Discussion Topic

Holocaust Denier Gets Three Years. He’s being prosecuted under a 1992 law, which criminalizes denying, grossly playing down, approving, or trying to excuse “the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media.”

I don’t really understand the basis for this law. Don’t get me wrong—anyone who tries to deny or minimize the Holocaust is cruel and idiotic, not to mention a pathetically desperate attention-seeker, and ought to be completely ostracized from any serious public discourse. But I’m not sure I get why it’s a criminal offense. And I say that even though I’d happily see this guy and all the guys like him ought to cast off to a remote island populated with starving rabid hyenas, along with anyone who says things like tsunamis and hurricanes are god’s punishment against gays, or that AIDS is divine retribution for unholy behavior.

And why not the same law for denying, say, Pol Pot’s massacre of two million Cambodians? Is it just because no one’s bothering to deny that? And why isn’t it criminal to ignore what’s happening in Darfur, which so far has lead to the deaths of at least 180,000 people by slaughter and starvation, and 1.8 million displaced people, especially when it’s going on now and we could do something about it?

Just kind of thinking aloud here, and interested in your thoughts. I certainly don’t want this to be read as some sort of deranged apologia for Holocaust deniers, because that’s not remotely what I intend. They’re scum. I’m just wondering, even though Holocaust denial is enormously offensive, why it is criminal? Should it be? What do you think?

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