22 February 2006

More on the Irving Case

Interesting comment in the Grauniad about the Irving case.

Irving has not gone to prison for defending truth. There is not the slightest
resemblance between him and the courageous journalists in China, genuine martyrs
for free speech, imprisoned for criticising a totalitarian regime. He is no
impartial seeker after knowledge. He writes what amounts to propaganda for the
neo-Nazi cause. This cannot even be defended as slanted history with a claim on
our indulgence. It is an incitement to hatred.

The problem with this, even though its description of Irving is accurate, is that, in the end, the best answer to bad speech is good speech. And a lot of it. John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, made the point:

Men are not more zealous for truth than they often are for error, and a
sufficient application of legal or even of social penalties will generally
succeed in stopping the propagation of either.

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