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1 CuriousLurker  Sat, Feb 25, 2012 1:41:37pm
You can’t fight hate with a muzzle, it’s better to know who the real haters are.

Seconded, but without an explanation in the article, I really didn’t understand the legal distinction being made between holocaust denial being illegal/not protected free speech and “an ‘attempt at an explanation’ to deny German guilt for the war being legal/protected.”

2 EiMitch  Sat, Feb 25, 2012 1:47:06pm

Oh, I hate these kinds of ethical conflicts. This is one of those victories for freedom of speech that makes me feel dirty for supporting free speech. But freedom necessarily comes with excess and insanity. If you can’t defend that, then you’re just a fair-weather friend of freedom.

Pardon me while I take a cold shower.

**talks to mirror**

Remember, the solution to bad speech is good speech. Point out exactly how and why neo-nazis are crazy a-holes. Using the law to shut them up is just a quick fix. There is no short-cut nor substitute to teaching each new generation to understand the past.

**hangs head in shame**

Just in case: I’m not /sarc

I really do have mixed feelings. And there is no easy answer.

3 Bob Levin  Sun, Feb 26, 2012 1:47:01am
A Nazi sympathiser was within his human right to free speech when he denied the Holocaust – a crime under German law – an appeal court in the country has ruled.

The unnamed man, 82, had walked into a pub and complained about a TV documentary being shown about the Second World War.

He questioned “lies” about the war and two days later handed neo-Nazi material to the landlord in Thuringia, East Germany.

The pub owner reported him, leading to a hate crime conviction.

But the OAP appealed, claiming free speech, and the Constitutional Court said his comments were an “attempt at an explanation” to deny German guilt for the war.

Holocaust denial remains illegal, it said, as it is “a fact that usually doesn’t have protection of free speech”.

This is the entire article, which means that it gets down to what the man specifically said, and exactly what he handed out. The sociology of the time remains extremely complex, the mass psychology even more so. The topic has so many layers that even today we haven’t scratched the surface of what needs to be done to prevent future genocides. In fact, the world hasn’t stopped trying to exterminate one population or another since the end of WWII.

But, like the article says, Holocaust denial is still not legal in Germany, and it is not protected by freedom of speech.

Mind you, this article is from the Mirror, which means it falls into the area where news and entertainment meet. They could have at least published his quotes, since there is absolutely no possibility that they would be violating German law.

4 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Sun, Feb 26, 2012 2:25:56am
You can’t fight hate with a muzzle, it’s better to know who the real haters are.

I concur in part and dissent in part, as a judge might say.

I disagree that hate speech laws are never defensible.

Yet I think that no one should be punished for expressing distorted views of history as long as this expression does not involve explicit hate speech towards groups or is not done with hateful intent.

As to the first part: it can be argued that in certain times and places hate speech is aking to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. What works in some places, like the US, may not work in other places, like some European countries. And by hate speech I mean mostly negative characterizations of groups of people by race, sex, religion, sexual orientation (some more could be added, of course), calls for violence or discrimination against them, etc. (One could list all sorts of exceptions and nuances here.)

As to the second part: certainly, distortion of facts of history can be used as a hate tool; but so can be purely factual history which is just stripped of context.

I think prohibiting expressions of historical views (without explicit hate speech) is just too dangerous, on balance, and is bad by itself just on principle, as well as because it leads other states to mimic such laws in regard to other historical interpretations, which in turn may not be as well-defined or well-established as the Holocaust. (I.e. I believe that in this case a broken clock principle is at work.) To be added to that is the fact that in the era of the internet such laws lose a lot of their intended force, since someone interested in these historical topics can easily find these materials online - and sometimes without explicit rebuttals.

As a test case: if a person publishes a book pretending to be a purely technical treatise, without a single bad word about Jews or without touching on politics at all, but which argues that a death camp’s ovens and pits couldn’t cope with with all the corpses, that is still Holocaust denial.

But should such a dry “treatise” be punished? I’m kinda open to using intent as control here - e.g. if it is published by some neo-Nazi outlet which also puts out the Protocols, the intent seems to be clear.

On the other hand, if we’re going to punish someone for technical arguments - no matter how false or misguided - because of potential long-term repercussions - then why shouldn’t all the authors those false and misleading, but still data-laden and graphs-laden climate denial books also be punished, given that climate denial’s consequences would seem to be almost literally grave? (It’s obviously not a call to punish climate denial.)

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