[Paleopsych] spiked-liberties: (Pamuk and Irving) Free speech in Europe

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Free speech in Europe

[Any red-blooded American should get instantly suspicious of anything that 
is backed with severe sanctions, from loss of a job to jail. If suggesting 
that 50K+ or so years of divergent human evolution might have produced 
group differences in innate cognitive capacity, for example, leads to 
sanctions, one ought to wonder why the evidence that this hasn't happened 
hasn't been produced. This is most especially the case where those who 
maintain the Orthodox position have the where withal to do the research to 
demonstrate their truths.

["If you have the facts, argue the facts; if you don't have the facts, 
argue the law; if you don't have the law, pound on the table" is an old 
legal saying. But it's much worse to take away a skeptic's job or put him 
in jail.

[It is all-too-common to put the careers of even scientists at risk for 
dissenting from the reigning orthodoxy. This is a tricky issue. There are 
a few who dissent from the theory of relativity. They usually couch their 
arguments in philosophical terms, often arrived off the cuff. What they 
must do is truly master the orthodoxy and do the hard, hard work of 
*building* an alternative and showing how their alternative fits the facts 
at least as well as the orthodoxy and overcomes the objections.

[A dissenter should also argue that his is a progressive research program. 
That there are (paranormal?) phenomena that go beyond what we can account 
for has been demonstrated. But there has been no progress toward finding 
any regularities in over 150 years. On the other hand, there seems to be 
something to acupuncture, but we (Western scientists) don't understand how 
it might work. Nevertheless, acupuncturists afaik are doing the same thing 
they did since time immemorial ("the memory of man runneth not to the 
contrary" --Blackstone). There have been a huge number of claims for faith 
healing, in so many religions, that faith healings cannot be evidence for 
the truth of any one religion. To say these healings work though brain 
mechanisms just restates materialism; plausible mechanisms, or at least 
the outlines of such, need to be developed. Plate tectonics was slow to 
get accepted, not because observing the fit of Africa and South America 
has not suggested the possibility (not since time immemorial but since 
1492) but a sufficient understanding of how such plates might work took a 
while to be developed. Whether this is a case of a theory being accepted 
too slowly, I don't know, and I suspect other theories have been accepted 
too quickly.

["Those who left the Party before I did are traitors; those who 
left afterwards are fools."

[I know little about the Armenian genocide, but I have read articles and 
books on Holocaust Revisionism and followed somewhat closely Irving v. 
Lipstadt. In that trial, the judge gave a narrow definition of what 
Holocaust denial consisted of. It was much narrower than the persecution 
of Jews by Germans. Rather, it was the thesis that there were no 
homicidal, operational gas chambers that were used to kill some millions 
of Jews as a matter of deliberate state policy.

[There is an actual, substantive meta-issue here! The meta-issue is over 
the expected quantity and variety of evidence. All sides agree that there 
is not very much of it. There are a couple of dozen eye-witness reports, a 
few confessions, a few documents that point to a deliberate state plan, 
and some tell-tale signs in the concentration camps that rule out a more 
benign interpretation, esp. Keren, et alia, below.

[The meta-issue is over why there is so little. The Orthodox viewpoint is 
that the Holocaust was a *conspiracy*, which of course it was, though 
oddly it is never designated by that name. Conspirators do not want their 
misdeeds to be known. They use code words ("Final Solution," of course, 
but others like "removal to the east"), they promulgate their orders 
verbally, they do not even speak of it in secret cables (at least none 
that have been shown up in what is apparently a huge and random collection 
of them captured by the victors), they destroy the evidence at the sites 
themselves, few eyewitnesses have spoken because nearly all of them were 
themselves gassed. The Holocaust was, in short, nearly the perfect crime, 
and it has taken the detective work of, at first, a very few indefatigable 
historians to uncover it. Overall, though, where there was this much 
smoke, although not the best smoke, there must have been been fire.

[The Revisionists, on the other hand, make the implicit meta-claim that 
there should have been mountains of evidence. Germans are meticulous 
record keepers. Enterprises on the scale of the Holocaust require large 
bureaucracies and generate enormous paper trails. There should be a lot of 
forensic evidence at the sites of the camps. War plans, which have 
shown up on secret cables, would certainly have been more secret than 
the running of death camps. And so on.

[The Orthodoxy counters that rumors must have at least some substance 
behind them and that it is conspiratorial thinking to have made all this 

[The debates go back and forth, to the extent anyone stops name calling. I 
have two articles that I'll be glad to ship to anyone who asks for them, 
articles that are the best ones on both sides that I have encountered, 
for I always seek out the best articles in any debate:

[For the Revisionists, there is a literary analysis by Samuel Crowell, 
"The Gas Chambers of Sherlock Holmes," which is available at 
http://www.codoh.com/newsite/GasChambers/SamuelCrowell/abooktoc00.html . 
(If this doesn't work, I can supply a text copy.) He does not go into the 
adequacy of eyewitness testimony (often contradictory), the interpretation 
of documents (which can run either way), the absence of clear Hitler order 
(should there have been one?), the demographics (also up for grabs). 
Rather he argues that the belief in murder by poison gas arose not by a 
conspiracy but by misunderstanding and rumors. I can trace no substantial 
dealing with this article, either on google or on alt.revisionism, as 
taken from http://groups.google.com.

[For the Orthodoxy, there's "The Ruins of the Gas Chambers: A Forensic 
Investigation of Crematoriums at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau," by 
Daniel Keren, Jamie McCarthy and Harry W. Mazal, _Holocaust and Genocide 
Studies_ 2004 18(1):68-103; doi:10.1093/hgs/18.1.68


[Combining engineering, computer, and photographic techniques with 
historical sources, this research note discusses the gas chambers attached 
to crematoriums at Auschwitz I and the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. 
Among other things, the authors identify the locations of several of the 
holes in the roofs through which Zyklon B was introduced: five in 
Crematorium I and three of the four in the badly damaged Crematorium II. 
The authors began their project before David Irving's libel suit against 
Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, proceeding simultaneously with, but 
independently of, the trial. The defense presented the first version of 
the authors' report during Irving's subsequent application to appeal. 
Irving's application was rejected by the court.

[It was publicly available for a while, though why the Holocaust Museum, 
which sponsors the journal, yanked it is a mystery. I can supply a copy of 
this also.]


The trial of Orhan Pamuk for 'publicly denigrating Turkish identity' is a
disgrace. So is Austria's imprisonment of David Irving for Holocaust denial.

by Brendan O'Neill

Two European writers have recently fallen foul of European governments for
expressing their views about genocide. Both are threatened with trial and
imprisonment for something they said or wrote. Yet one is supported by EU
politicians and the international literati - who have rallied around to defend
him from censorship and to champion the right of writers to speak freely - while
the other has been ignored, or even told that he got what he deserved.
This is bad news, because when it comes to free speech it's all or nothing: we
either have it or we don't. And if we were to have free speech for one writer but
not for another, then we wouldn't have free speech at all.

The writers are Orhan Pamuk and David Irving. Pamuk, a Turkish novelist, faces
trial for questioning the official Turkish line on Armenia. The Turkish
authorities argue that their killing of Armenians during the First World War
cannot be classed as a genocide, and have taken umbrage at the following comment
made by Pamuk in an interview earlier this year: 'One million Armenians and
30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares talk about it.'
With those words, Pamuk apparently 'insulted Turkishness' and faces up to three
years behind bars if convicted (1). His case has become an international cause

Irving, a British historian, is currently languishing in jail in Vienna, awaiting
trial in February next year for denying the Holocaust. He was arrested in
November while on a speaking tour of Austria for comments he made in the country
over 15 years ago. Back then he allegedly made two speeches in which he denied
that there were any gas chambers under the Nazis (he has apparently since revised
his views and now accepts that there may have been a few such devices). Holocaust
denial is a crime in Austria, and if found guilty Irving could be jailed for up
to 10 years (2). His case has not become an international cause célèbre.

The writers could not be more different. Pamuk is an internationally acclaimed
novelist. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and he is
hotly tipped to win the Nobel Prize for Literature one of these years. His
'crime' was to question Ankara on the touchy subject of Armenia. Irving, by
contrast, is a racist crank, an historian whom no one outside of small fascist
sects takes seriously. He denies the facts of the Holocaust, once claiming that
'more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than
ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz' (3). And as someone who uses England's
illiberal and undemocratic libel laws to try to punish his critics - including
Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust, in a case he lost in 2000 -
Irving is not in a good position to complain about being robbed of his right to
free speech.

Yet their cases are the same: both could be incarcerated, not for physically
harming another person or for damaging property, but for the words they spoke;
both could have their liberty removed because they expressed views that the
authorities - in Turkey and Austria - decree to be distasteful. And both of their
trials are an outrage against the principle of free speech. You may or may not
agree with what Pamuk said, and you probably are disgusted by Irving's weasel
words. But this isn't about what either author said; it is about whether they
should have the right to say it, and we should have the right to hear it. Freedom
of speech, as its name suggests, does not mean freedom for views that go down
well in polite society but not for views that stink: it means freedom for all
speech, the freedom to think, say and write what we please and the freedom of
everyone else to challenge or ridicule our arguments.

The fact that Pamuk's and Irving's trials have occurred around the same time
provided a tough test of Europeans' commitment to free speech. The fact that many
rushed to defend Pamuk while ignoring - or giving the nod to - the imprisonment
of Irving means Europe failed that test.

In both cases - in the trials themselves and the reactions they have provoked -
the big issue is not so much freedom as EU etiquette; it is less about defending
open debate than about defining what it is to be a good little EU state and how
best to please the bigwigs in Brussels. So Turkey is put under pressure to call
off Pamuk's trial to demonstrate that it is the modern European state it claims
to be and is fit to join the EU, while Austria is congratulated for its tough
stance on Holocaust denial which is taken as evidence that it has overcome its
shadowy Nazi past as the birthplace of Hitler and is moving towards a new dawn.
EU officials demand that Turkey let Pamuk speak if it wants to be taken
seriously, while Austria is taken seriously by refusing to let certain people
speak. This is about ensuring we have the right kind of speech, as defined by

So some of the same EU officials who tacitly support Austria's imprisonment of
Irving, and who have clamped down on freedom in their own states, can still
lecture Turkey about Pamuk. Take Denis MacShane, New Labour MP for Rotherham and
former minister for Europe. He has taken himself off to Turkey to observe Pamuk's
trial, and says 'Turkey is on trial', not Pamuk: 'As in past centuries, state
authorities or religious fundamentalists have put a writer on trial to stop him
or her asking awkward questions, but end up in the dock themselves', says
MacShane. 'Turkey will not join Europe unless Voltaire wins, and the ayatollahs -
secular and religious - lose.' (4)

Who the hell is MacShane to lecture Turkey about free speech, to put the Turkish
authorities 'on trial', to decree if and when the Turks can 'join Europe'? His
own government has ridden roughshod over free speech, recently introducing a
Racial and Religious Hatred Bill that will seriously curb our right to ridicule
religious obscurantism; bringing in a law that will make an offence of
'glorifying' or 'condoning' acts of terrorism (or saying other things that might
be perceived as 'attacking the values of the West', in the words of Lord
Falconer); and banning various things deemed offensive, whether it's the
newspaper of the British National Party or the music of Jamaican dancehall
artists, one of whom was arrested upon arrival in Britain last year, interrogated
by the Racial and Violent Crime Taskforce, and then deported (5).

Would MacShane's time not be better spent in Vienna rather than Ankara,
investigating Irving's case? Irving is at least a British citizen, which means
MacShane has some authority to enquire after his wellbeing and legal standing;
certainly more authority than he has to talk down to the Turks. The Irving case
is presumably too messy for MacShane, who seems to prefer the popular and
clear-cut campaign to defend Pamuk. Or perhaps MacShane supports the trial and
imprisonment of Irving.

That someone from a government as illiberal as New Labour can stick it to Turkey
over Pamuk demonstrates that this has little to do with free speech. Various
European politicians and EU bureaucrats who don't know the meaning of free speech
are queuing up to berate Turkey. One says the Turks are behaving like a
'dictatorial regime, not a modern European state' (6). Meanwhile, as one news
report put it, Austria's arrest of Irving - 'in a country still coming to grips
with its Nazi-ruled past' - has won the state 'praise worldwide' (7). In the
Pamuk and Irving cases the argument for free speech is trumped by demands that
Turkey and Austria display their EU credentials for the world (and Denis
MacShane) to pass judgement on - Turkey by allowing a novelist to raise awkward
questions about Armenia, Austria by clamping down on anyone who questions the
Holocaust. Austria is especially keen to punish Irving following events five
years ago. In 2000 the people of Austria incurred the wrath of EU officials for
daring to vote for a right-wing party led by Joerg Haider. Austria was
effectively informally suspended from the EU and is now keen to show that it is
modern and liberal by making an example of the right-wing Irving.

In the Pamuk and Irving cases, EU officials are really making a case for
privileged speech, not free speech; they defend comments they agree with and
authors they admire but are happy to see those they dislike banged up for
expressing dodgy points of view. Pamuk's case should be thrown out of court and
he should be free to say or write what he wants. But if that happens and Irving
remains in jail in Vienna then there isn't free speech in Europe; if Pamuk is
free to ask questions about Armenia but Irving is not free to say the Holocaust
was exaggerated, then free speech does not exist.

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