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Archive for May, 2009

Response to ‘Toben and the Case for Free Expression’

Posted by Atilla89 on May 20, 2009

First post in months, yay. As usual I’ve had other priorities and things to attend to. This does not mean I have ignored what been going on (kind of hard to do while studying for an International Relations major). The aftermarth of Operation Cast Lead and of course Durban 2. Its kind of funny in a sick way how that turned out. Fredrick Toben a Holocaust denier in Adelaide has been sentenced to 3 months in jail due to a refusal to take down Holocaust denial and Antisemitic material from his website. He was prosecuted by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1998 due to the offensive nature of the content on his site.

I was given this article to read recently and told to respond to it. This is what I wrote; I hope it gets through the editor and published on the site, but if not here it is.

This piece by Clementine Force completely glosses over the fact that 1) being ‘wrong’ and ‘misguided’ was not Toben’s crime and 2) freedom of speech was never the issue in this case. The Racial Discrimination Act makes it very clear that it is unlawful to act in a way that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate another person especially if it is done because of a person’s, among other characteristics, race or creed. The judge ruled against Toben not specifically because he was wrong about a certain fact, but because he asserted that some Jewish people had exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II in order to profit from the perpetuation of what is described as ‘a Holocaust myth’. The laws of free speech have never covered the right to insult and humiliate other people based on a person’s religion or race. Force also asserts that Toben’s views are not dangerous in a world where Holocaust denial is dismissed. She is right. However, we don’t live in that world; in 2006 Toben went to the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Iran, a conference sponsored by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another Holocaust denier who is the President of Iran. Toben was never sent to jail based on whether he was right or wrong, he sentenced because he refused to comply with a court order after giving his word that he would.

Tell me what you think of it and what I can improve.

Fredrick Toben


Posted in Antisemitism, Australian Politics, Racism | 1 Comment »