Friday, November 23, 2007

Free speech is a wonderful thing--the Vanity Fair interview with Horst Mahler

Which has lead to Vanity Fair in Germany being sued Horst Mahler is a very big neo-nazi. Vanity Fair in Germany wanted to interview him because he's a leading figure in the NPD, the far right German party that's won seats in local parliaments in the former East Germany. They even say, in the preface to their interview, that he breaks laws in it, like denying the Holocaust and saying "Heil Hitler", but that having a window into the mind of the far right in Germany is more important than honoring laws that criminalize phrases. But, because they broke these laws by publishing Mahler saying these things, they're being sued. Not for slander but for printing criminalized speech. The translation via the "interview" link is pretty good for a machine translation. If you read it you also see the stupidity of suing people for bringing these things up. These prohibitions are hypocritical and will allow far-rightists to assume power while saying the right things and avioding the wrong words.

The point is that restrictions on speech like this are absurd. All they do is make people use more covert language. The person suing Vanity Fair is paying attention to the surface phenomenon of resurgent far right politics in Germany but he isn't paying attention to the essence, which is what he should be opposing.

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