I spent about ten minutes in the sea on holiday, before I misjudged particularly large wave I was attempting to body surf. It turned me upside-down and I crashed onto the beach shoulder-first. I still have a gaze on my shoulder and an ache in my arms.
I fear I may have missed the blogging wave on the news that the Holocaust-denier David Irving was imprisoned in Austria – the event co-incided with my return to the UK. However, comments on this
thorny issue still lap at the shore. Stef at Famous For Fifteen Megapixels begins a good summary by posting a picture of Auschwitz and declaring that David Irving “is a disgraceful human being.” He also makes a pertinent point:
History gets revised all the time
And that includes the Holocaust… Who gets to decide what the official version of an historical event is and what truths are set in stone? Is someone unconvinced by the notion of the Nazi Pope a Holocaust Denier? Who gets to decide what the official interpretation of history is? An Austrian judge?
Adloyada is pissed off with the BBC for giving credence to Irving’s views by airing them on Tuesday’s Today programme.
These were treated by the interviewer as if they were serious arguments rather than the preposterous and absurd statements they were.
I actually thought that the interviewer, Sancha Berg, took a tone of incredulity throughout and strained herself not to begin ridiculing Irving, who was being interviewed from his prison cell in Austria.
Adloyada’s point is that people with such abhorrent views should not be given a platform to express them, on the basis that it gives those views legitimacy. One could of course argue that one man’s ‘abhorrence’ is another man’s ‘debate’ but I have no wish to do so regarding Holocaust denial. However, I do question the mantra that airing a view-point on public radio will automatically legitimise it. In the case of the David Irving interview, his stance was completely falsified and discredited by the BBC’s in-studio guest, Professor Richard Evans. In this example, I suggest that giving a platform to Irving’s views actually damaged his already flimsy cause even further. When a person’s opinions and presentation of facts is so obviously false, and so easily ridiculed, giving them a public platform does not legitimise their views. Rather, it delivers a coup de grace to their credibility, and their argument.