Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Irving walks

The British historian and infamous holocaust denier, David Irving, has been released on probation after an Austrian appeals court ruled in his favour. He is to be deported to the UK tomorrow.

Irving's jailing came after he returned to Austria some 17 years after he gave a speech in the country denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz. He was arrested last year when he returned to deliver a speech to a group of far right students.

It is, I think, a good day for Austrian justice if not a particularly savoury one for the rest of us. However unpalatable Irving's views are he should not have been locked up. We cannot have democratised societies which seek to criminalise a particular view or argument. Although the government is leading us that way with its wrong-headed legislation on incitement to religious hatred. Time and again the best way to defeat people like Irving is by rubbishing their spurious scholarship and baseless claims, exposing it for the casuistry and sophism that it is.


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