Give holocaust-deniers ridicule, not martyrdom – Huhne

Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday penned a piece for The Independent setting out his views on the use of a European Arrest Warrant to detain the extremist Frederick Toben for prosecution in Germany for holocaust denial.

Dr Toben’s views about the Holocaust are offensive, ugly and wrong. But freedom of speech is the cornerstone of liberal democracy without which all the other freedoms flounder. We restrict that freedom at our peril and only in extreme circumstances (such as incitement to racial hatred and violence).

You can read it in full here. Do LDV readers agree with Chris?

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11 Comments

  • Yes, Chris is right as per usual.

  • I agree with Chris that Holocaust denial by itself ought not to be an criminal offence.

    However, it is almost always part of incitement to worse things.

    Holocaust denial is not really in the same “right to a point of view” category as some debate about which is the best football team.

    It is more in the libel, slander and defamation area or harressment, breach of the peace, or malicious falsehood.

    I wish there was a bit more attacking the evilness of holocaust denial and expalining why it is blantently false a bit less of “defend to the death your right to say it” a rather unfortunate choice of words really given the people who suffered and died.

    One of the reasons I would add for not making it a criminal offense is that it gives us a chance to know who these evil people are.

  • Chris Huhne is absolutely right.

    Firstly, there is the issue of freedom of speech. The right to speak means the right to be wrong. Unless Dr Toben has incited people to commit a crime, the state should leave him alone.

    Secondly, there is the issue of jurisdiction. Dr Toben has been arrested and imprisoned in the United Kingdom because Germany has alleged that he has committed a crime, not in Germany, nor the United Kingdom, but in Australia; holocaust denial is illegal neither in Australia nor the United Kingdom.

    It’s time we opted out of the European Arrest Warrant, or at least restricted its application.

    Far more worrisome than Dr Toben’s arrest is the impending extradition to the United States of Gary McKinnon to stand trial for a crime that was allegedly committed in the United Kingdom, not the United States. As the law currently stands, the United Kingdom has to hand over to the United States anyone of that country’s choosing without it having to present a prima facia case (an arrangement agreed by Blair without reference to Parliament).

    I have yet to hear a Lib Dem politician speak in McKinnon’s defence.

  • Once again, I anonymise myself!

    In Austria, insulting the Roman Catholic Church is a crime.

    Does the European Arrest Warrant allow Austria to demand the extradition from anywhere in Europe of anyone who does this anywhere in the world?

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