Tuesday, February 21, 2006


So This Nazi Walks into a Cartoon War ...

Where are the Paladins of Free Speech on the sentencing of British "historian" David Irving to three years in prison for breaking an Austrian law that prohibits Holocaust denial?

In recent weeks, some of the top names in the rightwing blogosphere have constructed a simple litmus test to separate brave and noble lovers of liberty from 'dhimmi' appeasers: Publish the Mohammed cartoons and you're courageous and principled, don't publish them and you've already capitulated to
Sharia law.

Of course, offending a significant number of Muslims isn't a particular concern of this crew. In fact,
some of them have made it their life's work to offend as many as possible. Which is fine - free speech is free speech, right?

Well, not so fast. It would seem to us that the true test of one's love of free speech does not lie in defending the sort of speech one really likes, but in standing up for speech one detests. Enter racist scumbag Irving, whose prison sentence seems to almost perfectly coincide with the ongoing, and violent, clash between free speech and religious sensitivity.

So again, where do our free speech champions on the right stand on Irving? The Irving sentence was
first reported Monday evening as near as I can tell. As of this writing, it's late afternoon on Tuesday. Here's what we've heard about Irving from the following bloggers:

Michelle Malkin: Nada.

Glenn Reynolds: Bupkus.

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller: Zilch.

Charles Johnson: A brief note on the sentencing, here, with no editorial comment whatsoever ... let alone an expression of the view that Holocaust denial, as loathsome as it is, ought to be considered "free speech" if we are to be consistent on these things. Immediately following the Irving post, Johnson posts this bit of editorializing on the Mohammed cartoons: "Big media in the US are too scared to do it, but a few local papers like the Fort Myers News-Press have published the cartoons of blasphemy."

Captain's Quarters: Nothing.

Powerline: Assrocket posts on Irving, making sense when he writes: "David Irving is an awful human being, but it's pretty hard to take the high ground with regard to freedom of speech--over, say, the Danish cartoons--when you're sending people to jail for 'grossly playing down' or 'trying to excuse' Nazi crimes. Some say, of course, that for Europe the Holocaust is unique and deserves this special legal status. But then, the Muslims think Mohammed is unique, too. Once you start making exceptions of this sort, it's hard to know when to stop."

The Corner: The Pantload is "conflicted" about the Irving sentence, but ultimately finds it to be "wrong and that we have bigger threats than aging Third Reich nostalgists." Fair enough, though a few posts later he inexplicably argues for criminalizing pole dancing. Old racists trump sex in the Doughy Pantload's version of free speech, though we can't help but wonder how he feels about pole dancers in Nazi bondage gear. Meanwhile Andrew Stuttaford quotes a Jyllands-Posten journalist: "Free speech is free speech is free speech. There are no buts."

These few don't represent all of the right, of course. But they are top ecosystem rightwing bloggers who have commented frequently on the cartoon controversy, so it's interesting to note that only three - LG, Powerline and the Corner - even mention the Irving story, while just Powerline and the Corner editorialize about it in a manner consistent with their stance on the publishing of the cartoons.

We'll update as the day goes on. Or not ... it ain't like we're getting paid for this.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds weighs in on Instapundit a couple days after the Irving news broke with this post today, which mostly says "ditto Mickey Kaus" :

"I MEANT TO COMMENT on David Irving's conviction for Holocaust denial yesterday, but got distracted and forgot. Mickey Kaus [you'll have to find the Irving stuff, Kaus doesn't permalink his posts], however, has it about right. I should also note that this further exacerbates the "censorship envy" of the radical Muslims -- with European countries happy to punish some speech that is regarded as beyond the pale, the discussion has shifted from whether censorship should exist at all to when it should be justified. This is yet another reason why a general rule in favor of free speech is actually better for ensuring social peace than a set of rules prohibiting offensiveness."
Also, Robert Scheer has a column up detailing why the Irving case is important, "particularly at a time when Muslim fundamentalists are being lectured as to the freedom of expression that should be afforded cartoonists."

UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters has a post up about Irving, saying: "Free speech means having to listen to repugnant and idiotic drivel on occasion. The antidote is not government censorship but more speech in rebuttal to the ignorance that arises."

Malkin, LGF and Misha still missing in action.

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