Monday, 26 January 2009

David Irving Invited to Speak at NUI Galway

Holocaust denier David Irving has been invited to speak at our university by the Literary and Debating Society (Lit & Deb) on the 19 March. The invitation was granted following a vote by the Society last week: 100 for and 63 against inviting Irving. A year ago, Irving was invited to Cork, but the debate was cancelled due to protests and the campaigning of the Stop Irving Campaign. I am informed that the motion will probably be of the form: 'That This House believes the Holocaust happened.'
I don't know if the organisers have considered the consequences of the EU Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia, which was agreed to by EU ministers at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 19 April 2007. The text requires that EU States make it a punishable crime to publicly condone, deny or grossly trivialise crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. Member States may choose to punish only conduct which is either carried out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting.
Whatever position one takes about whether Irving should be punished for such crimes, it is an entirely different matter to welcome this vile bottom-feeder to our university and give him a prestigious platform that has been occupied by distinguished visitors in the past. There are also cranks who believe that the earth is flat, but we don't invite them to deliver seminars in the geography department. Hopefully, the Irish immigration authorities will not let him into the country. Certainly any reasonable reading of the EU Framework Decision should lead to the conclusion that he cannot be welcome in Ireland, or at the University.

10 comments:

小云 said...

Giving Irving a podium to speak at seems to me an affirmation of his legitimacy (whether that be true or not). Is this a good idea? I find dialogue important, but not a lecture. What will listeners learn? That liars exist?

Barefoot said...

"Society auditor Dan Colley said: 'There are few people who have tested the boundaries of the right to free speech more than David Irving. This debate is a referendum, of sorts, to see where our members think those boundaries of free speech in university lie.'"

If this is to be an exercise in free speech appreciation (rather than good taste), then I will embrace that and show up with posters letting the scumbag know exactly how I feel. I hope and expect others will do the same.

Nigel Jackson said...

The EU Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia which Professor Schabas has quoted seems to me to be incompatible with intellectual freedom. One researcher might see an event as sufficiently grave to be fairly called genocide and/or a crime against humanity, but another researcher might see the same event as much less horrendous and thus not to be appropriately so described. In some contexts the former view might be correct, in some contexts the latter. The Decision does not allow for this open-ended position. Implicit in it is that some groups (the EU, their courts) have omniscient knowledge about certain events. That sort of view leads to tyranny if not theocracy.

So in my view critics of Irving should patiently debate with him in public forums of all kinds, not seek his exclusion.

Nigel Jackson

Nigel Jackson said...

The EU Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia which Professor Schabas has quoted seems to me to be incompatible with intellectual freedom. One researcher might see an event as sufficiently grave to be fairly called genocide and/or a crime against humanity, but another researcher might see the same event as much less horrendous and thus not to be appropriately so described. In some contexts the former view might be correct, in some contexts the latter. The Decision does not allow for this open-ended position. Implicit in it is that some groups (the EU, their courts) have omniscient knowledge about certain events. That sort of view leads to tyranny if not theocracy.

So in my view critics of Irving should patiently debate with him in public forums of all kinds, not seek his exclusion.

nigeljacksonpoet@hotmail.com

cearta said...

Hi there,

I entirely agree with your opinion about Irving, but I entirely disagree with your prescription as to how to deal with him. I have out my thoughts in detail on my own blog here. In brief, my view is that the best way to deal with him is to confront him rather than censor him, and that fora such as the Lit & Deb are exactly the right places to debate and debunk Iriving’s odious ideas.

Eoin O'Dell.

Christopher Ryan said...

First, whether deliberate or not, some of Irving's free speech defenders may be relying on a narcissistic conception of freedom of expression, that is, expression for the sake of expression. It is common knowledge that the international human right to freedom of expression does not protect all expression. The reason is that the expression must produce some good or at least cause less bad than not permitting it. In this case, if there is a reasonable possibility that Irving's presentation will create or reinforce hatred against Jews, is that not enough to cancel it?

Second, those who agree that Irving should speak at NUIG do not only have to prove that the content of his presentation falls within protected expression in Irish, EU, and international law, but they also must prove that the particular form of expression at issue is justified, namely, a public presentation on NUIG property. In other words, his free speech defenders have to explain why alternative forms of expression are not acceptable. For example, why couldn't Irving provide a transcript of his presentation for distribution to those NUIG students interested? Given the reasonable possibility that this scheduled presentation will devolve into confrontation rather than edify the audience and the debaters, this alternative option should be considered.

Chema Arraiza's Blog said...

I don't understand how on earth the NUIG management allows this to happen and/or lacks the courage to stop it. Freedom of expression arguments supporting holocaust denyers and else are either mischievously cynical or naif to a pathological and dangerous extreme.
The worst thing is that this lack of action and ambiguity (by presenting the issue as 'should he be allowed to speak') only gives this opportunistic man what he is craving for -attention-.

CIan said...

Lit and Deb has previously had speakers such Anjem Choudary who supports Islamic Terrorism.
Were his points in any way validated by his speaking in NUIG?
No, of course not.

This will not be a lecture but a debate, the students in NUIG will be able to have Irving's views shot down in front of us. I look forward to this happening and will affirm the truth of the holocaust.


Having experienced fascism first hand in Belgium, I resent the attempts by those who seek to stop Irving speaking to portray free-speech advocates as naive and idealistic.

Harry M. Rhea said...

I completely agree with the opinion of Prof. Schabas. This is a issue that the United States has very often at its universities, i.e., Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University on Sept. 24, 2007. Prof. Schabas cites the EU Framework Decision to support his point. I think the greater issue is that too often individuals such as Irving and Ahmadinejad are given a platform and argue that it's free speech. The freedom of speech does not apply to this situation as many argue; one's freedom of speech is not limited when he/she is not invited to speak at an institution. He/she can still speak through media, publications, and protests. Irving's views are not controversial, they are uunconscienciable, and he should not be given this platform. Freedom of speech should be protected, not abused.

Veritas Reperio said...

How many people are willing to violate the rights of the listener?