In e-mail, a request to comment on the plight of “historian” David Irving, who has been punted into an Austrian prison for denying the Holocaust happened, and doing so while actually in Austria, where such activities are criminal. Seems that Austria, birthplace of Hitler, gets a little twitchy when people suggest Der Führer wasn’t, in fact, deeply pleased that six million Jews and a few million other inconvenient people went up a concentration camp smokestack. Irving got three years for that and plans to spend at least some of that time writing his memoirs, not unlike his little buddy did all those years ago.
My thoughts? Well, first, I certainly enjoyed hearing that Irving twisted and groveled like the pathetic worm he is once it was clear he was looking at hard time, and grudgingly admitted prior to sentencing that oh, gee, maybe there actually were gas chambers at Auschwitz after all. Oops. His bad. You can see how he messed that one up, though. Such an obscure corner of World War II. So, yeah, that got a hearty chortle from me. And I can’t say I don’t appreciate someone who has dined out on attempting to deny evil having it crammed back down his throat. Emotionally, this all is a tasty Snickers bar of schadenfreude, to use an all-too-appropriate word for it.
Having said that: Look, free speech isn’t free if even the most odious crap-flinger can’t smear himself in poo and call it truth. People like David Irving are the crucible of free speech, as in, you can’t say you actually support free speech if you’re willing to keep dickheads like him silent. So, no, as satisfying as it feels, David Irving shouldn’t be in prison just for being a professional Nazi-licker. I am obliged to defend his right to lick Nazis, as clearly odious I think it is that the man feels like this is good use of his time, or of anyone else’s.
What I suggest we do is offer a trade to Iran, in which they can have Irving — who should become fast friends with that country’s Jew-hating, Holocaust-denying president — in exchange for a few of those Iranian bloggers the goverment is currently squatting on for the crime of having opinions. It’d be one of those “everybody wins” situations.