Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Peter Singer: Against Holocaust denial, use arguments not laws: "The timing of Austria's conviction and imprisonment of David Irving for denying the Holocaust could not have been worse. Coming after the deaths of at least 30 people during protests in Arab and Muslim countries against the Danish cartoons ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, the Irving verdict made a mockery of the claim that in democratic countries freedom of expression is a basic right.

"We cannot consistently hold that cartoonists have a right to mock religious figures, but that it should be a criminal offense to deny the existence of the Holocaust. I believe that we should stand behind freedom of speech. And that means that David Irving should be freed."

"Laws against incitement to racial, religious, or ethnic hatred, in circumstances where that incitement is intended to - or can reasonably be foreseen to - lead to violence or other criminal acts, are different, and are compatible with maintaining freedom to express any views at all. Only when David Irving has been freed will it be possible for Europeans to turn to the Islamic protesters and say: "We apply the principle of freedom of expression even-handedly, whether it offends Muslims, Christians, Jews, or anyone else.""

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