Today the infamous British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years prison in Austria for the crime of holocaust denial. While I don’t in any way lend support to Irving’s views I’m shocked that in a democratic Western nation it still possible to be jailed for thought crime. On one hand the lawmakers of Europe are beating their chests at their democratic credentials and lambasting other nations for their lack thereof, while simultaneously jailing people for expressing a point of view. To quote the BBC, “[Europe is] ready to cite freedom of expression when it comes to printing cartoons offensive to Muslims, while incarcerating those who insult Jews”. It seems to me that since the end of World War II many Western European nations have adopted an anti-fascist ideology so strong that it is practically fascist in itself.
When the judge in Ivring’s case presented his judgment he stated “the court did not consider the defendant to have genuinely changed his mind”. Where the hell was this judge educated? The Soviet Union? Maoist China perhaps? This is a courtroom quote that could have come straight from a commie show trial.
It’s very clear that holocaust denial is a completely misled view. However, do these people really represent the same threat to society as violent criminals? To quote Christian Fleck “Are we really afraid of someone whose views on the past are palpable nonsense, at a time when every schoolchild knows of the horrors of the Holocaust? Are we saying his ideas are so powerful we can’t argue with him?”.
So long as European nations recognize thought crime they completely undermine their own democratic credentials at a time when it is strongly needed in the world arena.