Holocaust Denial and Free Speech

The Anti-Defamation League lost credibility today by expressing support for the court decision in Austria that sentenced British Holocaust denier David Irving to three years in jail. An ADL statement read:

“Considering Austria’s history during the Nazi period, the existence of laws against expressing Holocaust denial is understandable,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. “Irving is a key figure in efforts to legitimize Holocaust denial. At a time when the President of Iran is spreading this message of hate that Irving has propagated, the Austrian court has sent an unmistakable and important message.”

Free speech requires that we have to put up with being offended now and then. As offensive as Irving’s work may be, he still should be allowed to write what he wants without ending up behind bars. The way to fight back against hate speech and historical mythmaking is by disseminating truth. Sending Irving to jail allows him to become a martyr and provides him with more publicity than he otherwise would have.