I have to say that I shuddered when I read the news that Holocaust denier and "historian" David Irving has been sentenced to three years in jail in Austria for Holocaust denying. The idea that someone, even someone as odious as Irving, can be imprisonedlocked away, prevented from going about his daily businessfor something he wrote is horrifying. And yet I can understand why Austria, like Germany, has laws that criminalize Holocaust denial and glorification of Nazism.
History has its claimsheavy ones, in the cases of Germany and Austria. And I think a country can be considered a decent society even when it has such laws on the books. Still, I'm with Deborah Lipstadt, the scholar who prevailed in a libel suit brought by Irving in Britain. She's quoted in this somewhat creepy piece in the Daily Telegraph :
However, Deborah Lipstadt, the academic whom Irving sued for libel, but who now thrives on the international Holocaust circuit reminiscing about this experience, came out against imprisoning him. "Uncomfortable" with censorship, Lipstadt argues that, if you outlaw Holocaust-denialism, you can then outlaw Danish cartoonists.
Well, you can, but you don't have to. But in any case I prefer the First Amendment.