Dr Fredrick Toben's arrest should alarm us all

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codarac
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10 Oct 2008, 3:05 pm

Even the fake conservatives at the torygraph were shocked at this story ...

Dr Fredrick Toben's arrest should alarm us all

Daily Telegraph, 5 Oct 2008 (source)

The right to voice unpopular, or even untrue and unpleasant, opinions is essential to free speech - and free speech is one of the most basic values of any liberal democracy.

Free speech cannot flourish when the individual may express only those opinions which the state has decided it will permit. Once that happens, it evokes George Orwell's nightmare of the Ministry of Truth, in which the state throttles all independent thought and destroys free expression completely.

That is why the arrest of Dr Fredrick Toben at Heathrow airport last week is so disturbing. Dr Toben has not committed a crime in this country. His offence is to have published opinions on his website, which he writes from his home in Australia, that question whether the Nazi extermination of the Jews happened.

His opinions are wrong and offensive - but error and offensiveness are not grounds for banning an opinion, still less for imprisoning the individual who expresses it.

Denying the Holocaust is not a crime in Britain but it is illegal in Germany. The German authorities want to punish Dr Toben for his views - and they have asked the courts here to help them. They want Britain to extradite Dr Toben so he can be tried and sentenced for his "thought crimes".

The British legal system should have no part in this process. It is a blatant attack on free speech.

The Government wrongly signed up to the European Arrest Warrant, and to the accelerated procedures for extraditing people arrested in Britain to other EU countries.

Dr Toben's case is precisely the sort of incident which ministers assured us would never happen. They said the warrant was only for terrorists and drug dealers. Now that it is being used to punish opinions, our government and judges have an obligation to throw it out.

<snip>



Fnord
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10 Oct 2008, 3:07 pm

Send him back. Britain has enough slime-balls of its own.


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10 Oct 2008, 4:13 pm

I do not agree with unfettered free speech, especially something as blatantly wrong and inflammatory as this.


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skafather84
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10 Oct 2008, 4:29 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
I do not agree with unfettered free speech, especially something as blatantly wrong and inflammatory as this.



i dunno, even distasteful speech should be protected. that's not to say that the people should tolerate and be polite to the person spouting off the idiocy but he shouldn't be arrested for it.


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10 Oct 2008, 4:37 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
I do not agree with unfettered free speech, especially something as blatantly wrong and inflammatory as this.

Who decides what is wrong and inflammatory enough to be banned? Let the moron hold up his views for public examination so that everyone can see the idiocy of such claims. Better to let him spout this offensive nonsense then to risk trying to balance at the top of the slippery slope.


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DentArthurDent
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10 Oct 2008, 10:44 pm

Many people agree that there should be some kind of 'harm principle' applied to freedom of speech. Here in Australia some states have anti vilification laws making illegal to vilivfy on the basis of race and sexuality. Personally I think this is a good idea.

I do agree that this issue requires careful consideration. Holocaust deniers are fairly clear cut, and should be stopped.


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10 Oct 2008, 11:11 pm

Eh... I've seen this type of thing happen on a smaller scale in real life. "Politically incorrect" views have literally gotten people, students and speakers alike, run off my college campus before, and nearly got a professor fired but for a lawsuit he filed. Not a pleasant environment. A lot of people who under normal circumstances would perceive themselves as being liberal feel themselves to be at risk, lest that one reservation about affirmative action or abortion or pulling out of Iraq or whatever else leads them to also be ostracized. And I'm not kidding, people have had to transfer because of the shitstorm they faced for expressing themselves in an even somewhat politically incorrect manner.

So where did all the pent-up resentments and nasty "hate speech" go? To the Internet, of course. Facebook groups, posts on the college forum, stuff like that. Believe you me, it was probably a hell of a lot nastier there than it would have been in real life, due to anonymity and the time that such thoughts were held but not voiced.

Quashing free speech, however offensive it is, doesn't actually kill the thoughts behind it. It just causes them to be redirected to other, more underground, outlets. It's more trouble than it's worth, and causes more problems in the end, this whole censorship thing. Putting one (or a few) group(s) in a position where they are "untouchable" makes people even more angry and divided rather than less.

Coming from the position of someone who has been on the other side, actually having had offensive things said to me, I'd prefer people not say cruel things. However, forcing them, through laws and social pressure, to adhere to a certain viewpoint will not work.



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11 Oct 2008, 12:17 am

BokeKaeru wrote:
So where did all the pent-up resentments and nasty "hate speech" go? To the Internet, of course. Facebook groups, posts on the college forum, stuff like that. Believe you me, it was probably a hell of a lot nastier there than it would have been in real life, due to anonymity and the time that such thoughts were held but not voiced.

Quashing free speech, however offensive it is, doesn't actually kill the thoughts behind it. It just causes them to be redirected to other, more underground, outlets. It's more trouble than it's worth, and causes more problems in the end, this whole censorship thing. Putting one (or a few) group(s) in a position where they are "untouchable" makes people even more angry and divided rather than less.


see encyclopediadramatica as a prime example of what you're referring to....

EDIT: yeah "Holocaust denial" laws are s**t. Also see David Irving and Ernest Zundel


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codarac
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11 Oct 2008, 9:23 am

This is how debate works in the West –

Person A: I don’t think person C should be allowed to express his opinion. I’m all in favour of free speech except for when it’s inflammatory

Person B: I think person C should be allowed to express his opinion so that everyone can see that he’s wrong anyway

Person A: We’ll just have to agree to disagree, but isn’t it great that we can talk about this openly

Person B: Yes, we’re so lucky to live in an age of free and open discussion

Person C (languishing in a prison cell, bound and gagged): ……..



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11 Oct 2008, 9:27 am

DentArthurDent wrote:
Many people agree that there should be some kind of 'harm principle' applied to freedom of speech. Here in Australia some states have anti vilification laws making illegal to vilivfy on the basis of race and sexuality. Personally I think this is a good idea.

I do agree that this issue requires careful consideration. Holocaust deniers are fairly clear cut, and should be stopped.


They should. For all Jewish people living and dead. For the world.

Holocaust-denying is at best nothing but thinly-veiled hate-speech, and at worst it is Nazi propaganda. If someone can legally deny the Holocaust today, what might he say tomorrow?



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11 Oct 2008, 10:12 am

slowmutant wrote:
Holocaust-denying is at best nothing but thinly-veiled hate-speech, and at worst it is Nazi propaganda. If someone can legally deny the Holocaust today, what might he say tomorrow?


He might say things like

Q: "Did you hear about the new German microwave?"
A: "Seats 500!"

Q: "Why did Hitler kill himself?"
A: "The Jews sent him a gas bill!"


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slowmutant
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11 Oct 2008, 10:16 am

That's not funny.

I should have you banned.



chever
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11 Oct 2008, 10:17 am

Who said it was supposed to be funny?

That's the only thing I could think of more offensive than denying the Holocaust. And you asked the question.


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11 Oct 2008, 10:21 am

The question was rhetorical.



chever
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11 Oct 2008, 10:22 am

Don't ask questions if you don't want answers.


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11 Oct 2008, 10:25 am

Rhetorical questions don't require answers.



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