Monday, March 07, 2005

New Question: Should Hate Literature Be Banned?

A number of democratic countries, including Austria, France, Germany, and Canada, have criminalized various forms of "hate speech", including books judged to disparage minority groups. Should hate literature be banned? How would you define hate literature?

Case in point: In the 1980s, Ernst Zündel was convicted twice under Canada's "false news" laws for publishing Did Six Million Really Die?, a 1974 book denying the Holocaust. On appeal, the Canadian Supreme Court found the "false news" law unconstitutional in 1992, but Zündel is now being prosecuted under Canada's "Human Rights Act" for publishing this book and other material on his Zundelsite. Even so, Deborah Lipstadt and some other prominent critics of Holocaust deniers have gone on record as opposing laws that would censor such speech. (On the other hand, Zündel is quite happy to call for bans for works he doesn't like, though, as seen in this leaflet calling for a ban of Schindler's List. And denier David Irving's attempt to stop publication of Lipstadt's book on Holocaust denial, as seen in the complaint reproduced on Irving's web site, failed when a UK court ruled that Lipstadt's statements about Irving were, in fact, justified.)

See alsobanned book article.


Rebecca said...

I believe that Zundel was recently (as in, last week) deported back to Germany, where he faces hate crime charges.

That said, the distiction between hate literature and literature which incites violence should be made. If Zundel wants to write about how the Holocaust didn't actually happen, then go ahead. There is freedom of speech that protects his freedom to say whatever he wants.

But it is only a freedom - not a right. We have the freedom to say whatever we want, until it infringes on the rights of others. If you write a book or a pamphlet calling on your followers to commit acts of violence towards certain groups of people, then you lose your freedom to speak out. You are no longer expressing an opinion - you are now calling for an action to be carried out.

fahrenheit451moderator said...

Does anyone know if Zundel has incited violence in his "hate literature?" How do you feel about Canada enforcing a hate literature ban?

Anonymous said...

I agree that Zundel has a right to question whether the Holocaust happened. Everyone has that right. If we didn't, then we should not have the right to question anything. All History is questionnable since we were not there to experience it, so why should the Holocaust be exempt from our queries? That's like getting austricised for claiming that the 9/11 bombing was not terrorist related. Unless you were on that plane, you really don't know.