Dedicated to Ernst Zündel - Prisoner of Conscience
The concepts expressed in this document are protected by the basic human right to freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as applying to the Internet content on June 26, 1997.
|News Archive||Printer Version||January 27, 2006|
Press action: Let Ernst Zundel and David Irving Go Home
Another mainstream media article chastizing governments for their outrageous censorship. While I do not care for the conventional and expected "kicks in the shin" that this writer practices, I still think that such articles are better than silence.
"I am uncomfortable with imprisoning people for speech." -Deborah Lipstadt, on historian David Irving
Ernst Zundel and David Irving may be filled with hate, but they should not be treated as criminals. The German and Austrian governments are the ones who have committed outrageous crimes by jailing these men for voicing their opinions about the Holocaust.
Zundel and Irving are two of the world's most infamous Holocaust deniers. But they have not initiated physical violence against anyone. They have not ordered others to commit violence.
Instead, Germany has put Zundel on trial for operating the Zundelsite website, which contains statements that the Holocaust is a fiction. It's illegal in Germany to be a Holocaust denier.
In November, Irving was arrested in Austria for two speeches he made in 1989, during which he allegedly claimed there had been no gas chambers at Auschwitz. It's illegal in Austria to be a Holocaust denier.
The governments of Germany and Austria want to send Zundel and Irving to prison for many years for publicly expressing these beliefs.
Many liberal democracies around the world have passed laws that allow them to fine or imprison people for making public utterances that don't conform exactly to the official version of the Nazi Holocaust. Canada didn't like what Zundel said or wrote about the Holocaust. Last spring, Canadian officials shipped Zundel to Germany where they knew he would face prosecution for his speech. Zundel had immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1958 at the age of 19.
Instead of creating free and open societies, the governments involved in the prosecution of Zundel and Irving are carrying on the ignoble traditions of the Nazis by targeting people for their beliefs. Who are the nations confronting Germany, Austria and Canada for their roles in these grave injustices? There are none.
In fact, many are following these nations' example. In France, Bruno Gollnisch, a professor at Lyon University, deputy leader of the extreme right French party, National Front, and a member of the European parliament, is facing charges before a French court for Holocaust revisionism. The charges relate to comments made in October 2004 suggesting the existence of Nazi gas chambers was "up to historians to decide."
However obscene one might deem the opinions of Zundel and Irving, their decision to speak their minds does not impinge on the freedom of others. The prosecuting governments, however, have the official capacity to deny people their freedom by rounding them up for the crime of publicly expressing scandalous beliefs. And Germany, Austria and Canada have taken full advantage of this authority.
The Nazis developed a policy of intimidation. The wrong comment overheard by a Nazi official could have dire consequences. Hitler's police state worked on the rule that if you said nothing, no harm could come to you. If you had doubts about the way Germany was going, you kept them to yourself-or paid the price.
The Nazis practiced an extreme form of totalitarian control. Today's enforcement of anti-hate speech laws obviously does not compare to what occurred in Nazi Germany. But the control exercised by these modern-day governments is founded on the belief that states have the fundamental right to punish individuals or groups who dare to say what the overwhelming majority of people might believe is preposterous.
In remembrance of the millions of people who died at the hands of the Nazis and their confederates, governments should be exerting less control over their populations, not imprisoning people for expressing their beliefs.
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