Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Backlash at jailing of historian who denied Holocaust

Still some concern for free speech in Britain

David Irving, the far-right British historian, sat stunned and open-mouthed yesterday when an Austrian court found him guilty of denying the Holocaust and sentenced him to three years in jail. "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal," Irving, 67, said as he was bundled out of the Vienna courtroom by armed anti-riot police. From the public gallery a British supporter shouted "Stay strong, David", before he too was led away.

But in Britain there was dismay at a verdict that could turn Irving into a right-wing martyr. Irving had pleaded guilty to denying the Holocaust in two speeches in Austria in 1989. He was arrested when he re-entered the country, where it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, last November, and had been in custody since.

During his seven-hour trial yesterday Irving sought to convince the jury that he had changed his mind and now acknowledged the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court. But the judge and jury were unswayed. One hundred and fifty-eight people have been convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria between 1999 and 2004, but only a handful other than Irving have been imprisoned.

Lord Janner of Braunstone, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was pleased by the conviction. He said: "It sends a clear message to the world that we must not tolerate the denial of the mass murderers of the Holocaust. The Nazis tried to wipe out an entire people . . . We must learn the lessons of the past to build a decent society for the future."

The verdict came amid a furious debate in Europe over freedom of expression, with many defending the media's right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The Arabic television station al-Jazeera broadcast the verdict to its Islamic audience.

Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, was recently acquitted of making speeches inciting racial hatred. Abu Hamza, the radical Islamic cleric, was sentenced last week to seven years in prison for inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder.

In Britain there was alarm at the sentence. "Anyone who denies the Holocaust is off their rocker," Gerald Howarth, Tory MP for Aldershot, said. "But to send a man to prison for three years for something that he said sixteen years ago and has since changed his view - what are we coming to?" Anthony Beevor, the military historian, said: "However nauseating, these people should be confronted in debate rather than chucked into jail and turned into martyrs."

The verdict will end for good the career of a man banned from a dozen countries from Canada to South Africa for belittling the murder of the Jews and glorifying Hitler. In 2000 Irving was forced into bankruptcy when he unsuccessfully sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic who had called him a Holocaust denier. He was ordered to pay 3 million pounds in legal costs and had to sell his Mayfair home.

She said yesterday: "He should have been met by the sound of one hand clapping. The one thing he deserves, he really deserves, is obscurity."

(From The Times)

And another good comment:

"A few Austrians, such as Lothar Hobelt, an associate professor of history at the University of Vienna, believe it should never have been set up at all.

"This is a silly law by silly people for silly people," he said. "In fact, having a law that says you mustn't question a particular historical instance, if anything, creates doubt about it, because if an argument has to be protected by the force of law, it means it's a weak argument.""


My name is Robert xxxxxx and my wife and I are teachers in xxxxxx in Florida. My daughter is a 10th grader who also attends xxxxxx High in xxxxxx County. A few days ago, my wife got a phone call from their assistant principal saying Robyn, my daughter, was written up and sent to the office. Her biology teacher said that Robyn was voicing her disapproval of having a new Gay Alliance club at xxxxxx. Robyn said that by allowing this volunteer gay club, they were putting a stamp of approval on it. The biology teacher said that Robyn should respect student's right to be gay. My daughter, Robyn, said "You give those people that right, but you won't give my Lacrosse team funding or recognize it as a school sport." The assistant principal said if Robyn continues to "show disrespect" to Ms xxxxxx, she will face the consequences. My wife said, "I can't tell my daughter to change her belief or not voice it if it challenges her faith." "My daughter is a Christian." The API replied by saying, "I'm a Christian, too, but I must protect their right to sin."

My point is, "Where do we draw the line?" Should our concern for "political correctness" and civil rights/liberties govern our actions in daily life to a point that we entrust our minor children with important eternal lifestyle decisions? Sexual orientation, birth control, and abortion to name a few. Many children in high school are asked to make adult decisions that they are not qualified to make. And yet her school won't even fund or host the sport she plays so passionately. Where's the value system here?

My fear is that our "cradle to grave" government control of our children will result to a generation that will lack passion, drive, moral and ethical values, and will no longer view human life as valuable, precious, and irreplaceable. The truth is, God did! That is why Jesus died for us. I also fear that society will use our "right" to protect our "wrongs" to a point that 2+2 can equal whatever you want it to. I guess this philosophy will help with "standardized testing" but to what standards... The only standards that we can be tested on are God's standards as written in His word!

More here

Campus Liberal Commits a "Hate Crime"?

No doubt he will weasel his way out of it -- with the co-operation of all concerned

A contributor to Cornell University's "premier liberal voice" has been charged with stabbing a black student on the university's campus after using "racial epithets" toward him. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, Nathan Poffenbarger [Class of] '08, a regular contributor to the campus magazine, "Turn Left" was charged with second-degree assault, a class "D" felony, after allegedly stabbing a visiting student on West Campus during an altercation on Saturday (February 18).

Police said the attack stemmed from a racial incident. "Witnesses told police Poffenbarger was yelling racial remarks at someone else, when the victim, a black male student, stepped in to stop him. The victim's name has not been released," News10 reported. According to the Ithaca Journal, Poffenbarger is white.

Capt. Kathy Zoner of the Cornell Police Department, told the Sun that the current charges could be elevated to class "C" under hate-crime statutes "if racial motivations are proven."

Wayne Huang , the former editor-in-chief of "Turn Left," confirmed that Poffenbarger was a regular contributor to the magazine. Huang and "Turn Left" staff member Josh Perlman both said they were "shocked" to learn Poffenbarger had been arrested in this matter:

"He had written a lot of good news pieces for us," said [Perlman]. "I had spoken to him earlier that day about a new article he was going to be doing. He didn't seem weird or anything when I spoke to him, just enthusiastic to be writing as he usually was. I was extremely shocked to hear about all this. This seems really out of character."

According to "Turn Left's" website, its mission statement is to "uphold and maintain tolerant and respectful political dialogue on the campus, promote and practice an ideology rooted in the belief of equality and freedom."

Emergency workers took the victim to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira where he is in stable condition, the Sun reported.


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