back to article Facebook denies denying Holocaust deniers

Facebook has once again found itself sizzling uncomfortably in the frying pan of user outrage recently, this time for apparently letting a bunch of Holocaust denial groups maintain shop on the site. The most prominent voice demanding Holocaust denial groups get the boot from Facebook belongs to attorney Brian Cuban, brother of …

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Does anyone, anywhere ...

Does anyone, anywhere, really believe anything important[1] found on facebook, or any other site on the Internet, without researching other sources?

If they do, and they spout about it in public, they deserve the ridicule that is sure to follow.

[1] For values of "important" that vary according to the reader, obviously.

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Freedom of speech

Speech that doesn't offend anyone doesn't need to be protected. I hate to see people saying this stuff, but I'll still defend their right to say it.

I'll also defend my right to, for example, deny employment to people who join such a group - free speech doesn't mean no consequences. In that context, I'd rather have these people out of the closet, so to speak.

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Stop

It's only another silly Farcebook story

Move along, nothing to see here....etc

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Oh hum...

>hosting a public forum for Earth's diverse pool of jerks and assholes

You really have got your knickers in a twist. If based on the evidence as they see it someone chooses to believe in something or not why would that make them a jerk or asshole. The whole religion thing is based purely on belief and not even with any real evidence. Does this make all followers of any religion a jerk and an asshole?

>nothing more than a pretext to allow the preaching of hatred against Jews

Why Jews? Proportionally the Jews were one of the least persecuted groups. The mere phrasing of that paragraph implies that the holocaust was a Jewish thing and denies that many other groups were persecuted. As such it falls foul of the anit-hate-speech laws he is trying to use to block the facebook pages.

If someone chooses to believe that the world is flat, that the Sun circles the Earth, that they can travel faster than the speed of light or a host of other things that may or may not have been discredited by academics then that is their choice and they are free to express an opinion about it. Yet, if those same people want to debate the holocaust from their perspective then they are repressed. Simply waving a big stick over someone until they believe what you want them to believe smacks very much of the Spanish inquisition. Without debate they will only believe things the way you see them as long as the big stick is there.

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Anonymous Coward

I deny 20 million Russians were killed

I deny that they killed 20 million Russians in WW2 by the Nazi's. That's a lie made up by Trotsky to excuse his killings.

And Global Warming? Lies! All Lies!

And Rep Jane Harman is absolutely innocent of the charges against her!

There's nothing special about this denial that makes it less of a protected free speech, well apart from in Germany where they feel guilty as hell.

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Got to feel sorry for em

Got to feel sorry for facebook on this one, it is almost impossible for a site the size of Facebook to apply any coherent strategy on what stays and what goes, especially if the department that does it has several people in, all with varying opinions on whats offensive and whats not but in this case I do think they have been quite clear, allow free speech but disallow promoting violence

Another problem is that once they start getting rid of groups for being offensive, where do you stop. Yes the holocaust deniers ARE a bunch of lunatic wackos with probably too much time on their hairy hands and possibly do need a slapping, but as soon as you get rid of that group, how long before religious nuts start calling for Facebook to close down athiest groups because they are offensive, or "pro life" groups start calling for abortion help groups to be closed down.

We already see how companies, especially American companies, lack any amount of backbone when it comes to standing up to any type of pressure group and the whole point of free speech is that it IS free, including the stuff we dont like....

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry...

...but freedom of speach means that people have the right to hold opinions that you might (OK, will) find distasteful. That’s what ‘freedom’ means.

When they break the law though that’s a different matter. And considering FB’s world wide usage, there are a _lot_ of laws to consider, even the European ones.

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Anonymous Coward

Censorship makes the situation worse

Before anyone shouts 'anti semite', lets just emphasise that I do not deny that the murder of millions took place in Nazi concentration and death camps.

The issue of holocaust revision/denial seems to instantly descend in to abuse (i.e. calling people racist, anti semites, arseholes etc). However, some revisionists (call them deniers if you will) raise some very interesting questions about the detail of the holocaust . Many of these questions are about method and scale and do not necessarily say that it never happened.

The best way to refute these claims is through debate and further research - for example the research that took place to prove the presence of zyklon b residue in death chambers at Auschwitz in response to some initial research by revisionists that indicated that it did not exist.

It's a very unhealthy situation for a massive historical event such as the holocaust to be absolutely sacrosanct and immune from discussion and debate. By suppressing debate or legally banning skepticism (as is being currently mooted by the EU) all you end up doing is creating a belief among certain parts of society that there is an effort to 'hide the truth'. This gives rise to even more outrageous claims, which are themselves never refuted in an unbiased, researched manner and so everything spirals out of control. Rather than controlling extremist views, censorship merely fuels them. I don't disagree that some revisionist theories are latched on to by racists and neo nazis, but by banning discussion all we are actually doing is building their sense of grievance.

The Register's knee jerk reaction to follows the usual pattern of abuse. While it appeals to many who feel moral disgust for those who deny that the murder of millions took place, it does little to further cool and objective discussion.

AC as I'm sure that I will need my fire retardant suit just for even suggesting this

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Linux

I used to help moderate a forum

Best approach is to just let assholes be assholes. Most other users soon adjust their filters appropriately and all their rants just get passed over. Never was the phrase "tl;dr" more applicable.

Either that or adopt a completely arbitrary and surreal banning policy so that no-one knows why they got the boot or when it might happen again.

* User was banned for being a flightless bird with a fondness for seafish *

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I have always been curious...

about how historians examine the Holocaust in Germany and France, where I understand there are laws against studying it.

Presumably, if you were to examine and re-interpret source material, you might find evidence for differing numbers of people killed. If you find evidence for less people being killed than expected, does that make you a denier? Or is there some kind of range that the law allows you to work within?

Whatever the law states, it seems at least possible to me that evidence might be uncovered showing that the legal statement is wrong. Do you then have to go to jail?

Why isn't there an Icon for "Inquiring minds don't really want to go here"....

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Dead Vulture

bleh

I doubt theregister will make such a fuss if this is about other kinds of group.

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Nice to see....

a well balanced article on the Reg then.

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The Truth IS Out There

I've just finished re-reading William Shirer's monumental "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich". It contains exhaustive references, many to captured Nazi documents, which not only show quite clearly what Nazi policy was in regard to the murder of those it considered undesirable, but also quote numbers. The most charitable thing one can say about Holocaust deniers is that they make the average Wikifiddler look like an authoritative scholar, and it is only right and proper not only to kick these scumbags into touch wherever possible, but also to conduct extensive experiments to determine the exact temperature at which their faces catch fire.

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Coat

eh?

So what's this FaceBook thing again? People keep trying to get me to join but I really don't see the point.

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Freedom Of Speech

Yes, we all have freedom of speech. Glad we have. But this DOESN'T mean we have freedom of speech on EVERY forum. Perhaps Facebook have the freedom of speech to say 'NO' to certain people. <sigh>

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@The Truth IS Out There AC 08.51GMT

Ah now here we have a dilemma.

The Isle of Man KKK site was taken down for promoting violence - "help clense [sic] the Isle of Man." And now here we have someone advocating setting fire to peoples faces.

Where do you draw the line El Reg? Eh?

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Alien

see, this is why I read comments on these kinds of articles

Reactions

On first read of the article:

horror! why would facebook not ban the groups until violence is incited?

I didnt have a strong reason for this just that hating on the targets of the Holocaust seems immoral from my PoV.

I had an inkling that banning such groups may not be fully defensible from my soapbox, but figured that any double standard was acceptable as this was an objectionable view for the majority and an illegal view in some cases.

Post-reading The Register's comments on the article I saw 2 overriding reasons in favour of Facebook allowing these groups.

1) Freedom of speech. If i dont like it i shouldnt stop others talking about it even for fear that they might persuade weak or like minded individuals to believe. The reason I shouldnt stop them talking about it is because there are issues that I would like to support - abortion, euthanasia and others - where *I* wouldnt want to be silenced and there are plenty of people who would love to silence me.

2) Research. How can we expect there to be independent investigation into issues that we are for or against if we allow informed discussion of any subject to be censored.

I praise the reg for providing their comments section, because I wouldnt have been able to form a more coherent mindset on censorship and freedom of speech without my fellow reader's comments.

Consider a ficticious scenario where for example we accepted the holocaust occurred but where there was evidence that the Nazi's killed noone. Evidence which would never see the light of day because we have prohibited discussion on the matter. Evidence which those in the know dont want to be found because it was appropriate for the USA to flex nuclear and military muscle at that time and this was the justification.

I would hate for research or discussion which would uncover this to be silenced.

As I say this is merely illustrative, it would be impossible to believe that this were the case but we cant inhibit research or discussion for fear of other situations not being fully open to examination.

I think there is plenty going on in this world where limited access to information, locations and to physical and intellectual material is a huge issue.

Ask any conspiracy theorist.

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Same old bullshit

"The Holocaust Denial movement is nothing more than a pretext to allow the preaching of hatred against Jews"

The old "if you're a Holocaust Denier you're an anti-Semite" claim designed to silence any and all discussion of the issue.

If anyone wants to produce evidence that the Holocaust never happened, has been exaggerated in scale, dispute aspects of it, then I say so be it. I am on the side of Free Speech when it comes to that. The alternative is to say one must accept the 'official line', dissent will not be tolerated, and if you should find something which casts any 'established fact' into a questionable matter you will be prevented from saying so, proving so or disseminating that information by the law. That is truly offensive.

It doesn't follow that questioning the Holocaust automatically leads to anti-Semitism ( and lets not forget the millions of gypsies, homosexuals and others who were also purged ), but when it does come to promoting hatred, that's a different issue. Judge the site / group on its merit, not on its subject matter.

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Stop

Hold On

I'd like to see you guys stick to tech and to things at least vaguely related to tech.

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AC
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being jewbish ...

I'm not exactly offended by holocaust deniers, it simply helps seperate the retards from the those with normal intellect levels.

Same goes for those saying 9/11 was an inside job, those saying co2 emission are destroying the world, those saying man made global warming is real etcetc.

Without freedom of speech we'd have no way of making sure who those complete moron worth ignoring are.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Hold On

If you think that then you're clearly an anti-semite.

Really, though, what is it at the moment with you lot carping about non-tech stories? We've always done non-tech stories. There's loads of tech stuff here for you if you don't like it. Or does it offend you on some deeper level that we've got a broader remit?

Reader feedback is very helpful but I don't believe there are any plans to change our editorial policy any time soon.

On topic - yes, we mustn't forget that the Jews were not the only persecuted group. But I see a tendency to go full-circle on that and downplay the whole Jewish thing altogether. How many millions was it? A few. Not an insignificant number. And of course anti-semitism comes into it *sometimes* when you're talking about Holocaust denial/deniers - it's just as naive not to address it as it is lazy to fling the suggestion around. Balance in all things, like.

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facists

The facists documented with a passion. The only controversy would be:

1) The documents are false, for whatever reason

2) Additional documentation is missing/destroyed.

It seems people are missing the horror of the Holocaust. It was a factory that produced death. Time, effort, resources and planning all went into making a factory to kill people and take what was left (teeth, fat, etc). Now that is the horror of it, that people actually sat and planned it, then implimented it.

The Holocaust was not an exclusively Jewish terror, the gays, trade unionists, gypsies, etc all paid a price. The Jews however paid the highest price (just as the Russians paid the price in lives for WW2).

It is something we humans should never forget...

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Common halfway-house position

@ jake:

<< Does anyone, anywhere, really believe anything important found on facebook, or any other site on the Internet, without researching other sources?

If they do, and they spout about it in public, they deserve the ridicule that is sure to follow. >>

Yes, they do. Lots of them. People will believe anything they read, whether it be the latest junk horrors-we're-all-going-to-die hysteria in the tabloids, or the idiotic rumourmongering in these noxious 'celeb' magazines.

The big problem is that you can't just dismiss it as above: "if they believe it then they deserve to be ridiculed". Yes, they do deserve that - but the problem is if enough people start parroting something then more people will be swayed by it and sooner or later the truth becomes the minority view; abandoned in favour of the conspiracy theory, the rumour, whatever. The question then is who's actually getting ridiculed.

How many people believe - truly, fervently believe - every word of those asinine websites about September 11th being an inside job? Yes, quite obviously the supposed 'evidence' that The Government Did It amounts to absolutely nothing beyond speculation and wishful thinking - but there are a LOT of people around the world who are willing to uncritically embrace every wild claim the conspiracy theorists chuck onto the web. But challenge them on any of their beliefs and you will find yourself treated as the idiot for not seeing the perfectly self-evident truth of the conspiracy...

@ Chris W:

<< Does this make all followers of any religion a jerk and an asshole? >>

No - but this wasn't a good place to ask that, in light of the kind of comments that usually get tagged to any article featuring religion. Some of them make Richard Dawkins look the very model of reason and tolerance.

@ vishal vashisht:

<< how long before religious nuts start calling for Facebook to close down athiest groups because they are offensive >>

Presumably you'd suggest that it couldn't happen the other way around? Haven't you noticed those atheists who claim that religion is the root of all human evil and that it must be eradicated? There are militants and fanatics on all sides. It's biased to imply that the intolerance runs in only one direction.

@ AC - "Censorship makes the situation worse":

<< [S]ome revisionists (call them deniers if you will) raise some very interesting questions about the detail of the holocaust . Many of these questions are about method and scale and do not necessarily say that it never happened. >>

The terms 'revisionist' and 'denier' are partially synonymous, in that a Holocaust denier is a historical revisionist. But not all historical revisionists are necessarily Holocaust deniers.

In context, though, what you're referring to are those people who seek to mitigate the Holocaust or otherwise excuse the Nazis by claiming that, "well, it *happened*, but it wasn't as bad as everyone says it was".

This is a common halfway-house position for former outright deniers who've studied the evidence and found themselves unable to remain convinced of the denial. However, Holocaust denial is normally the rationalisation for another motive, whether that be hatred of the Jews (and bearing in mind Chris's point that the Jews were only one of many persecuted groups, they're certainly the most politically prominent), love of the Nazi worldview, or both. Abandon denial entirely, and suddenly you're without even a pseudo-intellectual basis for your arguments and you're just another racist/anti-semite/nationalist/whatever.

Revisionism of the sort you describe is appealing for such people, because it allows them to offer apology for the Nazis while still maintaining the appearance of scholarly reason.

But ultimately we're still faced with one of the big questions of ethical philosophy here: how much do the numbers matter? Where do we draw the line between "abhorrent attempt at genocide" and "oh, that's okay then"? How many people would it have been acceptable for Hitler and his minions to kill *before* we consider it a crime against humanity? Would hundreds of thousands murdered be more acceptable than millions?

I agree that we must be able to study the Holocaust. If nothing else, such events serve as valuable lessons for us to learn (or would, if our species had the collective intelligence to do so). But there's a big, big difference between studying something with the intention of finding out about it, and studying it to find bits you can re-write in order to push a weighted political viewpoint.

(Incidentally, with regard to 'censorship' - that complaint doesn't apply on Facebook any more than it applies on Wikipedia. Both sites are publicly accessible, but they are not publicly owned and therefore the owning organisations may impose whatever terms and restrictions they wish on the activity of their users.)

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Coat

There is NO line btween Jerks and the KKK !!!

There's no doubt the Holocaust happened, the evidence is overwhelming, and so one could argue that the deniers are either very stupid or have ulterior motives for making their false claims. Sometimes facts are obscured, reports are falsified, and we know from history that there have been some whoppers told to cover the truth, so scrutiny is required if we are to find the truth. When someone makes a claim that goes against the official story, even though this maybe awkward, their evidence should be considered. If they have no evidence or the evidence is fake then this should soon come to light. There was no evidence that a large passenger plane hit the pentagon on 911 (though clearly something did, it was not a large passenger plane), but Bush said it was unpatriotical to question the official story (in other words, roll over on your belly and STFU, and so people did just that), and so the official story is held up and scrutiny denied - this is highly questionable. With the Holocaust I, like most, believe the official story, but as an intelligent human type I'd be happy to hear alternatives and I can make my own mind up thank you very much. Freedom of speech should never be denied, nor should freedom to ignore said speech. One thing is certain, FaceBonk is not a news source on any level, apparently it's not even cool anymore.

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Beat them at it

Why doesn't everyone who dislikes the groups just join them and post stuff that the deniers will find offensive. These groups have few users and a couple hundred "Pro-Holocaust" (if you see what I mean) members should be able to scupper any of these groups and ruin the message.

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This makes me sad

When I attempt to imagine what life (and death) must have been like for the millions involved I feel great sadness.

When I see that, here in the 21st Century, despite all the information available on the subject (including film, photos, first-hand evidence from both prisoners and those responsible) there are still people who actually think it never happened as described I truly despair for my children's future.

And that makes me sadder.

Freedom of speech my a**e. Can you TRULY deny ANYTHING under that banner, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and the deep pain and offence it causes?

Well done Reg for reporting this and making me aware of what's going on.

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Advancing rapidly into prehistory

You know the Age of the Neanderthal is about to re-arrive when you can hear the "My holocaust is bigger than your holocaust" blather, and you get the feeling it's just not happy anymore simply comparing the length of sentences.

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@ Chris W

> Does this make all followers of any religion a jerk and an asshole?

Yes.

The right to free speech is forfeit when whatever you're talking about is clearly a blatant lie with no evidence, factual or otherwise, to back it up, and masses of evidence/solid proof to the contrary.

Well, it is in my opinion anyway!!

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Why Blame Facebook

Maybe Facebook ought to have a paragraph like this in their Terms of Service:

This free service exists for the purpose of making money, so we reserve the right to deny service to anyone who makes us look bad, whether by promoting controversy or for any other reason.

That would pretty much eliminate the question of whether promoters of racial hatred have any freedom of speech right to hide behind. If they buy their own servers, then the legality of their actions would be the question.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mithvetr Re: Censorship makes the situation worse

I'm not referring to those who seek to mitigate the holocaust or the nazi world view. Quite the opposite in fact. You have inferred that I am just because I believe that it is correct to permit people to question the accepted facts and then answer those questions through research. Otherwise we end up with "It was really really bad and that's all you need to know".

The reluctance to engage in the debate combined with the willingness to accuse anyone who asks questions of being a nazi symapthiser/denyer/racist/anti semite makes the situation worse. What is to be lost by doing the research or conducting archaeological and forensic investigation of the sites for example? It's likely to provide further proof that it happened and make it harder and harder for deniers.

I agree that the numbers make little difference, but today if you did the research and proved that the number of deaths was 3 million instead of 6 million you probably wouldn't be able to publish the figures without personal abuse and, if you were in Germany, possibly a jail term.

The censorship I refer to has nothing to do with Facebook. It has to do with the proposals by the EU to introduce European anti holocaust denial legislation which pretty much makes it illegal to ask questions about what happened.

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

The trouble with this sort of group on Facebook is not the free speech aspect, it's motivation.

Good quality, independent testible reseach from Compton, Davies, Eckhardt, Ellis, HarperCollins, Kinder, Urlanis and Wallechinsky roughly agree on hollocaust numbers, but the uneducated (or those that wish to promote an undue bias) will take a snippet of the statistics such as "less then two million German civilians were killed", which although probably true doesn't reflect the six million Polish civilians, then comes the reply "ah... but the records only show three and a half million killed", neatly ignoring the fact that over two million died in camps of disease, overwork and of untreated injuries.

By using misleading statistics and unsupported "facts" some people use this type of forum to further their own agenda, remeber there is genuine and reasonable debate about the number of Jews killed based on records and other evidence, which ranges between 4,200,000 and 6,000,000 people and the "deniers" that ignore the facts and say at most 30,000 Jews were killed.

There is indisputable evidence from multiple, sound sources that show millions of Jews were killed, 4, 5, 6 million is accedemic, I'm perfectly happy to supress someones "freedom of speech" if it goes towards stopping it happening ever again.

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Paris Hilton

A Question

Why are people so rabbid when discussing something that happened before most (all?) of us were born?

I mean people on both sides, although I guess the 'deniers' started the discussion and those who speak against them are just acting defensively.

I'm not trying to make a point here, I seriously want to know. Why are you all so interestd in Jewish history during WW2?

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@ greg

So stating that the follower of any religion is an asshole makes you a bigot. Way to take a stand.

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ian
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Go

"Earth's diverse pool of jerks and assholes"

Time to add some chlorine to the pool, surely.

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Social Networking, Social Censorship

It seems to me that some people object and some people don't, some people think they are idiots and uneducated and some thing they should be allowed to discuss the evidence and find out the facts and draw their own conclussions (these might be right or wrong but we are all allowed our opinion).

I haven't read or joined the group and don't know if the "hatred of jews" comment is correct either but encouraging hatred of any group, race, etc is not what any reasonable person wants. But banning a group on the opinions of a few people is also not correct, you could equally argue Fake Moon Landing groups should be banned because they are spreading lies but this is ridiculious.

Facebook can work around the issues by allowing users to vote for closing a group, if enough users (not sure how you would work that out e.g. objections are larger than member) then the group is closed by the Network as the "public" has dememed it to be "antisocial".

That way the majority is allowed to say if something is "ok" and in general small groups which don't offend anyone will remain, this is ofcourse open for abuse as larger groups could shut smaller groups by getting their member to vote but I',m sure some manual checking of the groups being banned could eliminate this.

Just my thoughts and would appreciate any comments.

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@ Mei Lewis

I don't think it has as much to do with a rabid interest in Jewish history during WWII as it does with preserving history as it actually happened. There is no plausible reason to think that the Holocaust didn't happen, and yet there is a group of people who think that it didn't. These same people, if they had their way, would happily rewrite our history books. We would be losing a part of history, and that diminishes us all.

There's also something in us that simply hates it when something we know is true is called into question. Most people know the Holocaust happened. Someone saying that it didn't, in spite of overwhelming evidence, grates on most people.

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@Mithvetr

"How many people believe - truly, fervently believe - every word of those asinine websites about September 11th being an inside job?"

Quite honestly, I don't care. When I was younger I thought I could change the world. Now that I've been teaching on and off for about 30 years, I've come to the realization that probably eight out of ten humans are ineducable beyond "eat here, sleep there, bathe occasionally & don't poop in the living room".

Elsewhere, you write: "Haven't you noticed those atheists who claim that religion is the root of all human evil and that it must be eradicated?"

Actually, I prefer the simpler statement "Organized religion is the root of all evil". Please note that I am not claiming all religion is evil, nor that all organized religions are inherently evil, nor that all religion should be eradicated.

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@Sarah

"How many millions was it?"

One is too many, regardless of "group". Pigeonholing people removes their humanity.

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Unhappy

@mei

People are rabbid (sic) because this is something that happened within living memory - some of my fparent's immediate family died in German concetration camps. This isn't "jewish" history, it's the history of the most inhuman, industrialised mass murder ever committed. It's world history, it affects every one of us. To deny it's documented and proven scale is foolish, done only for suspicious motives or for personal gain.

And no, I dont think free speech is applicable to holocaust deniers, revisionists, call them what you will. Why? Because scratch the surface sheen of "historical interest" away and you find anti semites, anti gays, anti anything non-white and anglosaxon, essentially. David Irving is a classic case in point. Allow them to spout their historically laughable "facts" and the next step will be "it's all a liberal/jewish/communist (delete as applicable) plot"; step 3 is what, justifiable genocide?

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Stop

@Mei Lewis

Strangely, people remain concerned about major historic events which had profound effects on later generations. For this reason, we still study the ancient Greeks because of their largely positive influence on the modern Western world, and we still study World War II because of its manifold effects on the entirety of the world. In addition, had you read the comments, you would realize that the Holocaust was not only directed against Jews but against many other groups as well; it is worthwhile to study, understand, and remember the Holocaust in order to prevent another one. Perhaps you've heard Santayana's quote, "Those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it"? It's not just hot air.

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Pirate

Morality? Where's the morality?

Its as if killing just one person is ok, but if you kill lots of people it suddenly becomes unacceptable.

Both groups appear unpleasant to me.

Blocking a fringe website certainly won't stop it happening again and sets very unpleasant precidents for how censorship is created in the wider world.

And thinking of it happening again, hasn't anyone heard of Cambodia or Rwanda? It seems a bit late to "make sure it never happens again."

Or maybe they just meant, "never happens again, to Jews."

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Paris Hilton

If only......

As much energy was channelled into sorting out the current middle eastern situation as is put into moaning about some disparate groups of nutters on facebook we might end up with a workable peace process.

The holocaust deniers really are a bunch of loony tunes but its better they are in the open and seen for what they are than forced underground to breed there particular form of madness/hatred. Much like the BNP its better they are out there than hidden away fermenting.

We also need to remember that the holocaust was not exclusively a jewish event and many other peoples of different faith and race where also murdered by the Nazi's.

Paris even she could see the bigger picture

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Anonymous Coward

Issue

I can't see in the article that Facebook's claimed banning rule wasn't consistently applied.

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Responses to AC and jake

@ AC - 14:12

<< I'm not referring to those who seek to mitigate the holocaust or the nazi world view. >>

Okay.

<< Quite the opposite in fact. You have inferred that I am just because I believe that it is correct to permit people to question the accepted facts and then answer those questions through research. >>

You implied equivalence between revisionists and deniers when you said "revisionists (call them deniers if you will)". I pointed out that a revisionist is not necessarily the same thing as a denier, but since you indicated that you saw them as the same thing I felt it was fair to infer what I did from your comments.

As I hope I made clear, I am fully in support of researchers seeking to learn more about that period of history, particularly as it's a prominent example of humanity's capacity for calculated savagery. The trouble is that we already know quite a bit about it. So while you speak about 'reluctance to engage in the debate', I'd tend to wonder exactly what debate it's necessary to have.

What inconsistencies or inadequacies in the existing account yet need to be resolved? In what way is our current knowledge of the Holocaust incomplete or open to interpretation? Is it simply a matter of numbers? You yourself have said that you agree that the numbers make little difference - yet it's the numbers that Holocaust revisionists tend to focus on: rather than acknowledging that the Nazis killed millions, Jews and others, they quibble over just *how many* million, as though three million murders is any less an atrocity than six.

You ask what's likely to be lost by doing the research, and in a world of infinite money, time and resources I'd say nothing. But even so, that assumes that the research is done entirely honestly, with no intrinsic bias towards a particular outcome.

Still, even if there's little or no disagreement about the account of an event, of course it doesn't *preclude* further investigation - I'm aware that many crucial scientific advances have taken place because of people who were willing to challenge unquestioned established wisdom. But don't forget that for every challenge that turns out to be a Copernicus or an Einstein, there are lots of Planet Xs, Bible Codes and Time Cubes. A challenge doesn't have any merit simply *because* it's a challenge.

<< The censorship I refer to has nothing to do with Facebook. It has to do with the proposals by the EU to introduce European anti holocaust denial legislation which pretty much makes it illegal to ask questions about what happened. >>

But the point of my comment about censorship was that Facebook is free to 'censor' because it's a commercially-owned site and not a public platform for free speech. The question of state censorship of the issue is different. But even then, it's worth bearing in mind exactly WHY Germany and other European countries might be so careful about this issue. Despite the amount of times people say "never forget", it's remarkable how quickly and easily they do. Hitler and the Nazi regime didn't seize power, at least at first: they were given it, freely, under a democratic system, by an aggrieved populace, and only later subverted the system. What followed was, once it became public knowledge, as abhorrent to the German people as a whole as it was to anyone else, and it's natural that they as a nation are particularly keen to ensure it doesn't happen again. It's very easy for extremists to take advantage of a people's sense of grievance. You've only to look at the comments of British nationalists with regard to the BNP and you can see how easily public dissatisfaction could lead to destructive consequences.

@ jake:

<< Quite honestly, I don't care. When I was younger I thought I could change the world. >>

Working in public service, I can quite understand how you've come to the conclusion you have. I also once thought it was possible to do some good in society, but now realise that the very best you can hope to do is simply try to stay afloat as long as you can. Even so, my objection to Holocaust denial (or 'revisionism', if you prefer) isn't about changing the world - it's about preserving history from those who would re-write it to their own advantage. And I know that 'history is written by the victor', and that as a child of the 1970s I must take it on faith to some extent that the Holocaust happened as described; but when I see that even those who would deny it are forced by the weight of evidence to retreat into messing around with the numbers of dead, I'm reasonably confident that their arguments have no merit.

<< Please note that I am not claiming all religion is evil, nor that all organized religions are inherently evil, nor that all religion should be eradicated. >>

I agree, except that I'd add only one further qualifier to your statement: not all evil is in fact caused by religion. So perhaps we can agree on "organised religion is the root of some evil"?

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@Sarah Davis

My wife pointed this out to me (frankly, I'm surprised I missed it!):

"There was no evidence that a large passenger plane hit the pentagon on 911 (though clearly something did, it was not a large passenger plane)"

Tell that to the families of the dead. I dare you. Idiot.

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@Mithvetr

"not all evil is in fact caused by religion."

No? Give me an example of evil that isn't based on the perpetrators faith in something.

"So perhaps we can agree on "organised religion is the root of some evil"?"

:s/some/all/ ... IMO, anyway. We can agree to disagree, no sweat :-)

For the record, I'm no Holocaust "revisionist". An uncle of mine helped liberate Auschwitz, and somewhat coincidentally a man living across the street from my parents when I was growing up was one of the people he personally helped get into transport. They stayed in touch for a few years, until the mid-50's, and then lost track of each other until one Thanksgiving when my Uncle was visiting & the guy across the street brought us one of his wife's famous pies. Much crying ensued ... They split a sixpack & played cribbage in silence twice a year after that (Thanksgiving & 4th of July), until the guy across the street died. My Uncle is still with us.

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AC @18:46

I dont think free speech is applicable to holocaust deniers, revisionists,

I dont think there is any limit in free speech. Whilst not a denier myself I strongly believe in the right of those who are to put their point of view. You make an unwarranted value judgment as to their motivations, that is simply irelevant. Its no free speech as long as YOU dont dislke someones belief you know.

What would be interesting is if they setup a religion that one of the tenets was holocaust denial, where they can then claim it as a religious belief.

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repeating the past?

"Those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it"?

or as the sisters said

"Those who would repeat the past need to control it"

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@ greg

"The right to free speech is forfeit when whatever you're talking about is clearly a blatant lie"

Ah, but you're wrong. That means what you are saying is a lie. Therefore you've forfeited your right to say it. Do you see the problem yet?

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@ jake

jake said in reply to me:

>> "not all evil is in fact caused by religion."

> No? Give me an example of evil that isn't based on the perpetrators faith in something.

Oooo, that's a bit dodgy. 'Religion' neatly substituted with 'faith in something'? I've no doubt that you're well aware (if only from previous theist/anti-religionist squabbles) that the strictly atheistic Soviet regime can easily be advanced as an example of an evil not based on *religion* - but evils not based on someone's "faith in something" isn't the same thing at all. It could easily be argued that any given evil act is the result of the perpetrator's faith in their entitlement to do it.

Still, it'd be interesting to explore this point: it would imply that 'faith' *isn't* something exclusive to deluded god-bothering fools, as it's sometimes claimed to be by anti-religious campaigners.

> For the record, I'm no Holocaust "revisionist".

I want to make it entirely clear that I never said you were.

Your personal account is interesting, and is one of many I've heard; which is one of the reasons I feel quite strongly about Holocaust denial.

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