Herald accepts ad from holocaust denier

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And Smathers explains it:

This newspaper has made a principle of accepting any individual or group advertisement submitted. The only cases in which we would reject an advertisement are if it exhibits threats toward any person or group or is of a libelous nature. This advertisement, while certainly fueled by veiled anti-Semitism, does not rise to the level of threats and therefore does not merit rejection.

The basis of these decisions does not rest on a desire to collect money for these advertisements, but on the editorial principle that no opinions or assertions can be so offensive that we cannot bring ourselves to hear them. If we run from manifestly vitriolic, destructive and false arguments when they present themselves, they will continue to roam and perhaps proliferate.

We attend a research university of nearly unparalleled intellectual might. As such, we have attracted the most intelligent minds of our country into one intellectual community dedicated to the perpetual search for the truth. This was our mission in 1894 when the UW System Board of Regents defended the “fearless sifting and winnowing” for truth, and it serves a guiding social principle for this campus to this day.

It is that mission that should guide us in this instance. It is patently obvious to the most rational individual that there is no truth to Bradley’s grand project. Any student of this university who views the page (or, perhaps even the link) would recognize his mission as a wholesale rejection of truth and, in turn, dismiss it.

Removing this advertisement would undercut and debase that belief in rational evaluation. The UW community has every ability to confront these lies and reject them on their face. To remove this advertisement would assume our community lacks the intellectual integrity to properly define this movement as an affront to objective truths. The absolute incompetence with which Smith defends his views can only be fully illuminated if this campus is faced to confront those views in their rawest form.

In many other western nations, holocaust denial is a crime. Here, saying “shit” on the radio is a crime. Both are unacceptable restrictions of individual liberty and I don’t believe that either does much to reduce the ugliness that its suppose to combat.

Here is a video of Noam Chomsky defending the right of French “historian” Robert Faurisson to deny the holocaust. The European press was incredulous, and quite a few American conservatives, including my former colleague Ryan Masse, saw it as evidence of anti-Semitism. That’s ludicrous. Even the crazy, deranged lunatics, from the KKK to the people who stand in front of Humanities and tell us we’re going to hell, have the right to free speech.

But that still doesn’t mean the paper had to accept the ad. To have refused it would not have been to abandon the principle of the right of free speech in society. No, the law shouldn’t outlaw hate speech, but the media is not obligated to publish it either. If the Herald is willing to reluctantly accept $75 for the ad maybe it should take the next step and court hate organizations for ads. Why not? It’s the principle right?

The hate speech laws in Europe are wrong. But some of the informal measures politicians and the media take to isolate the far right are worthy of consideration. When far right members of parliament get up to speak, all other members leave the chamber. Candidates refuse to debate with far right opponents. Quarantine.

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One Response to “Herald accepts ad from holocaust denier”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Should this come as a surprise? The Herald has long taken pride in its willingness to run any ad from any jackass at any time. It’s a philosophy that doesn’t acknowledge the role of editorial restraint in exercising the freedom of the press, but hey – it’ll blow over eventually. (How many of you remember the David Horowitz ad from a few years back?)

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