Thursday, November 29, 2007

"The world would be a terrible place without you"

A-propo, David Irving, I mentioned Oliver Kamm in a comment*. Here he is again, still tangentially relevant to the Oxford Union's Freedom of Speech fest with neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers:

It's almost a relief to turn to a nutter who hasn't (so far, at least) threatened me with a libel writ. This is Marisa Lorah of California. Ms Lorah merely writes:

CONGRATULATIONS, DAVID IRVING!!!!! YOU WON AGAIN IF BUT JUST FOR ONE NIGHT. FREEDOM OF SPEECH RULES IN BRITAIN AND "SOME" PEOPLE CAN'T STAND IT. OLIVER KAMM IS THE WORST OFFENDER OF THEM ALL. FREE SPEECH FOR WHOM? DAVID IRVING IS THE HERO OF GREAT BRITAIN, WESTERN EUROPE AND ALL OF THE FREE WORLD. DAVID, YOUR FANS ARE MANY AND WE WORSHIP YOU. THE WORLD WOULD BE A TERRIBLE PLACE WITHOUT YOU.

I'm marginally surprised to hear I'm THE WORST OFFENDER OF THEM ALL, as I've argued in print against laws restricting free speech in order to protect against offence. I've specifically opposed using the law - in Germany as much as anywhere else - as an instrument to curb Holocaust denial. But I would not claim to be able to render coherent the contents of Ms Lorah's universe.

I was struck by the sheer, boundless and unquestioning adulation expressed by the lady mentioned in Kamm's post. It reminded me directly of a caricature of this type, as depicted by Seinfeld in one of his greatest episodes: "The limo":

Cut back to 'O'Brien' and 'Murphy' in the limo.

Jerry (checking his watch): I don't think we're gonna make the tip off.

Tim: You think someone's been tipped off?

George: So, um, you've read "The Big Game", have you?

Eva (fawning): Yes I've read it and I've memorized it.

George: Tell me your impressions, I would love to hear what a young woman
thinks of "The Big Game".

Eva: Well, this is sort of embarrassing, but it's changed my life. The way you
analyzed the game? The way you identify the major players? Well it left mebreathless. You're a brilliant, brilliant man.

[-]

George: ...and the Jews steal our money through their Zionist occupied
government and use the black man to bring drugs into our oppressed white
minority communities.

Jerry: You're not going to open with that, are you?

Eva: What was that you said about the myth of the Holocaust?

George: I said so many things.

Suddenly they hear a loud bang.

George: They're shooting! They're shooting!

Tim (pulling out a gun): Alright, get down!

The limo comes to a screeching halt. Tim exits the limo to look around, Eva has
fallen on top of George.

Eva. Ohhh. I'm ready to die for you.

George: That's really very nice of you, Eva. Thank you.

Eva: But of course you know I would. I would do anything for you. Anything.

When I read what the two ladies say, it is hard to distinguish who is the real thing and who is the caricature.

_______________

* Here is an opinion by Georges Szirtes , same message different tone (but then, Kamm is a banker and Szirtes is a poet), which accurately reflects my mood about the Oxford affair:

I haven't metnioned the Oxford Union fracas with Irving and Griffin, two loathsome individuals whom I would go a long way not to share a room with. In principle I am wary of the No Platform platform and would prefer to consider that the very thought of inviting them should not have popped into the organisers' tousled Oxford heads. The organisers wanted publicity and they got it. I would not want to live with that publicity though: the man who invited Irving and Griffin in for a chat would not - should not - be welcome at public events elsewhere.

Ah but that is a pipe dream, of course. Social ostracism is not always an attractive alternative to the punch in the mouth or sheer physical obstruction (- Shall we ignore that nasty Mr Hitler? - OK, let's not invite him to tea...)

On the other hand actions have consequences and the Oxford scum who invited Irving and Griffen should be held responsible in whatever way seems appropriate to whomever. They knew what they were doing.

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