What do you think of this? There's this slimy guy, David Irving, in England who calls himself a historian. He's a holocaust denier. Now we all know that these people are slimy mofos who for some reason just can't accept that the Nazis weren't peace-loving beatniks. That's not the discussion at hand...
What's got my feathers ruffled is this news story. It seems that a court in Austria has found Mr. Irving guilty of "denying the holocaust" which is a crime there. (They were once a Nazi controlled country themselves - perhaps the subject is a tad touchy there...) However, his offensive "offense" took place during a speech in 1989. It's now 2006.
Are they a little late in prosecuting this crime? I mean, really. You have the text or recording of the speech. You see if they qualify as abiding the law. If they do, you leave the poor bastard alone - if not, you pull out the cuffs and lock him up. Seventeen years later? That's just revenge for something...
While Mr. Irving's philosophy is full of shit (a la Fred Phelps' loving, caring website about the dangers of homosexuality), I also have a problem with putting someone in prison for 3 years for being stupid. Because that's what it amounts to - he's a racist, he's an idiot, and he's not politically correct. But is that worth taking three years of his life in prison? Remember, his "crime" is denying the holocaust took place.
And what's up with the guy saying he'd changed his mind during his trial and now admitted the holocaust did exist? I mean, he's written books and made speeches for years, true. But, so what? Why not let the man keep trying to prove to the rest of the world's population how big of an idiot he is? Is it because people will listen to him?
Could that be it? Is the answer to "Why do we have to prosecute this guy for his speech?" be "Because people will listen to him?" Obviously, we don't want a ton of folks going around denying the holocaust and not learning from the mistakes of history. But is the lesson important enough to put someone in prison for it? For years? For a speech?
I find this one a sticky situation. What do the rest of you think?
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.
"Of course it's a question of freedom of speech," Irving said. "The law is an ass."
The court convicted Irving after his guilty plea under the 1992 law, which applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media."
Austria was Hitler's birthplace and once was run by the Nazis.