Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My view on the David Irving sentence

J. David Velleman said it on Left2Right as well as I could.

What a disaster.

The notorious Holocaust denier now says that he was wrong to claim that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. His recantation came in an Austrian court shortly before he was sentenced to 3 years in prison for violating a law that applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media."

Irving's forced confession of error does more to undermine belief in the Holocaust than his previous denials, by lending color to suspicions that the consensus among historians of the period is the product of coercion. The memory of the Holocaust can easily withstand the denials of someone like Mr. Irving, but only if the refusal of historians to agree with him is clearly due to the force of evidence rather than the force of law. The freedom to deny the Holocaust should therefore be precious to anyone who wants to keep the memory alive.

Historians: An Austrian judge has just usurped your epistemic authority. Why don't you protest?

And it is not as if the historians have not proven the guy to be a fool. Austria is helping nobody here.

UPDATE #2: UPDATE below shows the old fool cannot read. I should just trust these other smart people! Ignore what I say - neo-neocon and my sister are far more sensible than I!

UPDATE: My sister has linked to neo-neocon on this subject (and I think highly of both). And we do not all agree. I don't really see nuance here - I think with Velleman that this punishment legitimizes and magnifies Irving. He should simply become a bad joke. I grant that this is trickier in Austria and Germany, and maybe what worries me the most is that I know Canada has anti-hate laws that are likely not helpful.


Post a Comment

<< Home