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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Monday, February 06, 2006

Those double standards

28 Comments:

Blogger James Waterton said...

Is hoolocaust denial illegal in Denmark? I haven't read that. I know it is in Germany - whilst I don't agree with this for the same reason I support the publication of the cartoons - it's perhaps arguable that Germany requires a degree of special consideration due to its history.

Where else is holocaust denial illegal?

Monday, February 06, 2006 11:09:00 pm  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

You may just be missing the point James.

Monday, February 06, 2006 11:26:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

I believe it is also illegal in Austria. Isn't that where David Irving got nabbed?

Monday, February 06, 2006 11:55:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Enlighten me with whatever you think the point is, Iqbal. Then it's time for discussion.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:53:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

This is unbelievable. If there is one freedom the left should treasure, it should be the freedom to make fun of a religion (Life of Brian, anyone???), especially one whose most severe, intolerant adherents are anti-women, anti-gay, anti-freedom of expression, anti-just about any good time you can think of.

And here you all are, rolling over, making excuses, false comparisons, and bad justifications. I swear, part of me was really hoping we could all get togther on this thing, the rest of me despairs that young clever lefties are so willing to let freedom of speech be curtailed by such a low common denominator of lunatics and embassy-torchers.

Sigh.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:01:00 am  
Blogger JohD said...

Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Poland, Israel, Canada, and is also illegal in Australia under the racial vilification law. Some guy was ordered to pull revisionist literature from his website by the Supreme court. I can dig up the reference if you want.

Never mind it is here:

http://www.adelaideinstitute.org/Legal/judgment27june.htm

The point is that this is not a complete list. Many countries have racial vilification laws of some sort or the other, a blatant violation of the principle of free speech. After all, it is the hallmark of a democracy that we be able to insult people with impunity. That is the argument that seems to be ascendent at present.

Personally, I am heartened that Muslim's have at least decided to take action. Not only are they taking action, they are taking action over a relatively unimportant issue, are doing so in ways that displeases the masters of discourse, and doing so in a manner that threatens to undo the decades of patient building of the neo-liberal facade - free trade. I have hopes that they will tear up all those free-trade agreements that forbid the economic sanctioning of anybody not specifically sanctioned by the masters. The EU is already screaming blue murder and warning that the boycot violates fundamental free trade agreements. I expect they will get the big finger form the Muslim world.

http://mensnewsdaily.com/Library/widgets/2006/02/europe-warns-saudi-arabia-against.html

Muslims have widely differing views, and not all Muslims find it imperative to concern themselves of the war being waged against them and their religion. So many don't give it a second thought. This incident is perfect to rally Muslim solidarity. Now radical and moderate Muslims only have tactics and responses to concern themselves about, they all all convinced of the campaign against their religion. It is not about western public opinion, but opinion in the Muslim street that counts.

Another hope is that Australia will be sanctioned by Muslims for trading with that monster Saddam Hussein, and providing funds for suicide bombers. Ain't hypocrisy a lark?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:25:00 am  
Blogger Adam Smith said...

Not really the same thing, but I do agree that the truth needs no protection.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 3:05:00 am  
Blogger Adam Smith said...

Not really an apt comparison but I do belive that the truth needs no alws to protect it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 3:06:00 am  
Blogger Brian said...

The leaders of British Nation Party were just tried for some "hate speech" in Scotland.

They were acquitted on some charges and the jury was hung on others.

While am very watchful that this party could "step over the line", so far they seem to be a just a legitimate political party. I find the prosecution troubling, based on what I know so far.

Also, a party in the Netherlands was also banned for some positions that they took on immigration.

Europe is in a strange place right now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:24:00 am  
Blogger Brian said...

Ah, I may have missed the point as well.

Let just say that although holocaust denail is not the easiest speech to defend (to put it mildly), we really need to preserve as much speech as we can stand less our particular issue be the next one on the list.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:39:00 am  
Blogger psydoc said...

It is called defamation of the dead. Just as we have defamation of the living, countries like Germany have taken a special responsibility to ensure that there is no white-washing of their own hideous history.

An unflattering or inflammatory cartoon of Mohamed does not engage in any defamation. When you consider it in the context of the blatantly anti-semitic cartoons that come out of state-sponsored newspapers, you really have to wonder what all of the fuss is about.

The Arab world is the one where the double standards exist. This current disgraceful episode of violence was a sinister pre-meditated series of acts designed to retaliate against the current pressure being brought against Iran.

Where is all of the outrage from the left about calls to close down newspapers from the Arab world? Where is the outrage at the burning of embassies? Are Arabs against diplomacy? Should they intimidate free news sources into submission?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 9:03:00 am  
Blogger Ros said...

7 European countries apparently including Switzerland. But this is a furphy. Holocaust denial is about a specific event, not freedom of speech as such. All of Europe feels shame for that horror and it seems to me reminds themselves in such acts. And it is Holocaust denial, not that the Jewish religion be held above criticism or satire or savaging. And as many like to put about, many other groups suffered as well. The holocaust was about denying people their humanity and their lives, not their sensitivities. There was once in the 20th century 18,000,000 Jews in the world and with a short period of time there were 12,000,000. It must never happen again is the very clear message from Europe and it’s position on Holocaust denial, this madness that overwhelmed them in the last century.

„In the mid-1980s, German newspapers were filled with the so-called Historiker-Streit, a passionate dispute between German historians, not about whether the Holocaust occurred, but about whether it was a unique event in world history. In the end, the opinion prevailed that the Holocaust was a crime that could not be equated or even compared to the horrors of Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union.“

This response from SOME muslims is about acknowledging their God and his pre-eminence in our affairs. That they equate cartoons with the murder of millions I find very disquieting. Islam is just one of many religions (or a particular kind of ideology) and does not deserve a special place in our societies. By their lack of response to the hate spewed at others who hold to different beliefs, the mainstream Muslim community has no standing here when it comes to seeking restriction of one of the fundamentals of a democratic politic. The Middle East that peddles obscenities to justify their hatred of other’s beliefs is totally without clothes.

But after all they are just dhimmi.

I again quote this character from the USA. His message is clear, our mores will be your mores. Jim Lehrer Hour. Ahmed Younis.

And secondly, integration is the way of tomorrow. Whether its Tariq Ramadan in Europe or the American Muslim community here, to develop an identity that is germane to the country of which those individuals live and is perceived as organic and legitimate within the classical discourse of Islam, and perceived by Muslims around the world to be legitimate within the classical definitions of Islam, this is the goal of Muslim minority communities in the West.”.

Integration

“the action of incorporating a racial or religious group into a community”

It does not mean that the western society is required to reduce it’s rights to meet the lower standards of a religious polity. He asks for a take over.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 9:17:00 am  
Blogger Ros said...

Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Poland, Israel, Canada, and is also illegal in Australia under the racial vilification law”

Did you read the case johd

“(c) Jewish people who are offended by and challenge Holocaust denial are of limited intelligence; and
(d) some Jewish people, for improper purposes, including financial gain, have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II and the circumstances in which they were killed. “

In case you are struggling it is not about Holocaust Denial it is about racial vilification. That is the racial discrimination laws of Australia do not make Holocaust Denial a crime,

As follows

“Carr J, correctly in my respectful view, has described parts of the document as "deliberately provocative and inflammatory" as "contrived to smear" Jews and as containing reference to "paint Jews in a bad light". His Honour, correctly in my respectful view, has said that the tenor of the Document was to offend and insult, amongst others, Jews.”

Referencing the Adelaide Institute.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:47:00 am  
Blogger Stev said...

Holocaust denial is about a specific event, not freedom of speech as such.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. We can have freedom of speech about concepts, groups and religions, but not specific events? Yes, Holocaust denial is about a specific event, but it is 'speech' about a specific event and as such should remain 'free'.

It must never happen again is the very clear message from Europe and it’s position on Holocaust denial

Can one not question the authenticity of reports of an event while still holding true that such an event should not happen/happen again? How does restricting the rights of people to voice their thoughts and beliefs stop such a tragedy from happening again?

That they equate cartoons with the murder of millions I find very disquieting.

For all the missed points thus far, I think this is the most troubling. Although it doesn’t seem as though the point has been missed as much as it has been completely distorted. The cartoons are not equated with the murder of millions. The cartoons are compared with voicing questions about the murder of millions. The grounds for comparison is a perceived lack of consideration concerning an event/person who is held as an integral part of a social group's history.

While you may not agree with the comparison, it's worth noting that it is, and always has been, a comparison and not an equation. And it's also worth noting that the comparison in question is essentially between two examples of the treatment by members outside of that social group of things held as sacrosanct for said group.

I may not agree with the position of holocaust deniers, but from what I’ve read theirs seems to be an academic consideration of history rather than an attempt to make fun of Jews. Sure, there are some people who use holocaust denial to vilify Jews. But this is some, not all, and there's certainly no call to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I see the right to freedom of speech in both examples as important, but it seems to me there is more validity in honest historical question than there is in a few cartoons. Though I personally believe each are equally entitled to free speech, from that perspective the argument could be put forward that holocaust deniers are more entitled to free speech than these cartoonists.

I do agree with you though that it is a stretch to align Australian racial vilification laws to laws against Holocaust denial. I think racial vilification laws could conceivable be used to silence geniune questions regarding the holocaust, but in comparison to the specific laws in European and other countries there is really no comparison.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:11:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Still waiting for that elusive point, Iqbal.

My original post was an opening salvo against the cartoon itself, which made a special effort to declare "something is rotten in the state of Denmark". This is obviously wrong - I think it's great that the Danes are at liberty to print these cartoons, and I haven't heard anything about holocaust denial being illegal there. Something clearly isn't rotten in the state of Denmark, yet the cartoon erroneously singled them out anyway.

As far as the countries whose media printed the cartoons, yet ban holocaust denial - this is a hypocritical position. I believe holocaust denial should not be criminalised - free speech is a right for all, even racist morons.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:28:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I agree James,

Seems a touch unecessary to go to such lengths to shut down those who denouce something if it can be proven historically.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:04:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

BTW Stev,

Excellent post. I do think the line about comparisons not being the same as an equation is very pertinent.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:10:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Lets make something quite clear here; 'freedom of speech' is nothing but a propaganda slogan. There is no freedom of speech. It some speech is deemed to be against the law, however justified, there is no freedom of speech - period.

As to just how dangerous freedom of speech is, one only has to ask; 'how many people will die for this?'. It is clear that this type of insidious propaganda(read 'free speech') is more than likely driven by an agenda. It behooves us to examine whether an agenda is at play or not. It it can be shown that it is driven by an agenda that seeks to highlight a difference between 'us' and 'them', in order to justify an attack on 'them'; charges of racial, religious and/or ideological vilification should be contemplated and applied. Thousands of Iraqi's were killed because of the vilification of an idividual - Saddam Hussein. Many people jumped on this bandwagon, on grounds that Saddam was a modern day Hitler. In the end thousands of innocent people have been killed, and millions have had their lives disrupted and their livlihoods destroyed. It is the epitome of evil to apply such utilitarian principles; that it is legitimate that some should suffer for the greter good, but it is the prevailing ethos in Western society nowadays. 'Free speech' like this is always the precursor to applying such utilitarian prinsiples - today they are irrational fanatics, tommorrow we want to feel justified for bombing them to smithereens. As far as I can tell, that is why war-crime tribunals have been set up to try radio broadcasters that painted people as 'cockroaches' and Nazi's were hung at Nuremburg for little more than being propagandists.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:34:00 pm  
Blogger Jon said...

Come on Antony. As you quite well know only a handful of countries have banned holocaust denial and there is no comparison been criticising a religion and denying the holocaust. You are simply unwilling to accept that the reaction to these cartoons by the Islamic world has been so over the top and ridiculously excessive that it brings into questions the Islamic world's commitment or lack thereof to modern values including freedom of the press. Whether an editor of a paper should publish a cartoon is for the editor to make but they should not be intimidated with hysterical violent reactions by any group from doing so.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:18:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Johd - I barely understand your point, but what I'm getting is quite chilling. Who decides whether an agenda is at play? What's their agenda? Who decides where to let the axe fall on what's decided as agenda-pregnant speech?

Personally, I believe in extreme free speech - personal responsibility is everything; "incitement" is nothing if the individual incited is of age and of sufficient mental state.

Direct threats of violence, slander and libel are where I draw the line. I disagree that there is no comparison between criticising a religion and denying the holocaust. I strongly believe one should be able to announce to the world that they deny the holocaust - who does it really affect, apart from the PC brigade? I'm sure most Jews would treat the monosyllabic utterances of such the holocaust denying knuckledraggers with the uninterested dismissal they deserve.

Frankly, those who argue for the right of publication of these cartoons have a clear double standard if they think that holocaust denial should be prohibited as well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 4:01:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

Seems to me this freedom of the press/expression thing has it's downside. Denmark, always been pretty "free". Remember the good old days when Danish mags were pretty risque compared to Playboy & Penthouse. WOAH Mama, they showed it all!! They seemed to take the lead in that particular free speech. Now look at it, you got a few billion porn sites on the web, anyone can access practically anything..and it's all...FREE! Must be good. However there are some who object to say, pedophiles watching naked children.

Just depends on what you're sensitive about I guess.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 7:38:00 am  
Blogger JohD said...

Well it should be provable in acourt of law if a deliberate agenda to incite is at play. That is why there are laws. So the answer is that people should be able to decide legally if there was a deliberate provocation. The idea that 'incitement' should not be legitimately sanctioned on grounds that people are adult is specious, there is after all the reality of a mob mentality.

Free Speech carries with it obvious responsibilities. Someone standing on a street corner inciting hatred is patently not the same as someone publishing those same views in a mass produced broadsheet or tabloid. For that reason, the mass media bears more responsibility for their actions than do an individual.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 2:27:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Stuart Pethick over at Global Research gives a good rundown on this issue. "Freedom to Express or Repress?"


http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=PET20060207&articleId=1901

Boy, that word verification process is a bugger when you are legally blind. It takes me at least four go's.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 3:01:00 pm  
Blogger Stev said...

For that reason, the mass media bears more responsibility for their actions than do an individual.

They should, but very rarely do.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 3:44:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Johd - Your devaluation of individual responsibility because an adult allows themselves to be swept away by (what you term) a "mob mentality" is specious.

And your idea about prosecuting to discover an "agenda" is ridiculous. The courts would be backed up for decades under this farce you envisage.

Who decides which agenda is permissable, and which isn't? I seldom come across a more ill-considered concept.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 8:24:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

What's the matter james, have you never heard of 'mob mentality' before? People go on a rampage for all sorts of reasons, and it is not just Muslims either. If someone is inciting a mob, they need to be prosecuted, full stop. Certainly nobody seems to object to calls to prosecute Muslim agitators, so why the objection to calls for non-Muslims who incite Muslim mobs to be prosecuted? If these cartoons were published to incite a Muslim mob, then it should be provable, and if provable, the incitement should be the subject of a prosecution. Simple.

As far as I am aware, there does exist laws in Demark to prosecute on this basis.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C02%5C08%5Cstory_8-2-2006_pg7_51

Apparently, the prosecutor has decided that there is no case to answer, but the case has been apealed and there is lively legal debate as to whether a case should be brought under the blasphemy law:

“Section 140, which deals with blasphemy, reads: ‘Those who publicly mock or insult the doctrines or worship of any religious community that is legal in this country, will be punished by a fine or incarceration for up to four months’.”

which has not been done since 1938, or the Racial vilification law:

“Section 266-B of the Danish Criminal Code says: ‘Any person who, publicly or with the intention of wider dissemination, makes a statement or imparts other information by which a group of people are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, or sexual inclination shall be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding two years.’

So, however much your thespian adherence to free speech dogma might otherwise dictate; there does exist laws that prescribe the limits of free speech, even in Denmark..

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:57:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I imagine due to the presence of superior law (perhaps even constitutional law) which cancels out specific passages you cherry pick from (what you allege is) Danish legal code. Has it ever crossed your mind that there's a reason it hasn't been touched since 1938?

there does exist laws that prescribe the limits of free speech

Really? Are you an expert on Danish law? Thought not. Things are usually more complicated than a couple of cheap quotes you've Googled.

Anyway, when I laid out my opinions of the limits of free speech, I wasn't using Denmark as the benchmark of my ideal. Do try to follow my argument, there's a good chap.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 5:33:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Incidentally, I realise that people go on "the rampage" for all kinds of reasons. The difference between you and me is that I don't try to pin responsibility on a "mob" that you seem to think is less responsible for its actions than the sum of its parts - a group of free thinking individuals that have decided to act like animals.

That is mob law. A group of people who have - each and every one of them at one point in time - decided to discard the vestiges of civilisation.

There should be no added defence for the damage any individual may cause simply because s/he made a concious decision to run with a mob.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 5:37:00 am  

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