Posted Thursday, October 19, 2000

Quick navigation

Alphabetical index (text)


Sydney, Thursday, October 19, 2000



Pressing the delete button on hate sites

The move to banish Holocaust deniers from the Internet is a step in the right direction, writes Alan Gold.



A DECISION last week by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commissioner, Kathleen McEvoy, sets a precedent which will alter the way the Internet is used as a means of political expression. For the first time in this country, so-called terrestrial laws (as opposed to the lawless nature of cyberspace) have been used against a Web site owner publishing racist material.

McEvoy ordered Frederick Toben, of the Adelaide Institute, to remove offensive material from his historical revisionist Web site and to apologise for his Holocaust-denial statements. The determination was that Toben had published material which incited racial hatred, and hence was illegal.

Almost since its inception, the Internet has been the playground of humanity, and as a result has attracted some dubious elements. Because traditional outlets such as newspapers, radio and television are closed to their extremist views, the Internet has been a godsend for propagating the perspectives of racists, vilifiers and extremists of every nature. Anyone with any political, social or racial views has felt free to create a site.

Among the first to realise the value of the Internet for propagating their viewpoints were the historical revisionists, people who use pseudo-science and prostituted academic research to rewrite history. For years, Australia's Toben, along with England's David Irving, Canada's Fred [sic] Zundel and many others, have been the conductors of a rapidly growing orchestra of revisionists whose purpose has been to deny the experiences of millions of Holocaust survivors. Their thesis is that the Holocaust didn't happen, that millions were not murdered by the Nazis, that the concentration camps were not death camps and that thousands of Jewish and other deaths in World War II were due to overcrowding and typhus.

Although most people ignore the spurious research these revisionists claim to have conducted, and ridicule the insipid facts they trot out in denial of the hundreds of thousands of eyewitness accounts, the Internet is used to spread revisionist gospels to an increasingly credulous audience of young and less-informed minds.

The decision by McEvoy to order the removal of the material from the Adelaide Institute's Web site is one of the first serious moves to be made against the real menace which the Internet has made possible. While the Federal Government tinkers around the edges in banning pornography from Australia's Internet, it has largely ignored the number of vilifying, hate-filled Web sites which are growing daily, using the concept of freedom of speech to gain access to a wider audience.

Although McEvoy's determination is that of a tribunal, and so doesn't have the weight of precedence which a court of law carries, her decision should rightly send shockwaves through the Internet community, to the racists who publish their viewpoints and service providers who allow their businesses to be used by these people.

Her decision is likely to be greeted with howls of protest. We will doubtless be told that this result is an abuse of free speech, that it will squash legitimate inquiry, that it will forever alter the value of hearing unorthodox views and will stymie the wider implications of publishing fringe material. This is because the Internet is still a relatively new medium, and legislators have not yet come to terms with whether it is possible to confine and control it -- or indeed, whether it should be controlled at all.

The attempt by the Howard Government to legislate against pornography published in Australia hasn't touched the thousands of adult sites which beam into Australian homes from America and Europe. The dangers of these anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, anti-black, anti-gay, anti-anything-which-is-different sites have largely been ignored by most governments throughout the world.

The United States, with its First Amendment, is loath to place constraints on any aspect of the Internet; European nations have talked about it but done little; Australia has buried its head and pretended it doesn't exist. Which is why McEvoy's decision will have such far-reaching effects, not because she has put an end to the inglorious career of a Holocaust revisionist (a man who recently spent time in prison in Germany for precisely these offences), but because she is one of the first people in the world to show that the Internet can be treated in the same way as any other publication.

Indeed, when the revisionists step into the mainstream and attempt to legitimise their viewpoints, they tend to fall flat on their faces, which is why they cling with such ferocity to the uncontrolled and anarchic world of the Internet. David Irving, for example, recently sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt for slander [sic], and lost badly when the British court found him to be racist and anti-Semitic.

Neither Toben nor Irving nor any of the other deniers would be able to find a mainstream publisher. That's why the Internet has proven to be such a valuable outlet for their discredited theories. But this decision will, in the future, make it harder for those racists and revisionists in Australia to use the Internet in place of mainstream publications. Now they will have to temper their words and thoughts to conform with the legislation which applies to all citizens.

McEvoy has opened the door on a room where few governments have so far been willing to enter. She has said that racist material is racist material, no matter where it is published. And that whatever is published must abide by the laws which govern the nation where it is published. It will be interesting to see whether her lead is followed by the Australian and other world governments.

Alan Gold is president of the B'nai B'rith anti-defamation unit


Related story on this website:

Dirty Laundry
Fred Toben's Australian Website ordered to stop "denying Holocaust"


Website comment: It is noteworthy that Mr Alan Gold is joining the band of almost solely Jewish claqueurs who are demanding the muzzling of the Internet. There are very few non-Jews joining their hate-campaign, which can only lead to an increase in anti-Semitism. It is ironic that the chief of an anti-defamation unit publishes such lies as Mr Irving not being published by any mainstream publisher: or does this merely reveal their ulterior intent? 

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

© Focal Point 2000 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving