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On Censorship By Charles Taylor
This is interesting, and from a mainstream publication, to boot:
“Several weeks ago, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff conducted the following interview with Flemming Rose, the foreign editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily newspaper known for having published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. Rose, who was then the culture editor, made the decision to publish the cartoons, which sparked attacks and violent protests across the Muslim world, and multiple terrorist plots against Jyllands-Posten, Rose, and other staff members. Rose’s book, “The Tyranny of Silence,” was published late last year in the U.S. Rose and Mankoff spoke about the book and Rose’s views on free speech in person, and continued their conversation via e-mail. Researching my book, I looked into what actually happened in the Weimar Republic. I found that, contrary to what most people think, Weimar Germany did have hate-speech laws, and they were applied quite frequently. The assertion that Nazi propaganda played a significant role in mobilizing anti-Jewish sentiment is, of course, irrefutable. But to claim that the Holocaust could have been prevented if only anti-Semitic speech and Nazi propaganda had been banned has little basis in reality. Leading Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. Streicher served two prison sentences.
Rather than deterring the Nazis and countering anti-Semitism, the many court cases served as effective public-relations machinery, affording Streicher the kind of attention he would never have found in a climate of a free and open debate. In the years from 1923 to 1933, Der Stürmer [Streicher's newspaper] was either confiscated or editors taken to court on no fewer than thirty-six occasions. The more charges Streicher faced, the greater became the admiration of his supporters. The courts became an important platform for Streicher's campaign against the Jews. In the words of a present-day civil-rights campaigner, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the anti-hate laws of today, and they were enforced with some vigor. As history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it. I have yet to be presented with evidence for the proposition that hate-speech laws are an effective instrument to prevent violence. Seen from Europe, the history of free speech in the U.S. undermines those who insist on a causal link between legalization of hate speech, on the one hand, and racist violence and killings, on the other. Throughout the twentieth century, the U.S. witnessed a gradual relaxation of restrictions on speech; nonetheless, today racism and racial discrimination is less of a problem than it was a hundred years ago.”
Well, blow me over, I did not know that.