Freedom of Speech Doesn't Excuse Ignorance of Speech
Recently, I wrote an article for The Gateway about the Canadian government's expulsion of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. Zundel -- who had previously been convicted for hate speech and spreading false teachings about the Holocaust -- had been held for two years under the CSIS security certificate program.
Although a number of people consider this to be an unjust act and a contravention of Zundel's rights, I still vehemently argue that few -- if any -- of Zundel's rights were violated. Those few violations of his rights were, in my view, entirely acceptable due to Zundel's activities in support of and complicity with violent neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. These groups are domestic terrorist cells, and must be treated the same as any Al Qaida cell.
One of the rights that some have argued that have been violated is Zundel's right to freedom of speech. They are wrong.
Some argue that due to freedom of speech sometimes we have to listen to things that we don't want to hear, on account of those saying them have the right to say it. Often, this is true.
However, in Canada, we have a number of laws that (under the authority of the Notwithstanding clause of the consitution) place certain limits on freedom of speech within Canada. These are reasonable limits. These laws cover topics such as libel, slander, and that most magical of speech crimes... hate speech. These laws extend necessary protections to both individuals and society as a whole. These laws protect us from having our characters defamed, or racial hatred encouraged against ethnic groups.
Recently, this article has become a topic of discussion on www.majorityrights.com, which, since examining the site's content a little closer, is obviously a bastion for far/Christian/racist rightists, which has spurned me to address the issue of Holocaust denial.
History has many dark chapters, of which the Holocaust is only one. Apartheid in South Africa is a fairly dark chapter, as is the more recent events in the Sudan. Tienanmen Square is a fairly nasty bit of historical business, as is 9/11. What do all of these events have in common? These are events of enormous atrocity commited in the spirit of evil.
Pascal wrote "Evil is infinite, and has many forms". Forgetting the memories of past evil is all that is necessary for evil to rise again.
Which brings us specifically to the subject of Holocaust denial. I am now reminded of the tale of Red Deer College professor Jim Keegstra, who eventually lost his job because he assigned a Holocaust denial book for reading, and (allegedly) taught hatred of Jews in his history class.
Holocaust denial represents not only a challenge to the ideals under which freedom of speech were established, but also a challenge to history. The Holocaust occurred. This is a fact, and the protest of even a billion neo-Nazis could never change this.
Yet, there is a portion of society that wants to erase the chapter of the Holocaust from the history books. Many of these people also want to destroy what they decry as "the Jewish base of power" from which they control the "Zionist Occupied Government". Their goal, according to these people, is to (in the name of Satan, of course) destroy the white race. Which is actually pretty funny, because a significant portion of Jews have white skin. Which only demonstrates something I have suspected about this people for years: they are a bunch of retarded fucknuts.
Regardless, paranoid/hateful/ludicrous beliefs aside, there is a reason why these people want to erase the Holocaust from the history books: so they can fucking do it again.
Sadly, freedom of speech has given these people a weapon by which they can fight their cause. The founding fathers of the United States who wrote the American constitution which was instrumental in establishing freedom of speech as a worldwide principle of just democratic governance probably never saw this coming. It is a challenge to the ideal of freedom of speech in that it allows those who lack the ability, desire, or will to use their freedom of speech responsibly to harm others.
Freedom of speech, as with all freedoms, is a power. And, as the great Stan Lee wrote: "with great power comes great responsiblity". Those, such as Ernnst Zundel or Jim Keegstra, who are unable to use their freedom of speech responsibly, must always be held accountable for what they say. And when they violate the sanctity of speech by using it to spew hatred, they must be punished.
This has been done. Jim Keegstra has justly faced the end of his teaching career. Ernst Zundel faces the next five years in a German prison, and he will likely serve that time. However, this is only part of this battle.
The punishment of those who use speech to promote the hatred of anyone, anywhere, must continue. We must not allow those who would do this to use freedom of speech as a shield behind which they can hide their acts of cowardice.
Call me a Zionist conspirator if you will. If fighting to preserve the memory of what may be history's single greatest injustice is collusion, then I am proudly a conspirator.