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Orhan Pamuk to stand trial for denigrating Turkish identity

by Gjermund E Jansen Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 08:48:51 AM EST

from the diaries. Important freedom of speech discussion. -- Jérôme

This story began in February 2004, when the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk in an interview published in a Swiss newspaper stated that "a million Armenians and thirty thousand Kurds had been killed in Turkey", and that saying this publicly was taboo and even punishable by law.  Now, Pamuk is not the first to stand trial for "denigrating Turkish identity". The Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was tried in the same court for the same offence, under Article 301 of the same statute, and was found guilty, but according to The New Yorker, Pamuk remains "optimistic" before the trial starting on Friday, 16. December.


 


The Turkish flag

Orhan Pamuk, awarded one of France's most prestigious foreign literature prizes the Prix Medicis last month, started his literary career in 1974 with his first novel, "Darkness and Light" for which he won a lot of praises and won the 1979 Milliyet Press Novel Contest together with the author Mehmet Eroğlu.  Even if Pamuk kept on writing one novel after the other and won a lot of prizes for them, his literary breakthrough in Turkey didn't really come before 1990 with his controversial novel "The Black Book".  His international reputation continued to increase with the publishing of his two novels "My Name Is Red" in 2000 and "Snow" in 2002, the latest novel depicting the conflict between Islamism and Westernism in modern Turkey.

The popular Turkish author caused quite an uproar in Turkey after his statements to the Swiss newspaper, and goes on to say in the New Yorker article;


The Turkish author Orhan Pamuk

If the state is prepared to go to such lengths to keep the Turkish people from knowing what happened to the Ottoman Armenians, that qualifies as a taboo. And my words caused a furore worthy of a taboo: various newspapers launched hate campaigns against me, with some right-wing (but not necessarily Islamist) columnists going as far as to say that I should be "silenced" for good; groups of nationalist extremists organized meetings and demonstrations to protest my treachery; there were public burnings of my books. Like Ka, the hero of my novel "Snow," I discovered how it felt to have to leave one's beloved city for a time on account of one's political views.

(...)The hardest thing was to explain why a country officially committed to entry in the European Union would wish to imprison an author whose books were well known in Europe, and why it felt compelled to play out this drama (as Conrad might have said) "under Western eyes." This paradox cannot be explained away as simple ignorance, jealousy, or intolerance, and it is not the only paradox. What am I to make of a country that insists that the Turks, unlike their Western neighbors, are a compassionate people, incapable of genocide, while nationalist political groups are pelting me with death threats? What is the logic behind a state that complains that its enemies spread false reports about the Ottoman legacy all over the globe while it prosecutes and imprisons one writer after another, thus propagating the image of the Terrible Turk worldwide?

What is puzzling though is the way the Turkish authorities handles this by now so widely publicized case.  The trial of Orhan Pamuk display's a total lack of understanding of basic human rights, the very rights the European Union is built upon.


This article is also available at Bitsofnews.com.
 

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What does the Council of Europe have to say about these trials? As a member of the CoE Turkey is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 01:56:22 AM EST
The trial of Orhan Pamuk display's a total lack of understanding of basic human rights, the very rights the European Union is built upon.

And the arrest of David Irving doesn't? In both cases the state is protecting itself as it sees it against dissident opinions.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:10:43 AM EST
Yes, David Irving's arrest may be cited as the selective application of human rights: I really can't see why holocaust denial is illegal. It is not illegal to maintain that a convicted murderer is innocent. But I don't understand why this is an example of the 'state protecting itself'. How does holocaust denial endanger the state? Because a law has been broken? I don't really get it.
by Quentin on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:33:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The justification for those laws is that they are to stop Nazism reasserting itself which I read as protecting the state from Nazism.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:35:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's the justification for the laws, I would call the justification bogus. There is nothing in the denial of the massacre of the Jews in 20th-century Europe which can really instigate the reassertion of Nazism. Might it just be that the countries which have such laws would rather not talk about the subject or have others talk about it? Such a justification is completely absurd. The subject is something which will only be thoroughly and honestly examined after the generations which experienced the events have died.

Curiously, the Turkish government might recognize the massacre of the Armenians but not feel obliged to recognize it because it happened under the Ottomans. One way or the other, Irving should be compared to the Turkish state because they deny the occurrences. In contrast, Ohran Pamuk is comparable to the Austrian state in that they both accept the historical authenticity of the events. That is, unless someone accepts that one of the atrocities did not happen, which brings into the realm of no-return.

Maybe we can say that the Austrian law is meant to protect the Jews and the rest of the Austrian population. Or are they synonomous with the state?

by Quentin on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The laws might actually be counter-productive, as one might legitimately wonder why you need draconian laws to protect the truth. It also allows idiots like Ahmadinejad an easy handle for antisemitic diatribes "first they invent a holocaust and then they imprison anyone who challenges that!", and makes other idiots like Irving into martyrs of free speech.

But, Germany and Austria came out of WWII afraid of themselves, and that's where the laws come from.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France has the same laws, and obviously the European Parliament agrees:


Holocaust critic can be tried

Strasbourg - A far-right French leader and member of the EU was stripped of his immunity from court proceedings yesterday, allowing French authorities to prosecute him for casting doubt on the Holocaust. Bruno Gollnisch, a top official in the National Front party, had publicly questioned whether the Nazis used gas chambers and suggested the number of Jews killed might have been exaggerated.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 11:12:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's what he said:


A l'époque, il avait lancé : «Quant à l'existence des chambres à gaz, c'est aux historiens d'en discuter», ajoutant que les historiens avaient «le droit» de discuter «sur le nombre de morts, sur la façon dont les gens sont morts» dans les camps nazis.

"As to the existence of gas chambers, it is up to historians to discuss it" adding that they had "the right" to discuss "the number of death, and the way people died" in nazi camps.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 11:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's all? That's the most egregious quotation you could find in what he said?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 11:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but I have to agree with Quentin here (as well as with Migeru's last comment).  You're going to breed more hatred from the loud minority than anything else.  This borders on "Thought Crime," in my opinion, and the actions of the state are more terrifying than the words of Gollnisch, because Gollnisch does not have the power.

I have no doubt that he and Le Pen are pieces of garbage who say horrible things.  (I know Le Pen is and has, but I'm not familiar with Gollnisch, honestly.)  Freedom of Speech means freedom of speech for everyone -- including the freedom to say stupid and inaccurate things.  We all hate what these little Nazis say, but we ought to defend their right to say it.  History has already been written, and it is a terrible-enough history that it will not be cast aside by this moron.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 03:18:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We all hate what these little Nazis say, but we ought to defend their right to say it.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to disagree with you.  Yes, freedom of speech is for everyone but not for everything.  That's why we have laws that regulate excesses of freedom.  National laws are also an expression to stop violent behaviour or hateful statements, which again can lead to violence or an infringement of other people's life. I reckon that such an excellent site as Eurotrib also has a standard for acceptable behaviour. :)

We all hate what these little Nazis say, but we ought to defend their right to say it.

I have a problem seeing the logic in the concept of defending someone's perceived rights to infringe upon other peoples basic Human Rights.  It is not a right, but an abuse.  These people are not engaged in a meaningful discussion but to utter abuse.  This is however the classical and eternal dilemma of applying Human Rights in society.  In my opinion, by defeating the Nazis in 1945, we drew a line for what was acceptable conduct and behaviour and this has to be applied even today, although carefully.  

It is a misconception that the freedom of speech is an absolute.  In theory it is, but not in practical terms.
Peaceful interaction between human beings naturally excludes an absolute freedom of speech.  This has been done naturally through social codex, but when this has failed laws have been applied.  Laws in themselves are boundaries for absolute freedom.    

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to disagree with you.  Yes, freedom of speech is for everyone but not for everything.  That's why we have laws that regulate excesses of freedom.  National laws are also an expression to stop violent behaviour or hateful statements, which again can lead to violence or an infringement of other people's life. I reckon that such an excellent site as Eurotrib also has a standard for acceptable behaviour. :)

But there is a is a very bold line to avoid crossing here.  Politics rests, in large part, on precedent, and, while I agree that there should be some limits to what you may say -- namely, that you should not be allowed to say things on par with (say) inciting violence -- I do not agree that this qualifies as falling under those limits.  EuroTrib has standards, I'm sure, but EuroTrib is privately held.

I am, for example, allowed to tell people to leave my home if what they say offends me, because it is my home, whereas Gollnisch's comments do not interfere with the lives or property of others.  Quite the contrary, the actions of the state, here, interfere with his rights.  If you throw everyone in jail for saying something stupid and/or offensive, we're all going to spend our lives stamping license plates.

He's, of course, dishonest in his statements, but he is not harming anyone or directing others to harm anyone here.  (He may have on other occasions.  As I mentioned, I don't know his history.)  There is a difference between saying, "This event never happened," and saying, "Hey, guys, go kill some Jews."

I have a problem seeing the logic in the concept of defending someone's perceived rights to infringe upon other peoples basic Human Rights.  It is not a right, but an abuse.  These people are not engaged in a meaningful discussion but to utter abuse.  This is however the classical and eternal dilemma of applying Human Rights in society.  In my opinion, by defeating the Nazis in 1945, we drew a line for what was acceptable conduct and behaviour and this has to be applied even today, although carefully.

Your analysis in the first half of the paragraph is subjective and cannot be the basis for constitutional law.  Whose rights has he infringed upon in that statement?  He's not inciting violence.  He's simply saying something that we know to be false.

What you consider an abuse, your neighbor may consider meaningful (or he may not).  Either way, contributing to a serious discussion is not a requirement in speech.  I can (say) tell people that the color of the sky is red.  I would be wrong in saying so, and my statement would in no way contribute to a meaningful discussion, but being wrong in saying things of no meaning is not a criminal act.

There is only one line to draw: Freedom stops when your actions (or, on very rare occasions, words) harm others -- inciting violence, destruction of character (a civil-court issue), and so on.

I've given examples of areas where freedom of speech is not absolute, but I think the guiding principle in the previous paragraph is all that is needed when it comes to free speech.  When your words carry no direct attack on the rights of others, I think freedom of speech is absolute.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All good points.

Europe has decided that the "slippery slope" argument needed to be taken into account: let such talk get too frequent and banal, and slowly you get to the point where these things (killing Jews and other hated categories) actually takes place. It happened once, it might happen again.

Maybe it's too conservative, but it is hard to dismiss given our tragic history. And frankly, I cannot be bothered about the freedom to blather obvious lies, especially when coming form people whom we know to have a racist and antisemitic agenda. (How do we "know" - because they keep on repeating these borderline things and behaving accordingly)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair argument.  The slippery slope -- and you're absolutely right to point it out -- does, however, run in both directions.  So, on some level, there is a need to guard against slipping in either direction.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:38:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a difference between saying, "This event never happened," and saying, "Hey, guys, go kill some Jews."
This guy is not even quoted in the article Jerome linked as saying the holocaust never happened, although he may have said it on other occasions.

Libération: Gollnisch perd son immunité de député européen
Gollnisch loses his MEP immunity

Accusé de contestation de crime contre l'humanité, il comparaîtra à Lyon.
Accused of contesting crimes against humanity, he will appear [before court] in Lyon
I am actually rather bothered by the name of the offence he's charged with. It's not even "hate speech" but "contesting crimes against humanity".
Les eurodéputés ont finalement conclu, selon le rapport de la Britannique Diana Wallis, que le délégué général du FN ne s'était pas exprimé «dans l'exercice de ses fonctions» de parlementaire.
The MEPs finally concluded, accoding to the report by the British [MEP] Diana Wallis, that the general delegate of the National Front hadn't expressed himself "in the exercise of his functions" as MEP
Fair enough.
Selon Diana Wallis, ces déclarations sont «directement liées aux activités professionnelles de M. Gollnisch en tant que professeur à l'université Lyon-III», dont il a, depuis, été exclu pour cinq ans.
According to Diana Wallis, these remarks [quoted by Jerome above] are "directly tied to Mr. Gollnisch's professional activity as a professor at the University of Lyon-III", from which he, subsequently, has been excluded for five years
So maybe he did deny the holocaust (although the Liberation article did not quote him) and then used the fact that he's a histrorian to weasel out of it by saying "historians of all people should be allowed to discuss the particulars of what happened". In any case, the EP used his defensive remarks as a convenient excuse to lift his immunity from prosecution.
S'appuyant sur les propos de Jacques Chirac, qui a estimé la semaine dernière, au sujet de la polémique sur le «rôle positif» de la colonisation, que «ce n'est pas à la loi d'écrire l'histoire», le numéro 2 du FN a prévenu qu'il se présenterait devant le tribunal «non pas en accusé mais en accusateur». Car il ne considère pas «légitimes les lois scélérates et liberticides» qui répriment le négationnisme, telle la loi Gayssot de 1990.
Drawing support from Jacques Chirac's position, who remarked last week, on the controversy over the "positive role" of colonisation, that "it is not for the law to write history", the National Front's no. 2 man warned that he would present himself before the court "not as accused but as accuser". [This is] because he does not consider "legitimate the villainous and illiberal laws" repressing Holocaust denial, such as the Gayssot act of 1990.
This is not to say that people like Goynisch are not dangerous. On the contrary, he shows he's quite smart in the way he argues his case, the legalistic distinctions he makes (for instance, between MEPs 'lifting' and 'not defending' his immunity) and the fact that he uses Chirac's opinion on the colonisation law as a talking point. As was discussed in the thread Torture and the Weimar Republic, the enemies of the rule of law are most dangerous when they use legalistic tactics to undermine it. But it does seem that the speech laws we are discussing are just affording these genocide apologists a spot in the limelight that they don't deserve.

We might be better served if they were quietly ignored. On the other hand, in the case of Turkey it is the state that is denying crimes against humanity so it is good that the Pamuk case gets as much media attention as possible.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:52:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, then I conclude that we agree on the issue that freedom, in practical terms, cannot be unlimited, although you have to be careful when applying restrictions.  

EuroTrib has standards, I'm sure, but EuroTrib is privately held.

My point was that restrictions on freedom of speech are applied even in private forums as a mutually accepted social codex.  This social codex is the basis for national laws. A State has a much greater responsibility towards its citizens and their basic Human Rights than each individual. (Even though it ideally shouldn't be so).  

Gollnisch's comments do not interfere with the lives or property of others. (..) Freedom stops when your actions (or, on very rare occasions, words) harm others -- inciting violence, destruction of character (a civil-court issue), and so on.

If I understand you right, you seem to have a too narrow interpretation of the legal substance of the Human Rights when you only focus on lives and property in a physical sense.  Human Rights also include social, cultural and psychological rights, such as respect for identity and integrity. Whether Gollnisch's comments constitutes an act of discrimination is to be seen, but in my opinion and it seems the French authorities too, they justifies an investigation since Gollnisch is a member of the European Parliament, thus a public figure and a French citizen.  Still, I have to say that the case of Gollnisch seems to constitute a borderline case.    

Article 20, The UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(..) 2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Article 29, Of the UN Declaration of the Human Rights.

(..) (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

He's, of course, dishonest in his statements, but he is not harming anyone or directing others to harm anyone here.

No, not physically but he is degrading the collective Jewish history, their identity and their integrity by  
publicly questioning their suffering, which is by most of us accepted as a fact?  The question is why? By knowing Gollnisch's background, being a member of the National Front party of Le Pen, it is pretty obvious what his intentions are.  Now since I don't know exactly what the guy said it is hard to have a specific opinion of whether he has uttered a discriminatory statement or not, but by French standards it seems to be worth looking into, of which I agree.  Whether he will be convicted or not remains to be seen.

Your analysis in the first half of the paragraph is subjective and cannot be the basis for constitutional law.  

Well an analysis is always subjective, within reason of course, although you have to have a factual basis, but then again it was meant to be a subjective statement.            

I agree that subjectivity can not be the basis for constitutional law, but most laws have to be interpreted to the best of someone's abilities and thus are subjected to the judicial expert's qualified opinions.  I am not a judicial expert and haven't argued that I am in my comment.  Still my opinions in this matter seems to coincide with what the French believe and many other people for that matter.        

What you consider an abuse, your neighbour may consider meaningful (or he may not).

Well, when I used the word abuse I didn't mean normal obscenity I was discussing the Holocaust issue, which I presume we are. On that matter I do think most people will agree over what is an abuse or not.  That is why statements from people like David Irving and Gollnisch causes such uproar in Europe and the rest of the world for that matter.  

When your words carry no direct attack on the rights of others, I think freedom of speech is absolute.

Well, this is your opinion, but others seem to disagree and that is why David Irving is arrested and Gollnisch is stripped of his immunity and are now under investigation.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point was that restrictions on freedom of speech are applied even in private forums as a mutually accepted social codex.  This social codex is the basis for national laws. A State has a much greater responsibility towards its citizens and their basic Human Rights than each individual. (Even though it ideally shouldn't be so).

They're mutually accepted, but, in the end, the person who owns (say) ET has the power.  Either we, the members, abide by the rules, or we leave.

What the government does is not the same as what someone does with his or her possession.  The same principle does not apply.  The individual has control over himself and his property, whereas government has no such claim.  It gains its powers from the citizens, and we are all equal owners in it.  So Gollnisch has just as much right to voice his idiotic views as you and I (and, in all honesty, I voice my fair share of idiotic views, though none as hateful as Gollnisch).

Gollnisch's comments cannot be interpreted as an act of discrimination.  Who is he discriminating against?  Discrimination necessitates having the power to deny the actions of others.  Unless other MEPs share his views, he has no such power.  And, if other MEPs share his views, then the problem is much bigger than the views of one man.

2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

This is precisely my point.  The UN has drawn the exact same line that I have.  Gollnisch's comments in the piece do no such thing.

No, not physically but he is degrading the collective Jewish history, their identity and their integrity by publicly questioning their suffering, which is by most of us accepted as a fact?  The question is why? By knowing Gollnisch's background, being a member of the National Front party of Le Pen, it is pretty obvious what his intentions are.  Now since I don't know exactly what the guy said it is hard to have a specific opinion of whether he has uttered a discriminatory statement or not, but by French standards it seems to be worth looking into, of which I agree.  Whether he will be convicted or not remains to be seen.

Degrading the history of a people violates no one's rights.  You shouldn't throw people into jail for being obnoxious, or racist, or xenophobic, or whatever -- again, so long as they are not inciting violence.

Still my opinions in this matter seems to coincide with what the French believe and many other people for that matter.

Which is fine, but how is this not equivalent to the Sanity by Consensus we see among fundamentalist Christians who argue that they're right about literal interpretation of the Bible because other people agree?  This is the sort of problem that constitutions are supposed to defend people like Gollnisch from.

That is why statements from people like David Irving and Gollnisch causes such uproar in Europe and the rest of the world for that matter.

And they should be punished in the political realm through ridicule and calls for their resignation, among other things.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 01:36:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're mutually accepted, but, in the end, the person who owns (say) ET has the power.  Either we, the members, abide by the rules, or we leave.  What the government does is not the same as what someone does with his or her possession.  The same principle does not apply.  The individual has control over himself and his property, whereas government has no such claim.  It gains its powers from the citizens, and we are all equal owners in it.

Well, this is exactly my point.  The owner of ET is the equivalent to the State in this case. In society we abide by mutually accepted principles too.  The non-written one's (social conduct of accepted behaviour) which is the relation between individuals and the written one's (the laws) which is the relation between the citizen and the State.  

If you don't abide you are socially ostracised or tried, sentenced and convicted. And yes, in a democratic society, the State gains its powers from the citizens.  The citizens have chosen to rescind some of their freedoms in exchange for being protected by the State from infringement on their basic rights.  In doing so they accept the power of the State and agree to abide by its laws and thus accepts the States control over parts of their lives and, in some cases, even their property (the States right to expropriate privately held land).  

Human rights are incorporated into the laws of a democratic State to 1. Ensure that the State abide by them, and 2. Safeguard the citizen's rights against abuse or violence from other citizens or individuals.  In short the same principles do apply with one major difference, and that is the States monopoly on using force.

.....So Gollnisch has just as much right to voice his idiotic views as you and I.  Discrimination necessitates having the power to deny the actions of others.  Unless other MEPs share his views, he has no such power.  

No, not if he is advocating (see voicing), in this case, racial hatred and incites discrimination.  The Human Rights Charter doesn't only cover the rights to physical attributes but also mental ones.  The denial of Holocaust is perceived infringement on the victims of the Holocaust and their relatives and thus is punishable by Law:  

United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 1904 (XVIII) of 20 November 1963.

Article 1

Discrimination between human beings on the ground of race, colour or ethnic origin is an offence to human dignity and shall be condemned as a denial of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among peoples.

Article 2

1. No State, institution, group or individual shall make any discrimination whatsoever in matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the treatment of persons, groups of persons or institutions on the ground of race, colour or ethnic origin.  

2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

This is precisely my point.  The UN has drawn the exact same line that I have.

No, not quite, since you seem to imply that racist views are OK as long as people do not incite to violence. You shouldn't throw people into jail for being obnoxious, or racist, or xenophobic, or whatever -- again, so long as they are not inciting violence.

.....but how is this not equivalent to the Sanity by Consensus we see among fundamentalist Christians who argue that they're right about literal interpretation of the Bible because other people agree?  This is the sort of problem that constitutions are supposed to defend people like Gollnisch from.

Well, first of all this is not an equivalent for the fact that these fundamentalists are not empowered to judge in conflicts and to uphold the law as the State is. Second the views of fundamentalists be it Jewish, Christian or Muslim, are not of universal significance and thus not applicable.  In fact their views are often as intolerant as the views of Irving and Gollnisch and thus in conflict with the accepted ethics of the society at large.  It is a misconception that the laws are made to protect deviation, especially if this deviation is detrimental to other citizens or people. In fact it is in such cases the law are to protect the victims from the offender.  As I have said and shown in my previous comment:

Article 29, Of the UN Declaration of the Human Rights.

(..) (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Yes, the constitution is supposed, amongst other things, to defend the citizen's basic rights against State infringements as well as infringements from other individuals or groups of individuals, in this case, the discrimination and Holocaust denials of people like Irving and Gollnisch against the Jews.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 05:39:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not quite, since you seem to imply that racist views are OK as long as people do not incite to violence.

I'm not saying they're OK.  I'm saying that there will always be racists, and that people should not be thrown in jail merely for being racists.  Ignorance and hatred are not criminal acts in and of themselves.

Well, this is exactly my point.  The owner of ET is the equivalent to the State in this case. In society we abide by mutually accepted principles too.  The non-written one's (social conduct of accepted behaviour) which is the relation between individuals and the written one's (the laws) which is the relation between the citizen and the State.

But the owner of ET is not the same as the State.  The State's actions are necessarily limited, to avoid infringement on our rights.  You and I have no rights as ET members, because we have no share in ownership in ET.  The owner of ET can (say) throw us out at any time and for any reason.  The State cannot.

No, not if he is advocating (see voicing), in this case, racial hatred and incites discrimination.  The Human Rights Charter doesn't only cover the rights to physical attributes but also mental ones.  The denial of Holocaust is perceived infringement on the victims of the Holocaust and their relatives and thus is punishable by Law:

At what point is he inciting racial discrimination or hatred?  Simply denying an event, no matter how hideous that event may have been (and this was among the most hideous), is not an infringment on the rights of the victims, their relatives, or the Jewish people as a whole.  We don't have a natural right to be shielded from offensive comments.

In fact their views are often as intolerant as the views of Irving and Gollnisch and thus in conflict with the accepted ethics of the society at large.  It is a misconception that the laws are made to protect deviation, especially if this deviation is detrimental to other citizens or people. In fact it is in such cases the law are to protect the victims from the offender.  As I have said and shown in my previous comment

I may be bordering on echoing Crazy Maggie Thatcher in this paragraph, but how do we establish the accepted ethics of the "society" at large?  (I use quotation marks, because I think the word is used to justify all sorts of things, when there is little or no way of establishing such ethics.)  If we push this to extremes, you arrive at the slippery-slope discussed above by Jerome and I.

"Don't kill" and "Don't steal" are constitutional laws, not because of ethical considerations, but because of their direct relation to issues of privacy, freedom and economics -- namely, that these three things cannot exist without those two protections.

(By the way, I in no way mean this to be taken as my telling those of you from Europe how to run your own countries and the EU.  Just wanted to make that clear.)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 11:28:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the discussion of Wehrhafte Democratie in the comments to the recent diary Torture and the Weimar Republic.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:45:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 :) Well, according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, article 53 (level of protection) .....adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by international agreements to which the Union, the Community or all the Member States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States constitutions.  

article 54 (Prohibition of abuse of rights).
Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.

These articles were made to protect the basic human rights and to prohibit infringement of them (in this case the excess of freedom of speech). Just as criminal (or civil law in some countries) law on the national level where your freedom of speech is curb by the protection of personal integrity and minorities rights to live in safety.

By denying the Holocaust (David Irving) and by denying the mass-killings of the Armenians (Turkey) they are denying these people their history and identity. But they also deny them their historic vulnerability in Europe and thus basic security and means of defence in the future.  

The comparison between the Orhan Pamuk case and the David Irving case is to my opinion not relevant because Irving and his followers are expressing views that are an infringement on other people's rights (read the Jewish people's rights), while Orhan Pamuk is trying to promote these rights in exposing the truth about the tragedy of the Armenian people during the last days of the Ottoman empire.  

My point is that its not the subjects in themselves which is important but what they say.  Its Turkey and David Irving that are infringing upon other peoples rights thus, as I pointed out above, its not relevant to compare the cases of Irving and Pamuk.  The cynical part in this, is that Turkey is a State while Irving is an individual.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 12:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The diarist says it all:

'The trial of Orhan Pamuk displays a total lack of understanding of basic human rights, the very rights the European Union is built upon.'

But on second thought maybe the diarist and I share some misconceptions about the EU: could it be that the human rights which are generally cited as the foundation of the EU's moral stance carry less weight when a country as big and as potentially economically strong as Turkey comes into play? All along, Turkey has been given a free ride, however bumpy at times. Turkey keeps fine-tuning its laws and behavior just enough to keep accession on track. The EU refuses to see that Turkey seems basically to act opportunistically and lacks any deep, underlying conviction of the imperative to protect and encourage human rights. Turkey does not understand that human rights demand emotional and intellectual commitment, constant review and reassessment: for Turkey, it seems, human rights are more a means to a dazzling economic end. Will the EU jump all over this, maybe by suspending negotiations with Turkey? I predict not, and I am not clairvoyant.

by Quentin on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:26:06 AM EST
See above: Turkey isn't a member yet, and the one thing that could derail membership is a failure to sort out it's human rights legislation and stuff.

Mind you, with the way the UK and US are going Turkey is going to look like a shining beacon of human rights pretty soon.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Romania could yet see its already agreed accession derailed by the CIA prison scandal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a reason for why Turkey has not been admitted into the EU yet, and the fact that EU has started the preparations for the negotiation with Turkey doesn't mean that it will result in membership.  Turkey will be measured against the so called Copenhagen criteria's of which basic human rights is an important part. I don't think the trial of Orhan Pamuk is helping progress in the negotiations for membership.  Still, have in mind, that the guy is not convicted of anything yet.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 01:13:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an interesting US twist to the Armenian/Turkish issue:

Weekend Edition - Sunday, November 20, 2005 · A federal lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Education accuses the state of censorship and political interference for using the word "genocide" in its high school curriculum to describe the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. Plaintiffs in the suit say that designation is up for debate - but opponents say the evidence of genocide is clear.

To listen to the story go here

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:21:10 AM EST
A Boston Globe article on the topic:

THE RECENT lawsuit filed on behalf of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, a student, and two teachers claims that the Massachusetts Board of Education is censoring history and denying freedom of speech. Why? Because educational materials about genocide and human rights, approved by the board, removed reference to a Turkish government website that denies the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. If the board were to endorse websites denying the reality of the Holocaust, Massachusetts citizens would be justifiably outraged.

For more click here

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust is diplomatic. Turkey considers itself the successor state of the Ottoman Empire and has never admitted that what happened was genocide. Germany, of the other hand, does not consider itself a successor state of the Third Reich, and condemns the Holocaust for what it is. As Turkey is a valuable ally of the west, nobody wants to piss them off. This could easily escalate into a diplomatic incident.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:43:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's the core of the whole insane kabuki around Turkey's accession talks: it's such a valuable ally no one wants to piss it off. Why doesn't the EU once and for all realize that, at this stage, it has much more to offer than it can possibly get in return and that it would be good thing to make Turkey finally toe the line, with no ifs, ands or buts. In my view, the same applies by now to the U.S.A. The big question is: why does the EU speak out of both sides of its mouth and appease where it knows that a more confrontational approach would be fruitful? Fear of reposibility? If so, who would want to be responsible for 'rendition flights' over the EU?
by Quentin on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:43:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, our diplomats are spineless.

I am afraid it may not even be spinelessness but a delibarate avoidance of controversial foreign policy positions because of fear that old alliances and divisions within Europe could be revived. Remember that when the former Yugoslavia broke up, Germany and France tripped over each other trying to be the first to recognize their WWI allies (France Serbia, and Germany Croatia). That was downright scary. You don't want to force a split over a hardline stance with the US (new vs. old Europe) or over Turkey (again reviving WWI alliances).

Are we Europeans too afraid of our past? Maybe. But we seem intent on tiptoeing around these dormant issues for fear of what might happen if we reopen a debate on them.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that sounds really macho and cool but won't work. Painfully slow progress will work. That's what we're doing.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Macho and cool? Simply: don't be afraid to annoy Turkey. At one point Turkey has to become equal and come clean in public: just like all the rest of the crowd. When France and the UK annoy each other, which they do intentionally, are they being macho and cool? Why does Turkey get extraordinary treatment for more than 40 years? Is it such a non-European entity that 40 years of behind-the-scnes, nitpicking diplomacy has been necessary to get it just to this point? It seems so. So where is the Turkish commitment? Don't fret, the Turks are more than capable of negotiating politely on the head of pin until the end of time.
by Quentin on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 04:47:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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