Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 5

Libertarianism. Apparently this is defined as "a philosophy based on the principle that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the same freedom of others".

If my close reading of this article in Hit and Run, the blog for Libertarian rag Reason, it seems to be what rich arrogant American college kids believe in until they're forced to go out and get real jobs and make real comprimises.

They have to be that. It's the only group I can imagine saying, with a straight face something like:
It's hard to imagine a defense for locking up a man for having ideas, wrong though they may be. Shame on Austria (and Germany, Canada, and all other nations who enact and enforce such illiberal laws).

America, of course, having no illiberal laws or any thing on the statute books that begins "Conspiracy to".

This is all brought on by the recent jailing of David Irving, ex-holocaust denier, for three years for his past holocaust denial. Why Austria might be a little touchy on the subject of holocaust-denial takes only a moments thought. And maybe later, when daddy pays for their Skiing holiday, they might take a jaunt over to Mauthausen, it's to be recommended, if nothing else the gatehouse was designed by Speer and it's very impressive. The video where the American ex-service man breaks down remembering what he saw when he liberated the place 40 years earlier makes an entirely different impression. Nazism isn't just a term you can throw round your chat room like so many other insults. It happened in Austria and Germany, and elsewhere, and the results are well-known. The idea that you can simply deny this is offensive as if the murder of millions was inconsequential enough that if say it enough times and we believe really, really hard we won't have to face up to the grim truth of man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Free speech does come with responsibilities, that that respect "free" might be a misnomer. Though we might want a state where we have the freedom to say what we like we also don't want people shouting "fire!" in a crowded theatre.

The main problem here, though, is the publicity this case is getting. Far better to have left Irving alone and let him fade into obscurity than acknowledge him at all.

1 comment:

Ten-Bob Dylan said...

That's the rub though isn't it. By prosecuting you create awareness of the racist moron. He was holding one of his own books in his hands as he came out of court. As for libertarians, I have the same problem with them as I have with so called anarchists. It seems to involve absolving all responsibility to actually do anything about anything. No wonder it appeals to studenty types. It all sounds radical and exciting, but when you actually analyse it, it's nothing more than free market, capitalist, Thatcherite, Reagonomics by a different name. Roll back the state, people (the market) can take care of themselves without any government intervention. Hmmm...