In the 1930s and 1940s, Germany imposed its will on Europe through force. In 2007, Germany is seeking to impose its will on Europe through legislation. It is already a crime in Germany to deny the Holocaust, and Germany would like to use its presidency of the EU to spread that around.
8 other EU countries already have laws against Holocaust denial, which means that 18 countries do not. In the EU, only Germany has banned the use of Nazi insignia.
I am an advocate of free speech, but I will not go to Germany to insist that people be allowed to claim that millions of Jews were not murdered by the Nazis during World War II. I believe that freedom of expression is fundamentally important, but I didn’t care when David Irving was thrown into jail in Austria.
However, the prospect of new legislation that will further curb freedoms throughout the EU disturbs me. When someone like David Irving explains how it is that the Holocaust never happened, it is up to each of us to believe or not, to object or not, to ask questions or not. People do not need to be protected from hearing things that are not true. People are capable of listening critically and thinking for themselves.
We cannot legislate against speaking untruths. The freedom to express yourself without fear of being put in jail for your opinions is critical. The freedom to have your own thoughts is essential.
And the concept of curbing free speech is, of course, a slippery slope. If we ban denying the Holocaust today, what will we then ban tomorrow?