"Censorship is Not an Answer"

Reactions to CODOH ad at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Published: 1998-09-30

The ad ran on 16 September [1998] in The Advance Titan [AT] and was followed by a flap that took its staff rather by surprise. On the 23rd the AT printed negative letters by ten professors. There was no objective information for students in any of the letters, though there was a good deal to be read between the lines about how professors "handle" the controversy about the Jewish holocaust story.

The vast majority of professors have never expressed their views about the holocaust controversy publicly. Here was their chance to do so. They did not have to commit themselves to any particular position with regard to gassing chambers, or specific eyewitness testimony. They had only to say publicly that, while they might not be experts on the issues raised by the ad, a free exchange of ideas should be encouraged with regard to this historical controversy as it is with regard to all others. Not one of the letters written by the UW-Oshkosh professors addresses one objective issue raised by the text of the ad, and not one says anything interesting or unique about anything else.

Dear Editor:

I was dismayed to see the ad in the last issue of the Advance-Titan concerning promoting discussion of the revision of the Holocaust

[The orthodox version of this particular historical period should never be challenged.]

I really think that you should consider more carefully what sorts of ads you accept for your paper. These kinds of ads are just aimed at spreading hate

[Why is a call for open debate hateful?]

and misinformation

[What misinformation, specifically?]

and I think as responsible journalists you should think twice about giving such groups a space in a newspaper that represents our university.

Marshall Missner, philosophy professor

Dear Editor:
Your inclusion of the ADL advertisement in the Sept. 16 issue of the Advance-Titan was bad judgment, to say the least; most readers will find it offensive. Whether or not you argue First Amendment rights, how can we respect your publication when you permit the printing of something so completely devoid of intelligence, not to mention compassion?

Timothy Lovelace, music professor

I think it reasonable that a music professor would want to address the issue of compassion. Compassion for whom? He appears to take it for granted that students will know who he is talking about. Why so? Tens of millions of people died during WWII. Scores of ethnic populations suffered grievously. Who of all these peoples does the professor have in mind? Is it who I think you think it is? Would this somehow be changed, amplified, become more inclusive if there were a free exchange of ideas on the period. Would the experiences of some people come into the public consciousness that are not there now? Would others have fewer headlines devoted to them? Would that be bad for American culture? Why?]

Dear Editor:

I regret that I did not see the latest edition
of the Advance-Titan.

[Ah, the perfect representative of The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to critique the ad.]

However, I have been informed about the advertisement for an organization that argues that the Holocaust never happened

[I don't argue that, silly. It's a war story. A guy thing. Some of it's true, some of it isn't.]

Let me add my voice to the others you'll certainly hear from

[Sounds like a professorial telephone tree to me--who organized it?]

to express my dismay that you have not critically examined advertisements you carry

[These new-age psychologists – they don't have to critically examine anything! – they have their crystals and pyramids.] 


Susan McFadden, psychology professor

Dear Editor:

I was disturbed by the advertisement in the Sept. 16 issue of the Advanced Titan (sic), in which the Holocaust was denied

[Of course, nothing is denied in the ad. It's difficult to get professors to actually read these things – not difficult at all to get them to write about them.]

In Germany, assertions that the Holocaust was a lie are banned and punished as federal offenses.

[Forgetting for the moment that the ad doesn't say that – terrific law, eh Prof.? During the Hitlerian regime there was no professional class in Germany which supported Nazi policies regarding intellectual freedom more than did the professoriat. There was no class of German youth more enamored of the Nazi state than those who were in college – under the direction of their professors. German professors arguing for a return to Hitlerian policies against intellectual freedom must send the old man into spasms of laughter – in spite of the heat.] 

I realize this is a paid advertisement,

[The one way revisionists have of being read in our free press.]

and that the Advanced Titan must be concerned about the legal repercussions of rejecting an ad for political or moral reasons

[While such concerns are Constitutional in nature, special interest groups, including the ADL, routinely encourage college editors to suppress revisionist work for political reasons – ho hum, eh?]

I don't know what the legal situation now is on freedom of the press issues such as this

[We're supposed to have it, professor. It comes with the culture.]

I know other newspapers have run similar advertisements. However, I do find the ad to be offensive and dangerous hate speech (particularly coming on the eve of the Jewish High Holy Days)

[This is the one trotted out every year throughout the year – which is when the Jewish High Holy Days occur. Perhaps the professor will ring up the Advance-Titan and ask when the right time is to run the ad. Any professor.]

I do think a disclaimer on the part of the Titan and a discussion about the role of such hate speech in university media and the learning community is essential,

[Oh – bother! I don't hate you, professor, because you believe some things I don't believe. I'd rather people believe what I believe than what you believe because I believe what you believe is mistaken and that it is harmful to American and other cultures. You believe what I believe is wrong. I don't believe you hate me, however. We're just two people – we could say, two adults, who disagree on a few things. Is it really necessary to believe that if I don't believe what you believe and you want me to believe that I hate you? That's little-kid stuff.]

and I hope you will consider avenues to repair the great hurt this advertisement has caused to members of our community.

Alan Lareau, German professor

Professor Lareau, how has this advertisement hurt you, or any healthy member of your community? How you yourself have been hurt by reading that there are some society who are skeptical of some of the stories we have heard about what went down between the Germans and the Jews during World War II. How are you hurt by the fact that some of us doubt some of the things you believe? Tell us why you think such feelings are healthy, adult feelings. I will be glad to post your unedited letter here.

Dear Editor:

I found the ad on Page 17 of your Sept. 16 issue extremely offensive. As a Jewish faculty member on campus, I take deep offense to any question of whether the Holocaust occurred.

[Well, we are going to have to ask even Jewish faculty members on the Oshkosh campus to make an extra effort to read the language in the ad with a little care. We didn't say it, professor. This is an issue about which, I am afraid, Jewish faculty members on many campuses have grown accustomed to having special privileges. I don't think it's proven to be good for them.]

Either we learn from history or are doomed to repeat it.

[And that, professor, is exactly what open debate is all about. I don't think this comes as a surprise to you. Does it? I think you would want to support the ideal of open debate at university, but that you would like to have open debate on all matters except this one. Maybe I'm mistaken.]

I believe you need a change in policy about what types of ads you run.

[Yes, we can always look to the press standards set by, say, Maoist China.]

I also believe you owe the entire university community an apology, and I am looking forward to reading it.

[Uh huh. Let's see what happens.]

Baron Perlman, psychology professor

Dear Editor:

I wish to register my profound dismay that the Advance-Titan student newspaper would even appear to validate the "opinion" that the World War II Holocaust may have been a fabrication.

[Not my view. Again, some of the story is true, some isn't. Try to focus here. Example: at the close of WWII there was "eyewitness" testimony about homicidal gassing chambers at Bergen-Belsen. There weren't. Someone lied. An "eyewitness." Let's take a run at some of the other "eyewitness" testimony about "gas chambers." Where's the harm? To whom?]

When I was in college, I saw the tattooed arms of surviving Jews and heard their horrendous childhood stories. These people are now quite elderly; soon there will be none left to tell this horrible history in the first person.

[It's true of course that during the Hitlerian regime many Jewish children suffered horrendous childhood experiences. So did many German children. Jewish and German children alike were victims of one state policy or another. If you were a German child during the war and you were burned alive during the Allied terror bombings, you, too, suffered a horrendous experience. Shall we have a moment's silence for the victims of American state policy? Not worth the bother?

With regard to the meaningless observation that people who were alive a long time ago are going to die, Stephen Spielberg is getting 50,000 "eyewitness" testimonies about something other other on video tape. Maybe that will have to do. Or should we close the books on the Civil Warned Rome, say?]

It is important to protect their history accurately

[I wonder at this expression – to "protect" their history. Does that include finding out the truth about it? Is there some better way than a free exchange of ideas?]

rather than let it be rewritten by hateful

[Once again – the hate canard. It's become a simple political club. It doesn't have to be right. The person who uses it doesn't have to have any special information or knowledge. The charge itself is very damaging – a good way to control the "debate."]

persons not yet born when this tragic chapter in human history unfolded.

[Sorry, Kid, I'm 68.]

What is next? The was no famine in Somalia? The Earth is flat? There is none so blind as she who will not see.

[Agreed! By the way, I noticed you say nothing specific about the text of the ad itself.]

Dana K. Hahn, biology professor

Dear Editor:

I have heard from the Dean of the College of Letters and Science and from other faculty that the Advance-Titan published an advertisement from a group denying the Holocaust.

[The Dean got it wrong – but of course – this is UW-Oshkosh.]

If this is true

[Don't bother to find out – your letter is only intended for a student newspaper.]

you should know that you are supporting the efforts of a group that seeks to deny the historical truth of the Holocaust

[No – a group that seeks to expose the historical fraud that corrupts the real story – which is bad enough as it is with out all the extra trash that's in it.]

As a member of the history department here at UW-Oshkosh, I can tell you that this group is composed of people who know nothing whatsoever about history or historical evidence.

[Go to our Web site and read Dissecting the Holocaust (Ed.: Germar Rudolf) – who by the way has become a refugee from Germany after being condemned by the German state for publishing the results of his research on the Auschwitz and Majdanek gas-chamber frauds, after his book was ordered burned by the court – then tell us that Rudolf knows nothing about history or historical evidence. Better yet--prove it. Write a paper that proves it and publish the paper, just like the real professors do.]

When you publish their advertisements, you are aiding them in their efforts to spread misinformation

[This may be only ignorance, but it's probably ignorance mixed with an urge to slander.]

The First Amendment gives you and this groups (sic) the right of free speech, but it also gives every other member of our community the right to tell you how offended we are by this advertisement.

[That is their right – where is their responsibility?]

Kimberly Rivers, history professor

Dear Editor:

In the Sept. 16 issue of the Advance-Titan, you ran an advertisement for a holocaust revisionist group that calls itself the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, which featured CODOH's crackpot offer of $250,000 for someone to arrange a 90-minute debate about the Holocaust between CODOH and the Anti-Defamation League on network television.
Moronic groups such as this one appear for legitimacy by disguising their lunacy within a call for "free speech and open debate."

[Sounds like an insult. These English teachers are tigers. It's the Auschwitz gas-chamber story that is "moronic." Read David Cole's 46 Unanswered Questions about the World War II Gas Chambers. The reader will be able to decide for herself who and what is moronic.]

Like the Flat Earth Society, however, they advocate a position about which no legitimate debate exists.

[The English teachers have become the real authorities on this – how could we doubt it?]

The earth is a sphere, regardless of how many flat-brained people claim otherwise.
And the Holocaust occurred, regardless of how many goose-stepping

[Ah – here we are – one must be a "nazi" or "nazi-like" to question anything about the Jewish holocaust story – this is how the story is "controlled" by the special interest groups, and their hangers-on, who feel a need to suppress intellectual freedom on this one issue. And the earth is an oblate spheroid, just to set the English department straight.]

pseudo-scholars seek to "prove" otherwise.

[What do English teachers know, really, about which of the H. stories are true and which aren't – really? How do they become so sure? Which revisionist scholars have they read on this subject, and where have they published papers on what they have read? Where? How can we decide if these English teachers know whereof they speak? With regard to published revisionist papers, scores of them have been published and posted and are there in black and white for anyone to read and judge. What have the English teachers published on these matters? For that matter, when you begin to look for papers published by orthodox historians on the gas chambers, you are in for something of a surprise.]

Unlike the Flat Earth Society, which can be accused only of ignorance, CODOH is guilty of assertions that are not only incorrect, but hateful.

[Which? Specifically? Why such reticence?]

If you take a minute to peruse its Web page, CODOH's anti-Semitism will immediately become clear to you.

[As a matter of fact, if you, professor, or anyone else, can point to a straight-out anti-Jewish reference on the CODOH Web site, I'll have it removed.]

CODOH's tactic of arguing for free speech and open debate to give its hate speech a sense of legitimacy is common among groups such as this one.

[These guys love the concept of hate. It must do something for them. I talk about intellectual freedom, they talk about hate. They never tire of it. Hate. Hate. Hate. They can't get enough of it. The "Dirty Laundry" syndrome at work.]

If CODOH wants to exercise its right to free speech, it has a constitutional right to do so.

The First Amendment makes it so. But the First Amendment does not obligate the Advance-Titan to sell CODOH advertising space.

[No. It's not obligatory. There are only Constitutional, moral, and professional reasons for selling us, or any intellectual minority, space.]

I hope you inform CODOH of that fact if it calls again.

Ron Rindo, associate English professor

Dear Editor:

I was shocked

[A tender-hearted bunch, these Oshkosh professors, and all of them shocked in the same direction, as if they were part of a political movement. Or electro-shocked.]

by the advertisement you accepted for publication from CODOH. Anyone who thinks the Holocaust did not happen

[There it is again! Brain-washed? Illiterate? Dumb? Difficult to make out.]

is either totally uninformed (I really should say stupid) or are anti-Semitic in the extreme.

[But why? Any kid on the school-ground can call another kid names.]

I personally have been to two of the concentration camps (Auschwitz and Dachau) and heard several survivors speak about their experiences

[We congratulate this adventurer, but ask that he tell us about the "gas chambers" he saw at Auschwitz and Dachau?]

No reputable historian can dispute its awful existence,

[How about an ordinary person? I'm not a reputable historian. Let's make this clear. I'm not an historian at all. Stalin had his reputable historians, and Mao, and how many other tyrants – would we leave Adolf off the list? As a class, historians are no more trustworthy than, as a class, gas station attendants – with regard to this matter perhaps less so. If I were going to choose one honest man from a group of working men who support the ideal of open debate or a herd of professors who are against open debate, I'd know which way to go. It wouldn't be toward the classroom.]

to the contrary. I realize that you might defend your actions by citing freedom of the press and speech

[Just don't go too far down this dangerous road, eh?]

still, accepting an advertisement from people who hate and/or are unwilling to accept reality is not acceptable.

I join with Michael Zimmerman and all others who are deeply saddened by your actions.

Keith Voelker, economics professor

Dear Editor:

While I recognize, and vociferously defend, the right to free speech

[Except with regard to the H. story, however – please try to keep that in mind as I advise you about a free press.]

we should realize that "free speech" needs limitations

[Yes, yes, no debate on the H. story.]

One example is the "right" to yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

[This old canard is repeated again and again by the professors and the people at the ADL. And if the theater were on fire?]

Another example is hate speech.

[Expressing doubt about the Auschwitz gas chamber for example, which is a fraud, is hate speech – see how it works?]

I think you need to reconsider the publication of such hate speech as the anti-Semitic diatribe regarding the Holocaust. Give it some thought.

At last! Ten letters from ten professors who have nothing specific to say about the text they are criticizing, including of course those who haven't even seen it – if any of them have – in the last sentence of the last letter, one of these professors suggests that the staff of the Advance-Titan give the matter "some thought."

I'll be damned!

That's all I want. That's all I asked for. That's what open debate is. Two or more people giving it some thought! This was too complicated for the historians, the English teachers, the philosophers and psychologists, the biologists and music teachers and even half the economics professors. But one of 'em got it right. I'm very, very pleased.

The one mature, open-minded letter run in this issue of the Advance-Titan is by a student. I suppose he is paying the price for it.

Dear Editor:

An ad in last week's Advance-Titan seems to have caused some controversy on campus. The ad is funded by the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust and seems to imply that the Holocaust either never happened or that its details have been greatly exaggerated.

[Bravo! "...or greatly exaggerated." It's so easy when you actually read the text. It's not even necessary to use the word "exaggerated." Nobody asked me.]

It is my belief that this ad has as much right to run as any other ad.

The ad is not prejudiced in its nature, its merely requesting a deeper look at a dark side of world history. If all of what's currently believed about historical events is accepted as the absolute truth, we are only hurting ourselves.

Even topics as unsettling as the Holocaust should be open for review and debate. People have the right to do this in our free country.

Opinions have the right to be aired, even if we disagree with them. The people who seem to be most critical in this instance are self-proclaimed intellectuals. An intellectual is supposed to think and ponder history, not discourage such thoughts, especially at a university where leaders pride themselves on their openness to new ideas.

Groups like CODOH deserve the chance to air their views, no matter how disagreeable they might be. Without this freedom, we have censorship, a kind of censorship similar to which was practiced by the Nazis.

[Oh! What are you saying? This is just too good!]

The intent of these groups is to raise eyebrows and upset many people. CODOH's opinions are least effective when they are allowed to air freely and fall on deaf ears. Let's allow that to happen from now on.

Brad Zibung, UW-Oshkosh student.

Well, I'm interested in more than raising eyebrows and upsetting people. When someone tries to tell the truth, there are always upset feelings, no matter what professors with immature inner lives tell you. Look at Germar Rudolf's paper on The Gas Chambers at Auschwitz and Majdanek and ask yourself why a professor, any professor, would not want students to know that such a paper – and many more like it – exists.

And then we have the responses of the Advance-Titan editor Stefanie Scott and ad manager Laura Denissen.

The Advance-Titan, September 23, 1998

Censorship Is Not An Answer

by Stefanie Scott. Editor in Chief

The Advance-Titan, in its role as a college newspaper, serves UW-Oshkosh as a forum for debate.

Recently some university employees questioned why an ad from the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, which questions the authenticity of the Holocaust, was allowed to run in the Sept. 16 issue of the Advance-Titan.

First, let me say that ads are not editorials and are not necessarily the opinion of the staff members.

However, the First Amendment makes it clear that everyone has the right to be heard. I would not have printed the ad if it were seditious or libelous.

The ad is stated in the form of a question, leaving readers to ponder the issue and make up their own minds as to what is fact or what is fiction.

Our readership is primarily students and university employees who I believe are intelligent enough o weigh the ad against other thins they have read or viewed including movies, documentaries and text books. It is not the Advance-Titan's job to shelter its readers from other peoples' thoughts and ideas.

If you disagree with an ad or our policies, I encourage you to write a letter to the editor. And of course the same paid ad space is valuable to print your thoughts and ideas on events and issues.

Censorship is not the answer. Where do you draw the line?

The people that don't believe the ad should have been run are the same people that protest book banning and other infringements regarding freedom of speech.

Not to be outdone, Laura Denissen, who I suspect took a lot of punishment for having sold me the ad in the first place, wrote the following piece for the same issue.

The Advance-Titan, September 23, 1998

The Constitution Backs Us Up

by Laura Denissen, Ad Sales Manager

There has been a lot of controversy concerning an advertisement that ran in the Advance-Titan. By this time most people know the issue, page and what the ad concerned.

Before I begin to argue my points, let me say that I am writing this response as a student, although I also am the ad sales manager for the Advance-Titan.

When I first received phone calls from concerned parties airing their opinions, I was open to comments. Being a student I felt almost obligated to listen to these people, mostly because they were professors and others status-oriented people.

As I listened, I heard remarks such as "I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but I think you should have done..." and "I know from talking to you that you're intelligent enough to rethink your decision if this happens again" and "It seems that yet another student newspaper staff has been successfully manipulated."

Now, if anything, I feel manipulated by my own educators, and I see something wrong with that. Please do not patronize me and think so low of me that I would be willing to believe something just because it appears in the newspaper, or that because we received money, we would print anything.

After reading the letters that have been sent in, its obvious that most of these people jumped on a bandwagon and wrote a letter just to support a seemingly popular opinion.

One person said she hadn't even read or seen the advertisement yet she wrote a letter. What does that say for a reputable complaint? If anything, it makes me feel more comfortable in my decision to run the ad.

Secondly, many letters voiced opinions reflecting the idea that constitutionally, it might have been all right for the Advance-Titan to publish the ad, but we also had the right to refuse it.

Yes, we do have the right to refuse advertisements (again, thanks to the Constitution), but according to our policy (and several other student and community publications that I have called and interviewed concerning this issue), the ad met the requirements to run; it was not seditious, libelous or sexually blatant.

This leads us back to the Constitution. I'm not sure if people really do not fully understand what privileges and rights this piece of writing does for us, but without it most of us would not be here today to speak our minds at all.

The job of a newspaper is to reflect society and its opinions. This includes all people.

Would you not teach those individuals who felt differently about religion or sex or anything for that matter? Of course not.

It's against the law, just as it would have been if we refused to print the advertisement because we didn't like it.

They were mere words, and people are entitled to their opinions. Who am I, or who is anyone else to say otherwise?

We are not about censorship and protected opinions. The ad may have warranted some heated feelings, but I'm sure that was the intention of those who placed it.

If you feel so strongly about the questions asked, then take it up with them, or go to their Web site which has links to the Jewish Defense League's site (the opposite side of the issue). After all, that is what they requested. You can even get paid for it.

Additionally, if your opinions are so strong, let these people talk and feel good knowing you are right. Who are we to stop higher thinking and questioning? Is that the intention of higher education altogether?

I surely hope not, because if so, then I missed that when I came to this university and started paying tuition.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Frank Scott , Timothy Lovelace , Susan Mcfadden , Alan Lareau , Baron Perlman , Dana K. Hahn , Kimberly Rivers , Ron Rindo , Keith Voelker , Brad Zibung , Laura Denissen
Title: "Censorship is Not an Answer", Reactions to CODOH ad at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Sources: The Advance Titan, 23/09/1998
  • Bradley R. Smith: comments
Published: 1998-09-30
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 28, 1998, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
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