Thursday, February 23, 2006

Free speech and David Irving.

David Irving was found guilty in Austria of denying the Holocaust, and was sentenced to 3 years in jail. The government is looking at a possible appeal as is Irving, with both parties not being happy with the outcome of the trial. It will take some time before it gets sorted and all is settled, at least until the next 'historian' comes along.

Much has been written about the laws that were used to charge and convict Irving and most of this has been negative of the law. The issue of free speech comes to the forefront as the reason that most who oppose the law use as the basis of their opinions, and while on the surface it is a strong argument, it is lacking in perspective. The German/Austrian perspective.

Free speech is not absolute, and there are limits on what can be said without getting yourself in hot water in every country on earth. For a law like this to exist in Canada or the United States would be absurd, and I myself would fight it tooth and nail, as there is no reasonable need for the limitation on speech. In Germany and Austria, when these laws were conceived and written, there was a need to put certain limits on free speech, and the passage of time has not yet removed this need.

For a German/Austrian perspective you have to look back at not only the birth and history of the nazis and their years in power, but you also have to remember that these countries not only lived it, but also were responsible for it all. Without going into a long history lesson on the subject of the evil the nazis had set forth, just remember that it did not all end inside a bunker in Berlin in April 1945. The shadow of the nazis would continue on for decades to come, and I dare say it still hangs over Germany and Austria to this day.

When the war was over Germany and Austria had deal with the result, it did not take much introspection to see the damage that nazism had done to not only the world but also to themselves. With all of this in mind they decided that NEVER again would the nazi party be allowed to rise up from the ashes and wrote laws to this end. Having been the birthplace of national socialism, and having seen what it had done, these restrictions were seen as common sense and accepted by the majority as reasonable. Who are we to say the laws are wrong?



jamal said...

My opinion is that people should have their say. However, there must be consistency and imprisoning Irving after allowing the cartoons sends a clear messege of prejudice to muslims. I assume the Irving case is possibly fuel for further riots and disdain over the cartoons.

Austria allowed the cartoons but disallowed the holocaust denial. A clear double standard and selcetive use of "freedom of speech" arguements which is evidently prejudiced in Europe.

Ardvark said...

There are laws against denying the holocaust.

There are no laws against the cartoons. No double standard, only the law of the land.