Well, sushi was called for 7PM and I didn't leave my office 'til after 7:30, so that didn't work out; my party Saturday night -- well, let's just say that despite all the plans, I had a blast and a hangover into Sunday, when I was awakened with the sudden prospect of heading into the office. So while the plans didn't really work out in any way, shape or manner like I had hoped, I -- kinda-sorta -- had a memorable weekend filled with memories, scars and some revisionist history. Unfortunately, since some of my activities experienced within the last few days is not appropriate for public consumption, I'll refrain from discussing same in any detail. But hot damn, it was GOOOOOOD.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get on to less significant matters.
Yesterday I came across an article at CNN.com discussing the fate of British historian David Irving. Mr. Irving is credited with writing over 30 books, and, at 67, was sentenced in Vienna yesterday to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to denying the holocaust took place as well as that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Being jewish, my eyes and my senses pick up when I read about holocaust deniers, whether they're people like Mr. Irving, who spouts his ignorance on paper, or people like David Duke, who do so in political campaigns, or neo-nazi skin-heads, who do so on city streets. There are few people in this world whose lives I would take without remorse and without hesitation: anyone who physically and/or sexually abuses women and/or children; anyone who threatens my family; and anyone who advocates the indiscriminate killing or abuse of an entire people or race. The Nazis, both as established under Adolph Hitler after the Beer Hall Putsch in 1921, and the "modern" version thereof, both in Europe and in North America, qualify for at least one of the above-listed criteria, though I am fairly confident they qualify for all.
Mr. Irving, being somewhat "educated" (able to string together his anti-semitic, ignorant bile into "non-fiction" rather than something scrawled on a bathroom stall door) isn't necessarily what one might consider a typical neo-Nazi. Yet he pleaded guilty, at 67, to three years in prison, which means he could very well never again see freedom. Perhaps he was coerced into the guilty plea, or perhaps he has such hatred for jews (or a love for the Third Reich) that he simply had to commit his thoughts and ideas to paper.
What I don't quite understand is why he's being put in jail for same.
Before anyone who's reached this point of this entry begins scratching their heads, no -- the statement above isn't a contradiction to what I admitted earlier. Mr. Irving is indeed slime and deserves a very long, painful, drawn-out death; but putting him in jail for denying the holocaust took place -- no matter how far-fetched his fucked-up worldview permits -- is, in my opinion, not appropriate.
Or, put another way, as disgusting and degenerate the ideas Mr. Irving espouses and puts forth as fact, I'd much rather live in a world and in a society where we can become better people by learning through example, like Mr. Irving and his hateful lies, of what is wrong.
"It is the ferment of ideas, the clash of disagreeing judgments, the privilege of the individual to develop his own thought and shape his own character which makes progress possible."
Calvin Coolidge, 1925
As of five this afternoon, I received an inquiry regarding a prior post I'd written which also addresses free speech and the struggle between freedom of speech and censorship and cites a quote from Voltaire on this same issue: the permalink is here for anyone who's interested.