Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Holocaust denial and free speech

The poet and literary academic Akos Szilagyi has no objections to the proposal because, he says, denying Auschwitz is not expressing an opinion, as the progress of culture is measured by the distance between this culture and the "terrible potential beneath the surface" (Safranski) - and denying Auschwitz represents a move towards this potential. "As such the denial of historical fact equates with the denial of humanity, of the world, of Europe, of Christianity and of freedom that Auschwitz represented. As such, humanity, European culture and democratic rights and liberties have no enemy more irreconcilable than the Auschwitz denier [...] In this one very case (!) the law would not be prohibiting the expression of some appalling, outrageous and incredible 'freak opinion', it would be defending the existential foundations of our post-Auschwitz world." (Via: Sign and Sight)

Oliver Kamm once discussed the same conundrum:

"...While free speech hurts and offends, there is nothing wrong in this. In almost no case is anyone entitled to restitution or protection. (The strictly limited exceptions are where there is 'clear and present danger'; incitement to crime; or defamation. By defamation, I naturally mean a statement that is damaging and false. I do not mean - as one reader of this blog has rueful cause to recollect - a statement that is damaging and true;

...There is no speech more disreputable and fraudulent than Holocaust denial; but the reason it's objectionable is that it's false, not that it's offensive. The only proper recourse to it is the discipline of historical scholarship and critical inquiry, as opposed to the fakery practised by Irving.."

And what about Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial?

Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami has criticised a controversial conference on the Holocaust -- held in Tehran late last year -- in an interview published in Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot.

"I strongly condemn the holding of this conference," Khatami said Friday in an interview given on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"The Holocaust against the Jewish people was one of the most grave acts against humanity in our time. There is no doubt that it happened," he is quoted as saying in a rare interview by an Iranian official to Israeli media.

"I suggest to all of us to separate the Holocaust from Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab discussions," he is quoted as saying. "It is without precedent and cannot be compared to anything else." (Via:)


At 4:59 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Call me a pessimist or a cynic (both are true in a large measure), but Khatami's tricks don't impress me somehow.


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