, 2007

    I may well be an ignorant cow, but the fact remains that Lerle’s indictment does not mention denial of the Holocaust.

  44. #44 Mrs Tilton
    July 1, 2007

    Jaycubed @41;

    You’re right about free speech. I believe in it myself, even for those I despise (die Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit der anders Denkenden and all that). People should be free to advocate any position, even Holocaust denial, with impunity. And if you’ve followed what I’ve written about the Lerle case, both in comments here and at afoe, you’ll know that, while I am sensitive to the German concerns that led to this law, I don’t like it. There wouldn’t be such a law if I were in charge.

    All that said, there is a law in Germany against denying the Holocaust. And that’s what Lerle was convicted for; not for preaching the Christian faith, or opposing abortion, or for being an intelligent design creationist, or (as June suggested upthread) to punish ‘contempt for government’. You can argue that the law is wrong; but it’s there, and Lerle broke it.

    BTW, I don’t think Bush’s world-view is as complicated as all that; it seems limited to your (1) and (3).

    June @42:

    I may well be an ignorant cow, but the fact remains that Lerle’s indictment does not mention denial of the Holocaust.

    Yeah, I’m leaning heavily towards ‘she’s ignorant’ myself. I think it’s likelier you are simply repeating some American right-wing talking points you heard somewhere and don’t know what you’re on about; because if you are actively lying, you’ve a pair of brass balls the size of cantaloupes.

    Lerle was indicted (and tried, and convicted) for violating § 130(3) of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB). You’ll find the original here. If you can’t read German, this is what it says:

    A person who approves of, denies or dismisses as unserious the acts under the National Socialist regime described in §§ 6(1) of the Law on Crimes Against Humanity in a manner likely to disturb public order, publicly or in an assembly is liable to a prison term of up to five years or a monetary penalty.

    § 6(1) of the Law on Crimes Against Humanity covers genocide. Now, can you think of a genocide perpetrated by the nazis? Like maybe the one that Lerle, on his public website, says didn’t happen because there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz and Zyklon-B is just a delousing medication? Starts with ‘H’, and rhymes with ‘shmolocaust’? Ye shall know the truth, June, and the truth shall make you free.

    I should note that, technically, § 130(3) StGB covers not only the Holocaust but also the nazi genocide against the Roma and Sinti (‘gypsies’). But I haven’t run across any statements by Lerle claiming that didn’t happen; he seems to be strongly fixated on the Jews.

  45. #45 IgnorantCow
    July 1, 2007

    #38 above quotes Lerle as follows

    Die Leugnung [des Holocausts] zu bestrafen, bedeutet, Menschen wegen Verbreitung eines politisch unkorrekten Geschichtsbildes einzusperren.

    The correct quote, including the key first sentence, (from Lerle’s indictment as well as his webpage) is

    Der Völkermord der Nationalsozialisten ist inzwischen eindeutig Geschichte. Die Leugnung desselben zu bestrafen, bedeutet, Menschen wegen Verbreitung eines politisch unkorrekten Geschichtsbildes einzusperren.

    So, we see that Lerle actually AFFIRMED the Holocaust in this particular paragraph! In English, he wrote

    The genocide of the Nazis is in the meantime clearly history. To punish denial of the same is to imprison people for disseminating a politically incorrect view of history.

    If this is the worst paragraph the prosecution could dig up against Lerle, the case was flimsy indeed. The rest of his paper merely babbles incomprehensibly about Jesus and the Jewish conspiracy and questions details of the Holocaust. The issue here is NOT whether the details are crackpot nonsense, but whether Lerle denies the Holocaust. I still cannot see it in this case.

    PS: Since it is now July, I thought I would change my handle — June

  46. #46 Thony C.
    July 1, 2007

    Ignorant Cow you are quote mining in a horrible way. On the same page Lerle is quoted in several passages as saying, albeit in the conditional, that the evidence for gas chambers in Dachau and Auschwitz is based on a lie and that is staight forward holocaust denial!

  47. #47 IgnorantCow
    July 1, 2007

    There are many mis/quotes/translations and a lot of irrelevant ranting on both sides of this case, which involves many of the flashpoint issues of our time.

    I did not research the writings of Lerle; I made just one point in #35 and #44: Lerle could not have been (validly) convicted for Holocaust denial since even the indictment papers quote him as admitting it. And to prove that, I cited one bad quote in #38.

  48. #48 Graculus
    July 1, 2007

    I’m caught in moderation for some reason..

    Mrs Tilton, my only point was that you are unlikely to get arrested fo making a joke about the cost of German haircuts, as the translation “insult” does not match the contemporary usage of “insult” in English. I’m sure that legalese in both countries is a slightly different language than what is spoken in the streets.

  49. #49 Mrs Tilton
    July 1, 2007

    IgnorantCow @47

    (and BTW, I’m glad you like your new name):

    I did not research the writings of Lerle

    Yes, that’s very apparent. (And I’d be fascinated to hear how you gained access to his ‘indictment papers’, as you claim to have read them.)

    Lerle’s repeated public statements are replete with Anti-semitism of the vilest sort, including (but far from limited to) Holocaust denial. Look, just go and read them. I don’t care what you heard on Free Republic or from the Brussels Journal. Lerle has been convicted of Holocaust denial for the sole and simple reason that he denies the Holocaust.

    This isn’t Guantanamo, you know; Germany takes the rule of law very seriously, and there are any number of neo-nazis (including an entire party, the NPD) who are left to peddle their filth in freedom so long as they do not violate a specific law. Lerle did, and is now being punished for it.

    Out of curiosity, why do you think Lerle was convicted, if not for Holocaust denial? If you suggest it is because he is against abortion sort because he is a conservative Christian, I’m just going to have to laugh at you again. Nobody is prosecuted for those things anywhere in Germany (for the very good reason that they are not illegal). The current governing coalition includes many people who’d fit those descriptors (anti-choice; right-wing Christian). And Lerle was charged and convicted in (extremely right-wing and clericalist) Bavaria; to suggest he was victim of a political with-hunt there is as ludicrous as suggesting that a Christianist would be railroaded in Alabama.

    For your own sake, do recall the first rule of being in a hole. You claim Lerle is no Holocaust denier. Those of us who read German can readily access reams of evidence (not least from Lerle’s own website) that demonstrate he is a Holocaust denier scarcely distinguishable from Fred Leuchter, David Irving or Ernst Zündel. You really don’t help your credibility by persisting in denying Lerle’s denialism.

  50. #50 Mrs Tilton
    July 1, 2007

    Graculus @48,

    quite; but remember that, under the StGB, insult (Beleidigung) is punishable only if committed in a manner calculated to disturb the peace. Cracks about the cost of haircuts are unlikely to get you nicked. (And even that ‘disturbing the peace’ bit goes too far for my own taste; if ‘sticks and stones’ is good enough for the playground, it’s good enough for the criminal code.)

  51. #51 Thony C.
    July 2, 2007

    Mrs Tilton wrote:

    And I’d be fascinated to hear how you gained access to his ‘indictment papers’, as you claim to have read them.

    There here Lerle posted them in the net himself.

  52. #52 Thony C.
    July 2, 2007

    Sorry (1) It should of course read “They’re here” and (2) for some reason my link doesn’t work but if you google Lerle’s full name you can find the indictment papers easily enough.

    Beleidigen, some comments: The German Beleidigen (verb) is primarily translated into English with “to offend” rather than “to insult”. The definition of Beleidigen in German is to attack or to injure somebody’s dignity.

    The first Article of the German Grundgesetz i.e. the German Constitution, reads as follows: Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar. Sie zu achten und zu schützen ist Verpflichtung aller staatlichen Gewalt. That is in English: A person’s dignity is inviolate; it is the obligation of all forces of the State to respect and protect it.

    The fifth article is: Jeder hat das Recht, seine Meinung in Wort, Schrift und Bild frei zu äußern und zu verbreiten. In English Everybody has the right to freely express and distribute his opinion in (spoken) word, in writing and as picture.

    Given the definition of Beleidigen these two articles can and often do stand in contradictions to each other. Such cases often land before the German Constitutional Court which some times decides in favour of the protection of personal dignity sometimes in favour of freedom of speech.

  53. #53 Gerard Harbison
    July 2, 2007

    The issue here is NOT whether the details are crackpot nonsense, but whether Lerle denies the Holocaust. I still cannot see it in this case.

    The charge is actually ‘denying or minimizing the holocaust’. Lerle’s claim that so many Jews could not have been killed in the gas-chambers is certainly the latter, if not the former.

  54. #54 IgnorantCow
    July 2, 2007

    It’s a fine point that apparently everyone misses, perhaps due to poor translation. Lerle likens abortion to genocide, calling both government-sanctioned murder. Lerle claims that abortion descriptions and statistics are being distorted. (He does have a point there: pro-choicers describe abortion as the trivial destruction of a few cells; pro-lifers describe it as cutting living, late-term fetuses into pieces.)

    But then Lerle compares this minimization of abortion to Holocaust victim counts being SHIFTED from Dachau (in Germany) to Auschwitz (in Poland), making it easier to revise history and blame the Poles for much of the genocide. That’s why Lerle questions the logistics of processing 4 million bodies: he wants Germany to take more blame for the Holocaust.

    Here is my best guess why/how Lerle was convicted. Once upon a time a German judge somewhere referred in an opinion to the destruction of live fetuses in utero as the “alleged misdeed of murder”. Lerle (a prolifer with a record of convictions for “insulting abortion doctors”) is upset by this, and refers sarcastically to the “alleged misdeed at Auschwitz”. Big mistake! Prosecutor Schmiedel pounces on that phrase as denying the Holocaust and uses it to indict and convict Lerle for inciting the public to riot. And so the law is used to convict a pro-lifer for sarcastically asking Germany to take more blame for the Holocaust. It’s Kafka time in Germany.

  55. #55 Mrs Tilton
    July 2, 2007

    IgnorantCow at @54:

    It’s a fine point that apparently everyone misses, perhaps due to poor translation.

    Except that several of the commentators here (Thony and myself at least, and possibly Gerard Harbison), as well as Andrew Brown, who has written about this elsewhere, are reading Lerle’s statements in the original German.

    the law is used to convict a pro-lifer for sarcastically asking Germany to take more blame for the Holocaust. It’s Kafka time in Germany.

    That’s, emm, a highly interesting reading of Lerle’s voluminous and viciously anti-Semitic diatribes; also, of course, a bizarrely tortured and patently false reading. What Lerle writes could have come – indeed in many cases did come — directly from Fred Leuchter’s denialist writings or from the earlier German Auschwitzlüge of Thies Christopherson. Lerle has been convicted of Holocaust-denial because he denies the Holocaust, full stop.

    Gratifying as it must be to you to indulge in the fantasy that a poor Christian martyr is being oppressed, it’s far from ‘Kafka time’. No Bavarian prosecutor is going to go after an abortion opponent for anti-choice statements. The Bavarian government itself is anti-choice. (And, more generally, clericalist and very right-wing.) It can’t forbid abortion outright (that’s a federal matter), but does what it can to make abortions difficult to obtain in the state.

    That’s quite apart from the fact that no prosecutor anywhere in Germany is going to go after an abortion opponent for anti-choice statements, because they’re not illegal. If, however, an abortion opponent has some other hobby-horse — in Lerle’s case, Holocaust denial — that violates German law, then yes, he just might get done up. But abortion opponents have as little legitimate reason to claim that one of their number is being persecuted for opposing abortion than creationists have to claim that Kent Hovind has been imprisoned for opposing evolution.

    Ignorance is one thing, IC; it’s no sin, and it can be cured. Lying is another thing altogether.

  56. #56 IgnorantCow
    July 2, 2007
    “That’s, emm, a highly interesting reading of Lerle’s voluminous and viciously anti-Semitic diatribes; also, of course, a bizarrely tortured and patently false reading. “

    I am reading the indictment in German, which quotes Lerle on abortion:

    “…, da die Menschentötungen im Mutterleib ebenso als “legale berufliche Aufgabe” gewertet werden wie seinerzeit das vermeintliche Unrecht von Auschwitz; …”

    in English

    “… homicide in the womb is treated as a “legal professional function” just as in those days were the alleged injustices at Auschwitz; …”

    The German “vermeintlich” can mean denial (alleged, fake, pretended, self-styled) or assumption (presumed, putative, reputed, supposed). The indictment chose “alleged” to bolster its case. If one choses “presumed”, the case falls apart.

    Look, no matter how much you hate the creep, don’t you need to prove more than that he questions the number of victims?

  57. #57 Mrs Tilton
    July 3, 2007

    I’m happy for you that you can read German, IgnorantCow. The downside of that, alas, is that we can no longer give you the benefit of the doubt, assuming you have had only selected information at second hand. As Thony noted above, you are quote-mining egregiously.

    You ask:

    no matter how much you hate the creep, don’t you need to prove more than that he questions the number of victims?

    First of all, Lerle is certainly a creep, but I don’t hate him. I don’t know him; and life is too short to waste strong emotion on those we don’t know. I agree with you, though, that if he is to be convicted of denying the Holocaust, he needs to have been charged with denying it. But the prosecutor’s case hardly rests on Lerle’s use of the word vermeintlich. (Though I’d note that, even here, your take is strange. For Germans, vermeintlich isn’t a word with two possible translations. They don’t translate it at all; it’s a single word. The court is unlikely to have asked Lerle, ‘Emm, what would you have written for vermeintlich if you’d been writing in English?’ And even if one is to read it as having, in this case, a meaning closer to what would in English be ‘presumed’ than to ‘alleged’, Lerle could still be denying or minimising the Holocaust, as the word necessarily casts its historicity into doubt. I can assure that you anybody in Germany who says, ‘Maybe the Holocaust happened, maybe it didn’t’ would be viewed — correctly — as a denialist.)

    Of course, one stray ‘alleged’ would be unlikely to spur a prosecutor’s office into action. But that’s not all Lerle wrote. Nor did he merely question the number killed at Auschwitz. He strongly implies that no mass murders took place there, and that the entire site today is a fake. And he has an, emm, interesting explanation why that is so, and why so many people accept the ‘presumed’ Holocaust.

    For the benefit of readers who have no German, here are a few more things that Lerle has posted about the Holocaust; for some odd reason you didn’t see fit to quote them. They are, however, included in the prosecutor’s formal charge — the one you said stated no case against Lerle:

    Bei der unvorstellbar großen Zahl von vier Millionen stellt sich nämlich die Frage, wie diese Zahl mit manchen Naturgesetzen (z. B. mit den Eigenschaften des Entlausungsmittels Zyklon B, der Größe der Gaskammern, der Dauer einer Vergasung einschließlich der notwendigen Belüftung der Gaskammern, der Kapazität der Verbrennungsöfen sowie dem ungeklärten Verbleib der 15000 Tonnen Asche aus der Verbrennung der Leichen) vereinbar ist.

    Given the unimaginably large number of 4 million [killed at Auschwitz], one has to ask how this number can be reconciled with certain natural laws, e.g., the properties of the delousing medication [!] Zyklon B, the size of the gas chambers, the length a gassing would take (including the necessary ventilation of the chamber afterwards), the capacity of the crematoria and the inexplicably missing 15,000 tonnes of ashes from the corpses.

    Lerle is not merely claiming that the nazis gassed fewer people at Auschwitz than generally accepted. He’s denying that the installation was suitable for mass gassings at all — after all, Zyklon B is just a delousing medication! — and he’s denying such gassings occurred. It is telling that Lerle’s arguments here are lifted directly from the so-called ‘Leuchter Report’, which has since been thoroughly debunked.

    It’s also worth noting that Lerle grossly overstates (‘four million’) the number believed killed at Auschwitz. (He claims this number has been artificially inflated to increase the overall victim count of the Holocaust.) SFAIK the best current estimates of the number killed at Auschwitz are somewhere between one and two million, and even the higher earlier estimates were about two and a half million. Lerle can’t be prosecuted for simply suggesting that fewer died at Auschwitz than generally believed when he more than doubles the estimate.

    Now, why did the world think there were gas chambers at Auschwitz? Among other things, because the camp commandant admitted there were. But, you see, he only said that because the victorious Allies tortured him until he said it (and don’t worry, Lerle will later make it clear at whose behest the Allied torturers were acting):

    Als Beweis für die Gaskammern gilt das Geständnis des Lagerkommandanten Höss. Dieses wurde allerdings durch britische Folterspezialisten zustande gebracht…. Warum wurde bisher noch nie ein ehemaliger KZ-Häftling, der einer Falschaussage überführt wurde, wegen Meineides bestraft?

    The confession of camp commandant Höss is deemed evidence for the gas chambers. But this confession was obtained by British torture specialists…. Why haven’t any of the former concentration camp inmates beeen punished for perjury for making false statements?

    Don’t worry, Lerle is only getting warmed up:

    Touristen konnten in Auschwitz die Originalgaskammern besichtigen. Erst seitdem ein amerikanischer Bösewicht einen Gesteinsbrocken entwendet hatte, der keine erhöhten Werte an Eisenzyanid enthielt, wurden aus den Originalgaskammern stillschweigend Rekonstruktionen. Die Tatsache, daß aus Originalgaskammern stillschweigend Rekonstruktionen wurden, beweist somit zwingend, daß wir auch über Auschwitz belogen worden sind.

    Tourists could visit the ‘original’ gas chambers at Auschwitz. But then a troublemaking American [note: Lerle is referring to notorious Holocaust denialist Fred Leuchter; see the links above for info about his ‘report’] took away a sample stone that contained no increased level of ferrous cyanide, and all of a sudden the ‘original’ chambers were quietly recategorised as ‘reconstructions’. The fact that the original gas chambers have become reconstructions is compelling proof that we have been lied to about Auschwitz. [Emph. added.]

    Lerle is not quibbling over a few tens of thousands of victims more or less (reputable historians do that all the time, and with total impunity, even in Kafka’s Germany). No, Lerle is casting doubt on the truth of the Holocaust itself.

    Now, it’s true that Lerle does not deny the nazis killed some Jews. But then, Holocaust deniers never do. What they do say (Wiki, but you are free to follow the linked citations) is that the numbers killed were grossly exaggerated (typically: ‘by the Jews, for their own post-war benefit’); and they say, in particular, that there were no mass gassings at Auschwitz. Lerle’s writings place him squarely in the denialist camp.

    But, if there were no mass gassings at Auschwitz, if there were no Holocaust (or at most, something vastly smaller and less significant than is usually believed), then why does the poor benighted public think differently? Lerle has the answer to that one (and you know what’s coming, or course): it’s that eternal enemy, the Jews (or, as Lerle prefers to write it, the ‘Jews’):

    Könnte es nicht eventuell sein, daß deshalb alle Menschen von den Gaskammern in Auschwitz überzeugt sind, weil jeder durch die gleichen Propagandalügen bewegt wird? …Könnte es nicht eventuell sein, daß wir aufgrund dieser Verdummung nicht auf den Gedanken kommen, daß wir lediglich Bestandteil einer von “jüdischen” Meinungsmachern bewegten Volksmasse sein könnten? …Könnte das eventuell die Ursache dafür sein, daß wir uns so sicher sind, daß es in Auschwitz Gaskammern gab?

    Could it not be the case that everybody is convinced about the Auschwitz gas chambers because they’ve all been duped by the same lying propaganda?… Could it not be the case that, thanks to our ignorance, it occurs to nobody that we are all just part of a mob manipulated by ‘Jewish’ opinion-makers? …Could this be the reason why we are so certain there were gas chambers at Auschwitz?

    Nice friends you have there, IC.

    You’ve concealed from non-Germanophone readers of this site Lerle’s blatant and bog-standard Holocaust-denying statements — and at this point I can only conclude you have done so deliberately. You’ve also claimed that the prosecutor failed to state in her charges any facts on which one might legitimately bring a charge of Holocaust denial. You’re wrong there, too; and again, given that you have read the charges, I can only conclude wilfully so. Here’s how Ms Schmiedel sums up:

    Daß sich der Angeschuldigte in seinen Textpassagen teilweise rhetorischer Fragen bedient, hindert nicht das Vorliegen des § 130 Abs. 3 StGB, da aus diesen Fragen im Zusammenhang mit den weiteren Textpassagen und der Art der Formulierung das Leugnen, jedenfalls aber das Verharmlosen, der unter der Herrschaft des Nationalsozialismus begangenen Taten deutlich zum Ausdruck kommt, was vom Angeschuldigten auch beabsichtigt ist.

    That the accused, in parts of these textual passages, makes use of rhetorical questions does not mean that the crime defined in § 130(3) StGb [i.e., Holocaust Denial] has not taken place. For those questions, taken together with the other passages of the text, clearly express denial or at least minimalisation of the crimes committed under the National Socialist regime — and that is what the accused intended.

    As we know, Lerle has since been convicted. But he was not convicted by a Kafkaesque kangaroo court, lying in wait until it could pounce on an abortion opponent who had unwisely used a word that could be translated as ‘alleged’. No; as we can see from the passages I’ve quoted above, not to mention the rest of what Lerle published, he stands convicted out of his own mouth.

    And you, IC, stand convicted (albeit only before the court of this comments thread) of quote-mining, deception and lying. So long as it was possible that you were getting your information second-hand from some fringe rightwing source, one might have concluded that you were merely hoodwinked. But you’ve made clear that you have accessed the original source. Since you continue to give a grotesquely misleading description of what’s in that source, you’re a liar; there’s no alternative explanation.

    The only question that remains is: what dog do you have in this fight? Are you anti-choice, or a Holocaust denier? (Of course, like Lerle, you could be both.) But it’s impossible to tell from what you have written, because hangers-on of the Holocaust-denial and anti-choice movements have very similar qualities of intellectual honesty (not to mention just-plain honesty, full stop.)

  58. #58 IgnorantCow
    July 3, 2007

    Please calm down, Mrs. Tilton — you are getting foam flecks all over my screen :).
    Of course, Lerle was jailed for denying the Holocaust.
    Of course, he writes a lot of religious and political gibberish.

    Now, let’s get back to the point I made in #35, that the articles quoted in the indictment do not SUPPORT the charge of denying the Holocaust. I based this on the fact that one article begins with the sentence “The genocide of the Nazis is in the meantime clearly history. ” which is so devastating to your argument (see my #45).

    In summary, my only point was/is that it seems to be absurd to base a legal case of denying X on an article that starts out “X is a fact”.

  59. #59 Mrs Tilton
    July 3, 2007

    IC @58:

    Thanks for your concern, but I assure you I’m quite calm. My engagement here is on a purely intellectual level. As I mentioned upthread, there’s no point in reacting emotionally to people, however ‘creepy’, whom I do not know.

    the articles quoted in the indictment do not SUPPORT the charge of denying the Holocaust. I based this on the fact that one article begins with the sentence “The genocide of the Nazis is in the meantime clearly history. ” which is so devastating to your argument

    Stuff and nonsense. The point you made @35 was ‘Lerle did not deny the Holocaust, at least not in the writings for which he was indicted.‘ (which sits ill, BTW, with your sudden concession @58 that he was jailed for denying the Holocaust). And ‘the writings for which he was indicted’, quoted in the charges, manifestly support a charge of Holocaust denial. They are, as I noted before — and as anyone can see in the quotations that I supplied (and you ignored) — bog-standard Holocaust denialism of the sort that could have (and has) come from Ernst Zündel, Fred Leuchter, Thies Christopherson, David Irving or any of dozens of other denialists. Lerle states — repeatedly — that there were no mass gassings at Auschwitz and that the Holocaust is ‘lies and propaganda’.

    You and I might think that German law should not punish that sort of thing. But it does. That, and no other reason, is why Staatsanwältin Schmiedel charged Lerle with the crime; and she adduced sufficient evidence for the court to convict. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Schmiedel’s charges: now that I’ve reproduced a fair chunk of them here in English, are you still entirely certain you want to stick by your statement @43 that ‘Lerle’s indictment does not mention denial of the Holocaust‘?

    As for the sentence you think so ‘devastating’, it is to be read in context with the sentence that follows it, and in any event doesn’t say what you think it does:

    Der Völkermord der Nationalsozialisten ist inzwischen eindeutig Geschichte. Die Leugnung desselben zu bestrafen, bedeutet, Menschen wegen Verbreitung eines politisch unkorrekten Geschichtsbildes einzusperren

    Here Lerle is not saying that the Holocaust is fact. He’s saying it has ‘very clearly become part of history’. Not a fact, in other words, but an element in a narrative about the past. And, as his next sentence puts it, ‘to punish denial [of the Holocaust] is to lock people up for having a politically incorrect view of history.’ For Lerle, that’s all Holocaust denial is: a difference of opinion; one that is, sadly, at present disfavoured by the oppressive forces of ‘PC’. To hear Lerle go on, one would almost warn Larry Summers not to visit Germany, lest he be clapped in irons for his views as to why women are underrepresented in the sciences. In any event, Lerle’s statements are to be seen as a whole. Even if I grant you your reading of that one sentence, i.e., ‘the Holocaust really happened’, its force is wholly dissipated by the many, many sentences that follow, repeating over and over again the denialist’s mantra that the Holocaust is a lie.

    my only point was/is that it seems to be absurd to base a legal case of denying X on an article that starts out “X is a fact”.

    Nice try, but that wasn’t your point at all. To the extent you have a point beyond mounting a tissue-flimsy defence of a Holocaust denier, it seems to be this: portraying Lerle as an innocent if perhaps unwise abortion opponent who rashly put himself in a position where a German court could punish him for his anti-choice views under colour of the law against Holocaust denial. As you said @54:

    Here is my best guess … a German judge somewhere referred in an opinion to the destruction of live fetuses in utero as the “alleged misdeed of murder”. Lerle … is upset by this, and refers sarcastically to the “alleged misdeed at Auschwitz”. Big mistake! Prosecutor Schmiedel pounces on that phrase as denying the Holocaust and uses it to indict and convict Lerle for inciting the public to riot. And so the law is used to convict a pro-lifer for sarcastically asking Germany to take more blame for the Holocaust. It’s Kafka time in Germany.

    Poor innocent Lerle! If only he hadn’t put his head in the noose for those prosecutors and judges just lying in wait to jail abortion opponents on the flimisiest of pretexts!

    BTW, I haven’t done (and nor am I about to do) an online search of German judicial opinions, but I would be willing to bet that no German court has ever referred to abortion as the ‘alleged misdeed of murder’. There’s no need to ‘allege’ a misdeed, because abortion is already an express violation of the German criminal code. That is, the act of obtaining or performing an abortion is defined in the StGB as a crime. Abortion does take place in Germany without women being punished for it, of course, though I suspect at rates rather lower than those in the USA. (How can that happen? Well, IC, since you can read German, I leave it to you to educate yourself on the differences between Tatbestandsmäßigkeit, Rechtswidrigkeit and Schuld.) But in Germany, the default position remains that abortion is a crime.

  60. #60 Thony C.
    July 3, 2007

    Mrs Tilton got here before I was finished with my traslation but I will post it anyway.

    Ignorante Kuh you’re quote mining again! The statement that you are quoting continues as follows:

    Der Völkermord der Nationalsozialisten ist inzwischen eindeutig Geschichte. Die Leugnung desselben zu bestrafen, bedeutet, Menschen wegen Verbreitung eines politisch unkorrekten Geschichtsbildes einzusperren. Es kann doch nicht bestritten werden, daß unsere bisherigen Auffassungen über die Nazis mit handfesten Lügen durchsetzt sind.

    That is: The Nazi genocide is definitely history. To punish the denial of this fact means imprisoning people for the publication of a politically incorrect view of history. It can not be denied that our existing comprehension of the Nazis is permeated with substantial lies.

    Taken in total the quote that you claim exonerates Lerle of the accusation of holocaust denial does nothing of the sort rather it confirms that he does indeed deny the historical view of the holocaust.

    By the way I do know Herr Lerle personally and if I were to express my true opinion of his personality here then, under German law, which was recently confirmed to apply to internet forum comments, Herr Lerle could sue me for Beleidigung and claim at least $10 000 and I have no intensions of granting him that pleasure!

  61. #61 IgnorantCow
    July 3, 2007

    Re #59: Everyone knows that Lerle was convicted for denying the Holocaust; PZ says so in the first sentence of his post. So let’s stop dragging that dead cat around. My point was never whether he was convicted, but whether the indictment presented evidence to convict him.

    The prosecutor urges a holistic view, ideally uniting all that Lerle has ever written into one gigantic sentence, with overlapping contexts, and with rhetorical questions converted into explicit denials of fact. Lerle, on the other hand, points out that he nowhere denies the Holocaust, that he references it for comparison to abortion and to discuss logistical details. Lerle explains a lot more in his website.

    Re #60: I presented that paragraph to point out that MrsTilton skipped the key assertion that the Holocaust is a historical fact, which is what I focused on. The sentence “Es kann doch nicht bestritten werden, daß unsere bisherigen Auffassungen über die Nazis mit handfesten Lügen durchsetzt sind.” asserts that “modern stories about the Nazis are shot through with significant lies”.

    Considering that elsewhere he makes the reasonable point that more of the victims allocated to Auschwitz actually perished in Dachau, I don’t see where Lerle denies the Holocaust or diminishes its horror.

    Happy Independence Day!
    Here’s to the American flag and to independence from prosecution for thought and word.

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