Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

First Amendment and Holocaust Denial

At Respectful Insolence is a post, Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi sympathizer David Irving slithers his way through the western U.S., that riled up one of the commenters. Hardly a first on that blog. This commenter is not disagreeing with Orac on the evils of the Holocaust. No peter has his own solution way to deal with the nasty problem of the Jews Holocaust deniers.

It appears that someone has made the statement, What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, just a few times too many within earshot of this ZioNAZI. He is not happy with the idea that Holocaust deniers should be allowed to speak. His conclusion is that once you forbid discussion of bad ideas, the ideas cease to exist. The way he writes, I get the feeling that he would go much farther than that.

Holocaust deniers are people who claim that the NAZIs did not do all of the bad things that they really did do. David Irving has come up with the bizarre tactic of claiming that the NAZIs only killed 1.74 million Jews, not the commonly accepted number of 6 million Jews. This makes little sense.

Your honor,

I am innocent! I did not murder Millions of Jews. I only murdered millions of Jews.

Many people have wondered what might cause some people to follow these orders to round up, torture, and kill millions of people. Well, if you want an example of someone demonstrating rabid hatred that might be manipulated into this kind of behavior, read what peter has written here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The links are to peter’s individual comments on the same post. Or you can just read through the comments from the top.

A more rational approach to the problem of what can get a seemingly ordinary person to behave as a sadistic murderer was put forward by Stanley Milgram.

The results as seen and felt in the laboratory are disturbing. They raise the possibility that human nature, or more specifically the kind of character produced in American democratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of a malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority. If, in this experiment, an anonymous experimenter can successfully command adults to subdue a fifty-year-old man and force on him painful electric shocks against his protests, one can only wonder what government with its vastly greater authority and prestige, can command of its subjects.
(S. Milgram. Quoted in ‘Encyclopedia of Genocide’. Ed. Israel W. Charney. Pub. ABC-CLIO. Volume 1, page 333.)

Is it impossible to repeat these experiments, now?

Apparently not.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

One thing peter mentions that is true is the need for responsibility for one’s actions. He does not seem to feel that there is any responsibility for his actions, because he believes that, the misbehavior of others automatically relieves him of responsibility for his actions.

The evil of others does not excuse evil on our part.

p. 98 Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl.

Only slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace truth that no one has a right to do wrong not even if wrong has been done to them. I can still see the prisoner who rolled up his shirtsleeves, thrust his right hand under my nose and shouted, “May this hand be cut off if I do not stain it with blood on the day when I get home!” I want to emphasize that the man who said these words was not a bad fellow. He has been the best of comrades in the camp and afterwards.

Viktor Frankl wrote this after he learned that his wife, mother, father, other relatives, and many of his friends had been killed murdered in concentration camps.

Dr. Frankl did not see being a victim as an excuse to victimize others.

p. 93

It is apparent that the near knowledge that a man was either a camp guard or prisoner tells us almost nothing. Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.

p. 94

From all this one may learn that there are two races of men in the world, but only these two—the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere. They penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people.

Some people rejoice in knowing that they are not evil, while others seem to be of the opinion that, if used by good people, evil is not evil. For them, the concept of a lesser of two evils is important. The definition of evil is important. Distinctions among degrees of evil are only important at sentencing hearings.

Another way, perhaps the best way to deal with the people susceptible to these behaviors is with ridicule. Mitchell and Webb do a great job of providing ridicule.

“Being tolerant does not mean that I share another one’s belief. But it does mean that I acknowledge another one’s right to believe, and obey, his own conscience.” Viktor Frankl

Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas.

Helen Keller As quoted in the Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (13 April 2003)

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