April 04, 2007

Denying Denial

StGeorge.jpgA little essay I wrote on why it is a bad idea to ban holocaust denial was posted on the Eudoxa site.

The basic argument is traditional J.S. Mill (and David Brin; his The Transparent society is still the most accessible and clear explanation of just why we ought to strive for an open society I have seen). Banning certain propositions hurts the epistemic underpinnings of society, and given our inability to distinguish hurtful speech acts from hurtful truths we better allow both.

I think most genocide denial bans are simply laziness - a way to avoid debate. Instead of trying to show how wrong and misguided the deniers are and point out real evidence (takes effort) they just silence debate. But silencing public debates does not prevent views from spreading, and in our underdog-cheering culture it might actually help these "banned" views.

As neuroimaging develops it will become increasingly possible to check whether people actually hold certain views. If some views are declared beyond the pale even in democratic societies, what does that mean for freedom of thought?

Posted by Anders3 at April 4, 2007 01:57 PM