Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The case of David Irving

So, as I said, that's one of the things occupying my thoughts these days. And yes, probably there could be more interesting and important matters, but bear with me, will you?

David Irving is an historian. An english historian who denies that the Holocaust ever happened. Questionable, yes, racist, yes, anti-semitic, of course, someone most of the people wouldn't even give a greeting to, but fundamentally a writer, someone who has his own thoughts about something and puts them down on paper, finding someone interested in publishing that.

So what's the matter? If you do not know, and you didn't care of checking the link in my previous post, this nice fellow, aged 67, went to Austria where, substantially for his opinions, has been arrested, put to trial and sentenced to 3 years of prison without possibility of release on parole (to be noted that in Italy, for your first sentence, you are released on parole for *almost* everything except murder, kidnapping and drug dealing).

Now my question and my problem is, can we really consider that fair? We westerners make ourselves (often just nominally) the defenders of basic freedoms like teh one of opinion, thought, press, and then we jail someone because we don't like what he writes? I don't think so. Not to mention that putting him to jail is counterproductive as he will become a martyr for some people, a pity-case for others (honestly, a 67 years old pretty dignified looking guy jailed for 3 years for having written a book?) and generally do nothing good as his books are still printed and sold in the countries where it is perfectly legal to do that.

And another one... can we really allow an EU country to close in jail an EU citizen for having done something that in his country is perfectly legal? Would an italian court prosecute a dutch Marjiuana user who did use of that in Amsterdam, where that's legal? Or a German court prosecute a Swiss doctor for having practiced euthanasy in Switzerland, within the law? Of course not. And you think that the Dutch and Swiss government would just sit, arms crossed? No, obviously they'd be pretty vocal about that. The British government is, apparently, doing absolutely nothing about it.

The most ironic thing is that we give some absolutely authoritarian and fanatic people like Iran's president the excuse us to call us hipocritical. In a speech of a few days ago he said that we weserners are hipocrits who wave around teh banner of free speech when it comes to the cartoons' case, yet as soon as the subject becomes the holocaust, we change our mind. It's sad to notice that he could appear as right.

My ending thought, but I'm still debating with myself, is that the guy should be set free. And free to keep writing. And obviously, free of being proved wrong by all the other historians, and they are the absolute majority, who believe and can prove teh Holocaust happened.

Free to be a pariah of the historians' society, but free.

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