General Question

Myndecho's avatar

Should we be able to deny the Holocaust?

Asked by Myndecho (948points) May 26th, 2009

How come in a free and open society countries like German and Italy makes it illegal to deny the Holocaust?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

61 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

Many millions of people died during the Holocaust. This is 100% complete fact, the Nazis kept meticulous records about all of this, those who lived from the camps have tattoo numbers, etc.

Denying the Holocaust is bad enough to warrant being illegal because many times it is used to start off on hatred towards Jews. Basically, there is no sensible reason to deny the holocaust, and most who do are huge racists and extremists who do not look at the facts at all.

I think one of the overall reasons for this is that if people start thinking it didn’t happen, people may fall into the same train of thought that made it occur in the first place, thus raising the odds of another genocide sometime in the future.

jackfright's avatar

we deny lots of things already, don’t we?

perhaps it should be made a law to deny things as a whole rather than limit the law to any specific event.

Myndecho's avatar

@dynamicduo
You seem to have no sympathy for the people who reject it. Your seeing it from your point of view, racial intolerant should be illegal, denying something you don’t think happening is part of freedom of speech.

dynamicduo's avatar

@Myndecho I don’t have sympathy for them. They pretend that the Holocaust didn’t happen. This is a lie, how loud do I have to say it? The Holocaust happened. This is fact. There is no argument to be had here whatsoever.

By all means, I don’t care to stifle their speech, I didn’t make the laws. But I sure as hell will tell them how fucking stupid they are if they try to deny the Holocaust. And then I won’t talk to them ever again. See how easy that is?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Freedom of speech is a tricky subject. I don’t think we have enough freedom of speech at the moment, due to societal conventions. Particular religions don’t like to be called out as violent, misleading, or damaging. People use the term ‘racist’ far too quickly, and other societal stigmas.
As far as denying the Holocaust goes, I think that people should have the freedom to deny it, although I hold a deep loathing for such people. It is shameful to deny it, but ethically the state should not have the power to dictate what people think and say. I do not think it should be illegal, particularly because illegal activities hold a certain attractiveness to certain sectors of society. It is a fact that the Holocaust happened, and those who deny it either have an ulterior motive of anti-Semitism or a severe tendency to gullibility – but it is not worth making it illegal.

Myndecho's avatar

@Myndecho
For hypothetical sake, lets pretend I seen a lot of videos that gave good evidence that it didn’t happen, I’m just a Innocent person, I don’t hate Jews but it’s against the law that I can say I think it didn’t, that’s ok?

TaoSan's avatar

I am German, my grandparents had plenty of “real” stories. There is only one motive to deny the holocaust, to spur hate and discrimination. freedom of speech, freedom of speech. I’m tired of freedom of speech if it creates unemployed idiots with shaved heads that troll around trying to find someone to beat up.

Do not forget, the Timothy McVeighs and Theodore Kazcynskis of this world are products of misguided ideologies allowed to fester under the umbrella of freedom of speech in otherwise healthy societies.
(Not that we are a healthy society here in the US)

Critter38's avatar

As much as I hate to say it, yes we should be able to deny the holocaust.

Not because such statements themselves benefit society or represent truth, but because the organized prevention of statements that are deemed unacceptable by any authority is a far more serious threat to free society than any single false statement (in my opinion). I also wonder if such prevention provides weight to conspiratorial arguments often made by holocaust deniers.

To me it is only the direct incitement of violence towards individuals which I can see as a legitimate area for restriction. In these cases the restriction is due to the illegality of the act being encouraged that should be stopped. Although I openly acknowledge that I can find areas of extreme difficulty as to whether restricting speech may result in better or worse outcomes for society

Christopher Hitchens makes an interesting speech on this very topic here.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6379618149058958603

Happy to change my mind, but those are my current views.

TaoSan's avatar

A lurve for the link to a very beautiful speech, that will unfortunately never reach the IQ45 queue ball heads that are roaming Brandenburg right now hoping to find a Jew or dark skinned person to give them a good bashing.

Intellectually, I do agree with you. Unfortunately, the world is not made up of intellectual thinkers but a lot of idiots that need to be regulated in societal frameworks.

Myndecho's avatar

@dynamicduo
Like I said I disagree with racial intolerant so don’t use this in your repeal because I said I also disagree, why shouldn’t people be able to deny the Holocaust?

dynamicduo's avatar

@Myndecho How about you tell me a few reasons why people should be able to deny the holocaust. Please don’t put down “free speech” as you’ve already mentioned it.

Myndecho's avatar

@dynamicduo
“free speech” is still a valid point unlike racial intolerant which isn’t synonymous with freedom of speech, I disagree with racial intolerant . By denying the Holocaust you are exercising your rights to think and ask questions.

Fyrius's avatar

@dynamicduo: I think free speech is the only reason he needs.

If the Holocaust is so undeniably factually true, as I agree it is, then let the evidence and the arguments destroy the credibility of its denial. Let wrong beliefs be heard, and be publicly debunked through argumentation, if this can be done so easily.

But don’t let politicians decide for other people what they are and are not allowed to believe.

brettvdb's avatar

What’s a holocaust?

westy81585's avatar

You’re allowed to here in the US (and in fact some people do)... But the rest of the country has the right to call you out for being the retard you are if you say that nonsense.

It’s illegal in germany because they went through it and they dont’ want to go through it again. Forget your history and you’re doomed to repeat it, has taken a special interest to them I guess. Their country though, the law could be repealed at any time, but it seems to be pretty popular.

galileogirl's avatar

@Myndecho Sorry Pal, Your argument is fallacious. First of all, the American version of freedom of speech is not universally accepted. Like many Amerocentrics, you are projecting our values on other traditions and cultures. Take a hint, the values of undereducated Americans are not always right.

First of all, our Constitution does not allow any ignoramus the right to spew any lie he pulls out of his ass at any time and any place. The 1st Amendment does not allow the government to make laws that infringe on freedom of speech. Over the centuries that has been refined to prevent people from expressing themselves in ways that are detrimental to the greater good. That is there are laws against libel, slander, and free speech in carrying out dangerous or criminal activities.

We do allow for a fairly wide open interpretation of what can be expressed which leads to a lot of anti-intellectual foolishness and lies that can be disseminated in our country. But remember, freedom of speech is not protected in private situations. Your employer, your schools, your HOA etc, can and often do limit speech.

And just because our government allows people a certain freedom when it comes to fictionalizing history, other countries take a different stance. They have seen lies and manipulation of the ignorant lead to world wars. Their citizens have decided that lying, especially by the government, can be too dangerous. Maybe we should learn from them and give people, especially politicians, consequences for lying us into wars. We probably should also ridicule and marginalize those who would try and pass off fairy tales as fact. The sad thing about many Americans is that we can’t take the time to learn so we fall for any snake oil salesman who passes through.

Myndecho's avatar

@galileogirl
First off I’m from the UK, I’m not going by your laws and rights.
denying the Holocaust isn’t a hate speech or against the Jews in anyway, it could be used for that but by default it isn’t.
I will also have to say why?

galileogirl's avatar

Denying history is propagating ignorance. Is that what you are in favor of, Captain Ramsey? Anti-Semitism as promulgated by the Nazis was hate speech.

Myndecho's avatar

@galileogirl
Lets say I’m a normal person I don’t hate Jews but I have seen a lot of evidence that the Holocaust didn’t happen just as some people believe the earth is flat still, should I be arrested for that or saying it out loud?

hiiiiiiii's avatar

“Denying history is propagating ignorance.”
Same could be said of religion lets ban religion :) and religion is used for hate speeches too.

galileogirl's avatar

@Myndecho “Let’s say I’m a normal person” That’s way too far a reach. There is no ‘evidence’ that the Holocaust didn’t happen. There are lots of claims not supported by facts, wrapped in pseudohistory that can’t stand up to examination on the one hand and the bones of millions and written, filmed and eyewitness testimony on the other.

@hiiiii WTF are you talking about? Denying religion is promulgating ignorance?

jfos's avatar

@galileogirl I don’t think @Myndecho is claiming to have evidence disproving the Holocaust, he/she is just making an example that if someone had any reasonable or unreasonable basis for believing that the Holocaust never happened, it shouldn’t be punishable for this person to express themselves so.

Myndecho's avatar

@galileogirl
Maybe not good evidence but their is evidence never the less, you are even too reluctant to accept there’s maybe some points that may lead people to believe it didn’t even happen, I could say the same for the flat earth society.

Not everyone who questions the Holocaust is anti-Semitic, using it for a hate speech, maybe these people truly believe it didn’t happen, the same with the people who believe 9/11 was done by the government.

P.S. I believe it did happen

hiiiiiiii's avatar

@galileogirl
Because what happened in the bible is not even close to what the evidences shows us

galileogirl's avatar

Don’t try and play word games, Bucko. You are not equipped for it. There is direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Not good evidence is just not evidence. The only people who deny the Holocaust was anti-Semetic are ignorant.

Again hiiii, I think you are on the wrong thread.

hiiiiiiii's avatar

@galileogirl
My friend thinks it didn’t happen and he isn’t against Jews, or are you going to tell me he is?

noelasun's avatar

The holocaust;
Well, denying the holocaust seems to me a different matter than declaring the earth to be flat.
The Holocaust is something that is strongly related to a group of people.
It is one thing to state your opinion. But when it is a statement that disregards acts against a group of people,
Its no longer just saying what you think but disrespecting the lives and experiences of others.

Myndecho's avatar

@galileogirl
Word games? Is there’s something wrong with you?
I can’t be bothered with you I think we can all see you are unwilling to even accept some people may just believe it without being anti-semetic.

Do you think the flat earth society are also anti-science?

Myndecho's avatar

@noelasun
But if they truly feel that way and are not trying to be racist, should they be arrested?

noelasun's avatar

No, they shouldn’t be arrested.
good question, btw… lots of thinking happening early in the morning.

In a perfect world, I don’t think laws like this should ever exist.
But we are a very prone to stupidity peoples, and.. our laws tend to reflect our faults.

Myndecho's avatar

@noelasun
The majority of the people prone to believe this are normally people with racist views, or maybe the rest of us are scared to even read the evidence because we may get branded so it’s unlikely we will ever get persuaded.
It’s hard to define what are just innocent views and what’s a hate speech.

galileogirl's avatar

@hiiiiiiii Your friend is in denial about at least 2 things then.

@Myndecho I believe the flat earth society has no connection to science.

Are YOU afraid to learn the truth? (as in some of us) I don’t think fear is the reason for most people, just a mental flabbiness.

YARNLADY's avatar

Sure, I’m a big proponent of this saying “Keep you mouth closed and be thought ignorant, or open it and remove all doubt”.

Keep in mind, that other countries do not guarantee the freedom of speech that is part of the Constitution of the United States.

TaoSan's avatar

Holocaust denial = Hate speech and that’s that.

Take a trip to Auschwitz, have a look into the burners, see the blue Zyklon B spots in the shower and the families crying in there for their lost grandparents, then we’ll talk about this again.

Myndecho's avatar

@TaoSan
How so, if you think it didn’t happen how is it a hate speech? You just went “Holocaust denial = Hate speech and that’s that.” with nothing to back it up.
How believable it is doesn’t matter

TaoSan's avatar

@Myndecho

Again, go to Auschwitz, then we’ll talk about this again. How about this, 9/11 didn’t happen, I think it was a freak accident?

Fyrius's avatar

@galileogirl: It seems you’re relying on the premise that whether a view should be legally allowed to be voiced hinges on whether it’s actually true (1). I think the latter should be irrelevant to the former. The right to free speech includes the right to say things that are mind-bogglingly wrong.

Why outlaw telling falsehoods? If it’s so clearly false, why not let them open the debate and then crush their position under the mountains of evidence you’re so confident about? That would be an intellectually honest approach.
And that way you might even manage to talk some sense into the holocaust deniers. Otherwise, they will keep their silence, but they will continue to believe it never happened without ever getting a chance to hear any serious criticism on their position.

(1) Do let me know if I mischaracterise your position.

Myndecho's avatar

@TaoSan
And that would be your right to say “9/11 didn’t happen, I think it was a freak accident?” I don’t think you should be arrested.

TaoSan's avatar

I’m tired of this, lemme give you the back up you so desire Myndecho. I am German, my grandpa was a member of the SS. He didn’t hate Jews, he didn’t hate anyone, but he had to kill them for fear of him or his family being killed himself if he wouldn’t play along.

I was a little boy watching a grown man sob like a girl day in day out until he finally killed himself because he couldn’t live with what he has done. Your freedom of speech you so desire rubs these traumatic childhood experiences and this horrible horrible shame for my family history under my nose with every line of this crap I have to read. Great, freedom of speech hooray.

Myndecho's avatar

@TaoSan
Read what Fyrius said.
Freedom of speech isn’t always great but we have to listen to views we don’t like so we have the rights to say what we want.

TaoSan's avatar

BECAUSE SKINHEADS DON’T GO TO DEBATES TO BE CRUSHED ffs are you all…cheeesh

Sorry about that folks, but do you think a bunch of holocaust denying skinheads have any interest in going to freedom of speech debates to be debunked???? The only thing getting debunked in those circles is your skull….erch.

galileogirl's avatar

@Fyrius I don’t know where you got that. Try reading my original post. If the people of a country decide that nonsense like Holocaust denial, belief that the earth is flat or (watch out-here it comes) creationism are free speech, so be it.

Just because that is the case in the US, that doesn’t mean it is the only way. I think the people of Germany have the right to make Holocaust denial and neo-Nazism illegal also. Americans need to get a grip-our way is not the only way. It wouldn’t hurt if the Japanese came to grips with their history and placed a little less emphasis on being victims and were more forthright about their aggression and the millions who died at their hands.

Fyrius's avatar

@TaoSan
I agree with Myndecho that a simple historical assertion should not inherently be considered hate speech without taking the context into consideration. Even if it’s bunk and even if it’s usually used by anti-semitists.
Furthermore, appealing to emotions is a fallacy. I’m sorry for your and your grandfather’s traumatic memories, but I don’t think they constitute an adequate reason for a legal ban on holocaust denial.

I don’t care whether the skinhead themselves are going to listen to the debate. My point is that crushing their position would be an intellectually honest way to ensure nobody else subscribes to their position even if they are allowed to openly voice it.
By oppressing their position and keeping it quiet instead, they actually have a more attractive position now. If they were openly debunked they would be thought of as a bunch of loonies just like the Flat Earth Society or the Tinfoil Hat crowd. If they’re underground they’re intellectual martyrs the government is trying to hide.

Fyrius's avatar

@galileogirl: I see. Mea culpa.
Can I interpret that to mean you agree with my position on the correlation between truth and legality to be expressed instead (i.e. there is none), or does it mean you’re undecided, or none of the above?

I got that idea from the fact that you guys were talking about whether it’s reasonable to deny the holocaust. I don’t think this issue is even on-topic.

I’m Dutch, by the way. You might actually be the only American in here.

TaoSan's avatar

@Fyrius

You must be an optimist and have some confidence in human nature left in you. You’re basically saying that if you have a tumor, you’d heal it by telling the cells around it that the tumor is bad, thus the cells will be all levelheaded and not turn into tumor cells.

Good luck with that.

Where does it stop??? Today it’s okay to deny the holocaust. Tomorrow (in light of freedom to congregate) we let all the holocaust deniers unite, and you know what, let them even wear nice uniforms preferably brown with red/white armbands, hey it’s freedom, all we have to do is publicly debunk what they say on an intellectual level.

Oh wait, all this happened before, in 1933….

Fyrius's avatar

@TaoSan: Yes I am, and yes I do.

Your tumour analogy borders on the nonsensical. I’d give it a try without a moment’s hesitation if cells showed any sign of having a mind of their own, that can be talked into doing things. But cells are just dumb machines.
People on the other hand are not mindless automatons, and I do not approve of condescending to them as such. I also do not approve of deforming people’s positions by saying “you’re basically saying” and following that up with a reductio ad absurdum. I’m basically not saying that at all.

And even if you do insist on thinking of people as automatons, I’m still much more inclined to think they would react to a relentlessly debunked assertion with ridicule than with viral acceptance, like cells converting to tumour. Are you seriously afraid these skinheads might convince people the holocaust never happened?

The only people I’ve witnessed successfully getting uneducated people to seriously consider a point of view that goes against all evidence would be the Creationists, but they’re backed up by a powerful political lobby and a connection to the dominant religion. Skinheads aren’t in nearly as favourable a position.

The slippery slope argument is another fallacy. Where does it stop? It stops where we decide it stops. What reason have you to assume we couldn’t stop it before it gets out of hand?
With the appeal to emotion and the reductio ad absurdum, that’s your third now. You’re on a roll.

TaoSan's avatar

@Fyrius

you make a good argument and you formulate it well. I respect that. But I can also read from it that you haven’t lived in the eastern regions of Berlin-Brandenburg.

It’s a very different reality there. People aren’t generally “automatons”. The problem is, that all it takes is one charismatic leader determined to achieve. It didn’t take an army of Hitlers, only one. These circles are breeding grounds for exactly that. Over 11% unemployed, income still far less then in the west, victim mentality. There are certain towns where merely being on your intellectual level might get you in a nasty bar brawl.

In the arms race between intellectual informed exchange and sick twisted ideologies festering in dark corners of society I rather slap a handicap on those that are on a mission to breed this kind of hate. May I remind you that the NDP, a party affiliated with skin heads and neo-nazi networks are <> this close to actually gaining a seat in the Bundestag?

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaldemokratische_Partei_Deutschlands

the English version isn’t as comprehensive

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaldemokratische_Partei_Deutschlands

I know this article is in German, so pretty much useless here. But just for giggles, look at those election billboards.

Extremism is on the rise again, and holocaust denial is their favorite “hot topic”. They draw most of their followers by denying the holocaust claiming Israel is “defrauding” Germany for payments.

TaoSan's avatar

@Fyrius

Too late to edit, sorry for double quipping.

I know you feel you make the better argument, and in a perfect world, you actually would. I very truly wish I could wholeheartedly agree with you, except, I have witnessed neo-nazi propaganda, live, in it’s heart land. I have seen the people silently nod at their hate speech events, I have seen people that have been unemployed for years on end getting that glow in their eyes. Why again did we pay reparation to Israel whilst I’m getting screwed here?

I lived there, right in the middle of it all. I’ve been exposed to it on a daily basis, in buses and trams, and grocery stores. It is not something to be belittled. The academic/intellectual class laughed at the idea that the little man from Austria could have any political success with his radical beerhouse rants just as much as you claim now it stops when we decide it stops. There is indeed such a thing as intellectual ignorance.

brettvdb's avatar

@TaoSan Agreed – it’s too easy to criticize and comment from an ivory tower.

Myndecho's avatar

@TaoSan
I would agree with you that better arguments don’t always amount to convincing people, this is why I didn’t try to bring this up in my repeals. More publicity will almost ultimately lead to higher numbers of people believing in it no matter on the points the arguments makes.
I have thought about this and this is a hugely valid point I would have agreed with galileogirl if she made.
I’m still going to stick with freedom of speech and just try my best at convincing them it’s not true.

TaoSan's avatar

@Myndecho

The question you have brought up is a very good one, and men and women much smarter and versed in this issue than us here have failed to come up with a sensible solution.

Where should freedom of speech end for the greater good, who is to decide over such things. On the grander scale, these are very profound societal issues. In the case of Germany and holocaust denial, I think it is good the way it is.

Good discussion!

Fyrius's avatar

@TaoSan: Thank you.

I must admit I don’t know your local political situation, and can’t look it up, so in that regard you have the high ground here. This argument is out of my reach. I can’t evaluate it.
I can only take your word for it – and I hate doing that. ]:(

(Edit: Ah, references. Great. Thanks. I’ll have a look. I’ll even give the German article a try, in full knowledge that my German reeks to high heaven.)

Well, assuming this is true, you do have a point. I suppose my optimistic philosophy hinges on a situation where all arguments are heard and people are not collectively biased towards either side.

Still, to counteract neo-Nazism by stifling free speech… It might be the lesser evil when lives are at stake, but ideologically speaking, I think it’s a bit like going out of the frying pan into the fire. Particularly in terms of resembling dictatorship.

TaoSan's avatar

@Fyrius

I very wholeheartedly agree with your last post [ hrrmpf :) ]

YARNLADY's avatar

See, that’s the hardest thing to accept about freedom of speech. People are actually free to say things that are not popular or even not true. They can even oppose the government and it’s policies. The line to draw is with criminal behavior, such as cheating to get votes (and sometimes they even get away with that), or violent overthrow of the existing government.

Abraham Lincoln said it best “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

For example, look at Germany today…....

Myndecho's avatar

@YARNLADY
I like this one.
“If you tell a lie long enough, loud enough and often enough, the people will believe it.”-Adolph Hitler

dannyc's avatar

I actually like to give people the freedom to deny stuff like this, because then I know exactly what type of lunatic I am dealing with and act appropriately on whatever other pronouncements they utter.

amoreno06's avatar

ahem it should not be illegal to say the holocaust didn’t happen.
but if you were to say so, i hope that there would be someone to show you otherwise with all the evidence of it indeed happening.
or just of you being educated enough to try and find out just so you know and not be deemed ignorant of the subject should you ever come about it in conversation.

dannyc's avatar

Denial of the truth of the Holocaust is a crime to man’s intellect, but free will to do so should be defended. It can shine a light on the psyche that perpertrated this gross inhumanity, and in that sense is useful.

Fyrius's avatar

“A crime to man’s intellect”? Aren’t you exaggerating a bit now?

V_Scofield's avatar

Holocaust denial is one of the very few times I disagree with freedom of speech. It’s 100% proven fact with tons of evidence and I hate it when facts are denied, especially facts like this. Denial of the Holocaust is the seed of hatred, which leads to the lowest point of humanity and the potential for another Holocaust that would also be denied. To remember is to honor the dead and prevent others from meeting the same end.

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