Nazi sympathizer David Irving just got three years in the slammer in Austria for various aspects of his Holocaust denial career. Do we think hate-speech laws which would be patently unconstitutional in the U.S. are okay for Europe? I’m not so sure. Maybe Austria and Germany are different and still will be for a while. The article does point out:
Kresbach said last month the controversial Third Reich historian was getting up to 300 pieces of fan mail a week from supporters around the world and was writing his memoirs in detention under the working title “Irving’s War.”
Okay, this doesn’t prove that it’s a bad idea. The Nazis who wrote Irving those letters were Nazis before and they’re Nazis now. And there is something to be said for “official opinion” reiterating “officially” that the Holocaust is undebatable — as the article says:
In 2000, Irving sued American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a British court, but lost. The presiding judge in that case, Charles Gray, wrote that Irving was “an active Holocaust denier … anti-Semitic and racist.”
Irving has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years.
In 1992, a judge in Germany fined him the equivalent of $6,000 for publicly insisting the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz were a hoax.
Give Europe credit in this instance for at least some degree of consistency:
Irving’s trial was held amid new — and fierce — debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide.
OK, so my ox is gored; I don’t mind seeing Irving sit in the clink. But yes, any principled person interested in free expression has to have at least some reservations, and not because the old Jew-baiter has a little bit bigger fan club because of it.