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Comment Dated Oct 14, 2008


WHY THE GAGGING?

Recent years have seen a series of arrests, imprisonments, and other forms of state persecution directed at individuals who dared challenge the laws enacted by a number of European countries, whereby matters of historical fact that the public shall believe are dictated by lawyers and court rulings, and to question them is a criminal offense. The latest violation of principles that liberal Western democracies are supposed to uphold is the snatching of historian Dr. Frederick Toben off a plane at London's Heathrow, while his flight from the U.S. was making a stopover en route to Dubai. Toben's thought-crime was to run a web site called the Adelaide Institute, containing historical views that it would be illegal to express in Germany. Although Toben is an Australian citizen who has broken no law (yet?) of that country, the U.S., or the U.K., his arrest and extradition were demanded by the German public prosecutor on the preposterous grounds that Toben's Australian web site could be accessed from Germany. Toben has been denied bail and is currently being held in a UK prison. If the authorities capitulate with the spinelessness that seems characteristic of the European Union in the face of political correctness, he faces the prospect of deportation and a virtually certain 5-year jail sentence. The ugliness of such a precedent threatens the right to freedom of research and open debate of historians, scholars, academics, and publishers everywhere.

Regardless of how one feels about any particular subject, governments have no business decreeing what shall be accepted as historical or scientific fact. How can the public, or the media that presume to inform them, arrive at a meaningful judgment when one side of an issue is hammered relentlessly with immunity from all the normal standards of criticism and questioning, while those who disagree are silenced, demonized, and imprisoned, their works banned, and their reasons for arriving at the conclusions they have, censored? Authorities do not suppress what they know to be false. Error is most effectively corrected by open debate and free access to information. Truth does not fear investigation. Insistence on ferociously enforcing laws worthy of the medieval witch trials can only arouse suspicions and invite the question: What do these people know that the world mustn't be allowed to hear? These laws are a disgrace to a civilized society and should be repealed. Any writer with an interest in science and the unimpeded pursuit of truth who failed to voice objection would be guilty of moral cowardice.