Criminalizing Holocaust denialism is restricting freedom of speech and shouldn't be given special treatment by criminalizing it. And criminalizing it essentially means we should also do apply the same to other unsubstantiated historical revisionism.


Noam Chomsky has a point that Holocaust denialism shouldn't be silenced to the level of treatment that society is imposing to it right now. Of course the Holocaust happened and so on but criminalizing the pseudo-history being offered by Holocaust deniers is unwarranted and is restricting freedom of speech. There are many conspiracy theories and pseudo-historical books available to the public and yet we do not try to criminalize these. I do not also witness the same public rejection to comfort women denialism in Asia to the point of making it a criminal offense or at least placing it on the same level of abhorrence as Holocaust denialism.

Having said that, I would argue that Holocaust denialism should be lumped into the category along the lines of being pseudo-history, unsubstantiated historical revisionism or conspiracy theories or whichever category the idea falls into but not into ones that should be banned and criminalize. If the pseudo-history/historical revisionism of Holocaust denialism is to be made a criminal offense, then we should equally criminalize other such thoughts including the comfort women denialism in Japan or that Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union was a pre-emptive strike.

Edit: This has been a very interesting discussion on my first time submitting a CMV post. My sleep is overdue so I won't be responding for awhile but keep the comments coming!


  • 🤔Changed Author's View
    2 years ago

    I have a saved comment on this very topic which I find pretty compelling.

    Let people live their lives in peace and let them believe whatever nonsense they want to believe.

    As a German, I find myself groaning whenever I see this discussion come up.

    You seem to start with the assumption that these are fringe beliefs that forever stay on the fringe when left unchecked and never, ever have an impact on anyone else. This is simply not so. The ban on holocaust denial was instituted on a nation literally filled with Nazis. Every village, every city, every school, every government insitution - Nazis everywhere. The suppression of Nazi ideology was absolutely vital to rebuilding the country.

    And it's not like there wasn't precedent about just how harmful letting a conspiracy theory run free can be. Are you familiar with the Dolchstoßlegende? It was a right-wing conspiracy theory circulating in Germany after WW1 that said that the German army hadn't truly lost the war but were "stabbed in the back" by cowardly revolutionaries (read: The Jews) at the home front - revolutionaries who went on to found the new democratic Weimar Republic. This conspiracy was widely believed by the German people as it fed into their victim complex and was one of the key tools with which the Weimar goverment's legitimacy was undermined - which allowed the Nazis to take power.

    Speech has consequences. And sometimes, those consequences are so much more harmful than the consequences of outlawing it. Your rights end where harm to others begins. I see such unbelievable naivety about this matter from the Freeeeee Speeeeeech advocates.

    I'm of the opinion that the best way to expose a dumbass is show it off. Dismantle them violently and thoroughly. Deleting comments and questions arbitrarily and not on a case by case basis (don't have a problem nuking copypasta) doesn't do anything constructive.

    Conspiracy theorists are not rational. If they could be swayed by facts and reason, they would not believe shit that even the most minor bit of fact checking would reveal to be untrue. Allowing them to spew their bullshit freely doesn't make them seek out people who'd disabuse them of their notions, it makes them seek out other people who share their beliefs - and who radicalize them further. We see the echo chamber effect right here on reddit. Whether or not the holocaust happened is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of facts. You're entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Making up your own facts is called lying. And when your lies are so malicious and harmful that they actually pose a threat to other people or the nation itself, then yes, that should absolutely be punishable. It's no different than slander or libel. What value is there to allowing holocaust denial? Serious question. And I don't mean appealing to the slippery slope of how it leads to other worse prohibitions. There's a lot of arguing for Free Speech for its own sake - that Free Speech is the highest virtue in and of itself that must never, ever be compromised, for any reason, and that this should be self-evident. But I ask, what's the harm in not allowing holocaust denial, specifically? What is the benefit in allowing it?

    There is none.

    Nothing good will ever come out of someone spewing holocaust denial. Ever. You won't get a thoughtful debate beneficial to both parties. They're wrong, simple as that. The "best" outcome you'll get out of it is that you can convince a denier or someone on the fence that they're wrong. Great. The best outcome involves suppressing it. There are, however, a hell of a lot potentially bad consequences in that their stupidity can infect others and shift the Overton window their way.

    The reason that the vast majority of modern Germans look at the Nazi flag and feel nothing but revulsion whereas a sizable portion of US southerners actually fly the confederate flag and defend it ("Heritage, not hate", "It was about states' rights, not slavery", "Slaves weren't treated so bad") is because Germans were forbidden from telling each other comforting lies about their past.

    Edit : I am glad other people were convinced by this post. Obviously all credit goes u/Wegwurf123 (who I'm hoping is still active on reddit)

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      !delta

      Thank you very much for this. The response is the most compelling thus far although it doesn't (and none so far have) addressed my other point on why Holocaust denial is a crime yet other denialisms are not.

  • 🤔Changed Author's View
    2 years ago

    First off, I assume you're from the US, where freedom of speech differs from germany (where Holocaust denial is illegal)

    In germany, freedom of speech ends when you infringe the right of someone else (Art. 5 Abs. 2 GG), so insults, hate speech and even factual claim and slander can be illegal, as long as they infringe the personal right or the honor of someone (i. e. Holocaust survivors).

    Just wanted to give a quick view from the german site of things, where freedom of speech is treated differently.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      I don't live in the US actually.

      In germany, freedom of speech ends when you infringe the right of someone else (Art. 5 Abs. 2 GG), so insults, hate speech and even factual claim and slander can be illegal, as long as they infringe the personal right or the honor of someone (i. e. Holocaust survivors).

      Speaking of which, are other denialism illegal in Germany including the Armenian genocide?

    • 2 years ago

      The armenian genocide is an interesting topic and especially with the recent trouble regarding turkey often discussed, although the only court decision I found on the topic regarding denial was from switzerland and the highest EU court in Strassbourg, where denial of the genocide was allowed as a form of free speech.

      (German Source: https://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/die-meinungsfreiheit-geht-vor-1.18206579)

      Law-wise at least germany has special laws for denial of Nazi crimes and insulting Nazi victims

  • 🤔Changed Author's View
    2 years ago

    Is it not also free speech if Heinz claimed that Katchup cures cancer?

    Is it not also free speech if you give false statements to the police?

    Is it not also free speech to make verbal threats of physical harm against another person?

    Unless you believe all three examples should be legal and not crimes, we both agree there are kinds of speech that are not protected under "free speech" we're just not in agreement on what kinds should be protected. So don't phrase this as a "should free speech be protected" but "what kinds of speech is it ok to ban?" To answer the latter, we need to look at the principles that created the concept of "free speech."

    Free speech is not meant as a protection for any and all words that could possibly be uttered in all circumstances. Free speech is supposed to prevent the government from penalizing descent so that there can be a free exchange of ideas and that the people do not have to fear disagreeing with the government. If a king does something stupid, we wanted to be free to say so. And if we hold a minority position for the time, such as being a suffragette in the 19th century or an abolitionist in the 18th century, it's important to society that the people espousing those unpopular views be protected because today's unpopular belief may become tomorrow's mainstream consensus. Free speech is there so the holders of unpopular opinions do not feel intimidated into silence. That natural evolution of ideas can't happen if people aren't free to state their mind and participate honestly in a debate of ideas.

    Denying the holocaust happened is not part of a debate of ideas. The evidence for it is so vastly overwhelming it would be laughable if not for the subject matter. The nazis kept meticulous records, cataloging every victim with a file and a serial number, something few genocides bother to do. And unlike getting other details of history wrong, this detail is tied to a long and unflattering history of antisemitism. You claim in another post you "weren't aware" of the connection, but the connection is there regardless of your awareness of it. The only reason to deny the holocaust is to perpetuate anti-semitism, not based on the facts of reality but on pure hatred.

    There is nothing about holocaust denial that is in the spirit of free speech. It is part of a hate movement that wants to silence and intimidate, exactly the kinds of things free speech were designed to stop. Free speech is not a movement to protect the physical sound utterances a person might make, it is a movement to protect people so that they can feel free to utter things. Hate movements run counter to that.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      You also have the same point as /u/lothareleil but I suppose I will give you a !delta as well.

      Denying the holocaust happened is not part of a debate of ideas. The evidence for it is so vastly overwhelming it would be laughable if not for the subject matter. The nazis kept meticulous records, cataloging every victim with a file and a serial number, something few genocides bother to do. And unlike getting other details of history wrong, this detail is tied to a long and unflattering history of antisemitism. You claim in another post you "weren't aware" of the connection, but the connection is there regardless of your awareness of it. The only reason to deny the holocaust is to perpetuate anti-semitism, not based on the facts of reality but on pure hatred.

      Nonetheless, as I keep driving my point, Holocaust denial is illegal yet other equally hateful ones aren't. As such, if Holocaust denial is illegal, then so should other denials that I have mentioned like "colonialism made the world a better place" that racists often spout to make former subjects feel "grateful" or minimise the bad connotation of Western imperialism/colonialism. Although this rhetoric is not held to the same vilification as Holocaust denial which is rather unfair to the victims of colonialism.

  • 🤔Changed Author's View
    2 years ago

    Assuming by "We" you mean western countries like the US or the UK, there's a huge difference between the Holocaust and the comfort women or Hitler's invasion. The latter two don't really have an impact in the west, other than having a better understanding of history.

    But Holocaust denial isn't just about getting the history right. There is a much bigger story here according to the anti Semites. In their telling, the Holocaust is yet another lie told by the powerful Jewish manipulators who secretly rule the world and the lie is used to unfairly gain sympathy for Jewish causes, and this influence is used in present-day politics in the West.

    It becomes justification for further anti-Semitism and impacts daily actions of these people.

    That's very different than refusing to admit culpability in the treatment of comfort women, or conveniently forgetting about internment camps for Japanese Americans or other revisionism based on inconvenient truths.

    Yes, there is also the aspect of fairness and justice for the direct victims of the Holocaust, comfort women, interned Japanese, Armenians killed by Turks, etc, but those are all glossed over events rather than ones that are used as proof of a living conspiracy.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      It becomes justification for further anti-Semitism and impacts daily actions of these people.

      I am not aware that Holocaust denialism is used for the purpose of further incitement of hate, but I would say that your argument could be applied to ban justification of past transgressions and other bigotry. To give an example, I am a Filipino and I have heard justification, and an insulting one, that the Americans did not invade Philippines because there was no Philippine government at the time. It was a similar justification used in colonising the New World and Asia. Not only it was historically incorrect that my country had no government but it was also insulting for me and to those who have suffered and it was a blatant whitewashing of history. Moreover colonialism was (and still is) to be glossed over by some by making a point that colonialism brought technological advancement and "civilization" to the natives. Similar argument is used acutely and extensively by racists to look down on the Africans, particularly in the context of South Africa, that the place was "better off with whites". There is a modicum of truth that Europeans brought prosperity in certain places in Africa but that prosperity wasn't shared with the locals, as is the case with most former colonies. Yet this rhetoric of agenda-driven historical revisionism is not being given the same equal treatment of abhorrence that Holocaust denialism receives to warrant the said rhetoric to be banned.

      Edit: clarification.

      Edit 2: Sorry I forgot to give you a delta for clearing things up for me. ∆

    • 2 years ago

      I am not aware that Holocaust denialism is used for the purpose of further incitement of hate

      Here's a fun link:

      https://www.biblebelievers.org.au/holohoax.htm

      Within five minutes, any intelligent, open-minded person can be convinced that the Holocaust gassings of World War II are a profitable hoax.

      Israel continues to receive trillions of dollars worldwide as retribution for Holocaust gassings. Our country has donated more money to Israel than to any other country in the history of the world -- over $35 billion per year, everything included. If not for our extravagantly generous gifts to Israel, every family in America could afford a brand new Mercedes Benz.

      Here's another good one:

      https://nodisinfo.com/holocaust-against-jews-is-a-total-lie-proof/

      See the real nature of WWII-era European Jewry. They were never oppressed. Rather, they were the great oppressors of the land in every way conceivable

      Or this one: http://nationalvanguard.org/2015/04/how-the-holocaust-was-faked/

      The fake “Holocaust” narrative has advanced a number of important geopolitical, cultural and economic agendas primarily benefitting international Jewry and the illegitimate Jewish state of “Israel”

      I don't blame you for being insulted by the twisted story of the Philippines. It is insulting. As denying the holocaust is to the victims, both Jews and non Jews.

      But it's not being used to justify ongoing hatred campaigns against Filipinos.

      THAT's why this is different.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      As denying the holocaust is to the victims, both Jews and non Jews.

      No one is saying that Jews were exclusively victimised but it just so happens that most of the victims were Jews.

      But it's not being used to justify ongoing hatred campaigns against Filipinos.

      THAT's why this is different.

      But Holocaust denialism and whitewashing of the atrocities of colonialism falls under the same pseudo-history/bad historical revisionism and both are used to de-humanise the victims justify bigotry. My main argument is that Holocaust denialism should not be given a special treatment by criminalizing it as there are other rhetorics that also incite hatred but are not given the same level of attention.

  • 2 years ago

    The concept of freedom of speech was never intended as some sort of abstract principle to be valued for its own existence. Its purpose was to serve people -- in other words, to make lives better for people by weakening the power of ruling groups to go uncriticized and abuse the masses.

    When free speech becomes destructive of the well-being of people, it's absurd to value free speech over the people.

    Allowing Holocaust denial because it's free speech puts the principle before the people it's intended to protect. It does not serve the well-being of the most vulnerable people in society; quite the opposite, it empowers the powerful and endangers the endangered.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      Allowing Holocaust denial because it's free speech puts the principle before the people it's intended to protect. It does not serve the well-being of the most vulnerable people in society; quite the opposite, it empowers the powerful and endangers the endangered.

      I have addressed this in another response but if that is the case we should also apply the same to other hateful rhetoric and not to, sorry for the lack of a better word, give special treatment to a particular event by criminalizing denialist response.

    • 2 years ago

      I have no problem banning all hate speech.

  • 2 years ago

    Let me first say, I'm glad that I live in a country where you can deny the Shoah. I'm not glad that I live in a country where people do it, obviously, but I'm glad it's legally allowed.

    But freedom of speech is not an absolute right. It's a feature of the US Constitution. If you accept that governments get to tell you what you can and can't do, then why can't they also tell you what you can and can't say? You aren't allowed to murder people, for example. That's a crime. You're not allowed to destroy someone else's property. You're not allowed to light certain things on fire even if you own them because of noxious fumes. Why should speech be special in being completely free? (And it isn't, even in the US -- there's trademark law, copyright law, slander law, contracts, gag rules, incitement, etc.)

    I see criminalizing particular opinions as a way for the state to oppress people it doesn't like. That's not good when those opinions are valid criticisms of the state, and the point of freedom of speech is to protect specifically the right of people to speak against the government. On the other hand, people who deny the Shoah are people I don't like. I'm generally OK with those people getting punished. They're specifically trying to slander Jews, and any decent state has a responsibility to protect its people from discrimination, which is what Shoah denialism actually is. I think that if you accept that free speech is not an absolute right (which you don't have to accept), then Shoah denialism is actually worth criminalizing, even if though it can lead to the state further restricting speech in ways that are actually bad. I personally believe that we should have freedom of speech, but in places where that freedom is not as absolute as in the US, I'm totally cool with criminalizing anti-Jewish bullshit.

    In that vein, be on guard, as Sunday night and Monday day is Yom Hashoah.

    • 2 years ago

      This is assuming you live in the US but is it your stance that freedom of speech/expression is uninhibited in a civil society? If so, I would point to the laws and exceptions regarding free speech. Also there is such a thing as a restriction on false statements of fact.

      Personally I do not believe in criminalizing holocaust denial but if we did, I would not lose sleep over it. It is important to remember that this is a very gray area but it's irresponsible and ignorant to say all speech is created equal and therefore must be free.

      In the case of Holocaust denial, if the perpetrators of such speech were trying to incite aggression or violence against Jewish communities, I think there is a case for the sanction of their behavior. Other countries actually have such legislation based on similar principles. Look at France and Germany specifically. Are these countries teetering down on the slippery slope you are positing?

      • 2 years ago

        The main reason is that their theory is VERY stupid and has REPEATEDLY been debunked. They claim it as reality. It's wasting our time to hear this stupid shit. Turn it into fiction, like many authors, and it will be more acceptable to society. Source: Aristotle.

        • 2 years ago

          well, I can only say dangerous ideas lead to crimes.
          To put an example, here in Spain praising the dictatorship isn't outlawed. So people can praise those old times, and the way they did things. And they did things by harming and killing people. Once on a while police finds an ultra-right wing group that has been stockpiling weapons. That's NOT freedom of speech. Basically, denying any wrongdoing or praising a hate ideology that condones violence basically encourages violence and crime, not free speech.

          • 2 years ago

            The countries that have such laws do not grant freedom of speech to their citizenry. They also have things like hate speech laws for example.

            • 2 years ago

              Freedom of speech is an ideal that everyone should strive for, but like many ideals it's is not pragmatic in some cases.

              Many of the countries that ban Holocaust denial were perpetrators of the Holocaust. After WW2, when anti-semetism and Holocaust denial were extremely rampant in those countries, it was in their national interest to convince to the world that they are remorseful for what they've done and that they are not going to do it again. Criminalizing holocaust denial helped turn it into a fringe conspiracy theory. This allowed countries like Germany and Austria to be accepted by the west as allies and and not be seen as the anti-semitic Nazis they once were.

              Now that most people know that only evil racists deny the Holocaust, criminalizing it may not be as necessary. However, it has become the norm and is politically difficult to reverse those laws since any politician in favor of that may be accused of being pro Holocaust denial by political opponents.

              • 2 years ago

                This argument comes down to two values.

                Statism or individualism.

                In a statist society, any argument that benefits the group regardless of violation of individual rights can be accepted.

                This is why America was founded on the individual and rights that can't be taken away for the "good" of society.

                Europe is a statist society

                America is an individualist society.

                • 2 years ago

                  The purpose of free speech is to allow the stupid, the vile and the dangerous to tell us who they are. Nothing should impede this process.

                  • 2 years ago

                    You know history can be altered. Criminalizing the denial of any historical fact is dumb. Leads to lower reliability

                    • 2 years ago

                      Their ideas and points are too dangerous to not be forcibly silenced. There are some definite holes in the story that they bring up all the time that have no real answer. Just put them in jail.