Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

David Irving and Nick Griffin must be allowed to speak

There is no question that David Irving, the convicted Holocaust denier, and Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, espouse views that are abhorrent and even dangerous.

There is also no question of my distancing myself unequivocally from their views.

Notwithstanding, they have been invited to address a debate on free speech at Oxford University.

This has occasioned outrage and a call for widespread demonstrations to protest their inclusion, on the basis that their views are just too disgusting to be given a forum.

Considering they cover just about every form of hatred and bigotry going, this is not surprising, but in my very humble opinion, wrong.

The time has come to grow up — to accept that people are adult enough to be able to distinguish right from wrong, and more importantly, make up their own minds on what must be rejected and what must be incorporated into society.

If we believe that mankind has not evolved enough to reject racists and fascists and deny them the right to speak, then we are in danger of becoming the very fascists that we would reject.

As a Jew, I find Irving particularly offensive, but I would imagine that given the opportunity again my forefathers may well have wanted the Nazis to have been given the opportunity to speak in public.

One of the greatest dangers to Jews leading up to and during World War II was that people did not believe how evil these Nazis really were.

They consoled themselves with the thought that if their views were not heard, perhaps the cancer would not spread as far.

How many more Jews would have been saved and how much sooner would the parties have reacted if they knew what these people were really saying?

If we continue to suppress the views of people like this, it does not mean they will go away — they will simply be heard by those who wish to hear them and pose a threat to an unsuspecting group of ostriches.

  • David

    The issue is not whether the denialists and neo-nazis should have the right to free speech (provided that they do not break the laws against hate speech, defamation etc). They should. The issue re the Oxford Union event is whether any respectability should be lent to these people by inviting them to speak at your event. That is the problem of the inviation – you lend their offensive views a legitimacy, respectability and even prominence.

  • MidaFo

    You are right; let’s hear what these people say. They are like advertising copy writers. If we do not we will have other advertising copy writers telling us what is happening in the world.

    But then let’s cut the identity crap as well. The heart of it is that if Irvin and Griffin are noxious it is simply because they work the identity lie.

    We are brothers and sisters, one and all. This is not hopeless idealism. It is a fact.

    To call oneself a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, is weak minded nonsense because it implies the great Other while using the word brother. Neat advertising trick! Pure propagandist genius! Jesus amongst others, as the core of his message, refused to call himself by a name like that and so those who do, in archetypal fashion, killed and continue to kill him.

    Despite what the Media incessantly assumes, the real news is that those who are not of that rubbish are not atheist or agnostic. Atheists and agnostics are in that monotheist bin and despite what they say the monotheist religions are all antagonistic to the common identity of mankind. See them fight!

    Shame on them. It is all so obvious too. We cannot see further than our own minds. To worship the God in our own minds and claim it is the only God is to worship self and demand others do too. Effectively and practically, to distinguish themselves from others who claim the same right they never stop short of the attempt to butcher God; to cut his corpse into pieces; like at the braai!.

    They are an incessantly nasty joke that is centuries old. Their priests are the equivalent of advertising copy writers. And yet they are one and all our family too.

  • Michael Trapido

    No question we should hear them – to my mind.

    Thanks for the insight guys.

  • http://scross.co.za Günther

    It’s right to allow these noxious characters to to speak on platforms they themselves create (with the necessary caveats remaining applicable), but surely nobody is under any obligation to create one for them.

    Of course there is also merit in the argument of giving these guys rope with which to hang themselves. It might work with people like Griffin, who is a buffoon, or even with somebody holding a reputation as tarnished as Irving’s. The downside is that if you give prominence to a hatemonger who states his awful case persuasively or entertainingly, you’ll give them an undesirable measure of influence. Let them create their own platforms, but give them no unnecessary opportunities to poison the public discourse.