First they came for the Holocaust Deniers and I said nothing—Because I am not a Holocaust Denier
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April 20 2014
I was thinking, of course, that it's far from the first time that Yoorop (Dutch law) has decided to go against free speech. Although various thoughts have been declared illegal, Holocaust denial is the most salient both because it's the most common and because it's enforced for real.
Now these laws are always argued on two things: the values shared by the society; and the harm which the propagation of those ideas would cause. Such is the case with Holocaust denial, and such is the case with the Dutch ruling, . . . and such is the case, also, with Airstrip One (formally called England)—Orwell's definition: the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous bill being spoken about). "Against our values" and "Cause harm," and there goes free speech.
Now of course I don't really have to argue that Holocaust denial is not against their values, which may well be the case; or that it doesn't cause harm, a more debatable statement but still not central to the point.
The point is that it only takes one thought or (one) speech to be declared illegal to drag any or all other thoughts in its wake!
The first one may indeed be a factually or morally wrong thought or speech, and may indeed be against the society's values, and may indeed cause harm from its diffusion. It's still frankly delusional to think that the same arguments will not be used again and that the precedent of banning one thought and speech will not make it possible and easier to ban another, and even that it will not encourage those interested in banning another thought or speech in launching their legal offensives. I know that logically this is a slippery-slope argument, but in politics slopes really are slippery.
This is why we should defend Holocaust deniers, or racists, or pro-ana and pro-mia, or hooligans, or Stalinists, or anti-monarchists, all also banned in at least parts of Yoorop, or Islamists, or fundie-Christians and Creationists, or zoophiles, or animal advocates, or anyone else whose speech comes under attack, regardless of whether we do not just agree with them ideologically but even of where they stand in relation to us politically. The speech of more fringe or extremist groups protects the speech of all other fringe or extremist groups. And whether or not we like it, we are a fringe or extremist group.
When they come for the Holocaust Deniers, speak out, because then they will come for the pedophiles. Just like it happened in the Netherlands. When they come for the hooligans, speak out, because then they will come for the pedophiles. Just like it happened in Airstrip One.
When I read that final paragraph I felt the brain seize up. Pedophilia? I felt a shock in the heart. It was entirely unexpected. The article uses the same vocabulary I use. Defending the same ideals about intellectual freedom that I defend. And the writer does it in a part of the world where it can be more dangerous than where I do it. But pedophilia? Can I publish this?
I demand that those who detest what I write about Gas-Chamber Denial allow me to write that. But pedophilia? I have been advised to not re-print this article, that it will be bad for business to associate my work with it. I am uncertain myself that it is wise. But I must carry it. Those who do not understand why, may not understand what we are doing here.
And by the way: I had paid no attention to the name of the Website where this article was originally published.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||First they came for the Holocaust Deniers and I said nothing—Because I am not a Holocaust Denier|
|Sources:||Smith's Report, No. 205, May 2014, pp. 9f.; taken from http://www.boychat.org/messages/1391177.htm|
|First posted on CODOH:||May 13, 2014, 7 p.m.|