Banning Hate on the net won’t work

Editorial, The Australian, Thursday September 19 2002  

Jeremy Jones, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, did only what could have been expected. Fredrick Töben, an obsessional Holocaust denier sometimes called Australia’s David Irving, had continued to publish material disputing the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, and other material highly offensive to Jews. Dr Töben’s Adelaide Institute website was filled with what the council described as “malicious anti-Jewish propaganda”, such as blaming Jews for Stalin’s crimes.

Under the 1995 Racial Hatred Act, “public acts” that are “reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or group because of race or colour, national or ethnic origin, are illegal. There is a very high proportion of Holocaust survivors in Australia, and no doubt Australia’s Jewish community was highly intimidated and offended by Dr Töben’s rantings. So Mr Jones took the case to the Human Rights Commission, then to the Federal Court.

But is tinkering with the bizarre internet site where Dr Töben spouts his incoherent, hateful drivel the best way to respond to such views, offensive though they are? The Federal Court has ordered Dr Töben to take the offensive material off his website within seven days, or face contempt and possible jail. This upholds a 2000 finding by the Human Rights Commission. Yet, by issuing the woolly order that he “do all acts and things necessary” to remove the racist material from his website, the Federal Court has conferred on Dr Töben the publicity and notoriety he clearly longs for.

Balancing the need to protect minorities from racial hatred with the right to free speech in a democracy is fraught with complexity; however, ordering the removal from a website of hate material is not the only option. Freedom of expression can be upheld, along with the rights of minorities. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has suggested forcing Dr Töben to publish a detailed disclaimer on his site so that visitors know it contains lies that offend and intimidate Jews. They suggest he would be so incensed, he would rather take down his website altogether. The case highlights the difficulty and subjectivity of policing racial vilification legislation. The Australian’s columnist Phillip Adams, has been investigated for alleged racial vilification of Americans. French novelist Michel Houellebecq, an outspoken libertarian who says Islam is a stupid religion,is on trial for inciting racial hatred. But the writer likes to offend Jews, Arabs, Chinese and Americans too.

Fredrick Töben is a fringe-dwelling German-born peddler of anti-Semitic lies. It is not clear, however, that he was directly inciting people to commit racial violence. It is unfortunate that a man of Dr Töben’s dubious credentials should be made a martyr for free cyber-speech. But he should be able to print his nonsense, perhaps with qualifiers, rather than be forced on to an offshore site, or “underground” offline, where we can’t refute him. Robust public debate should be allowed, and heavy-handed censorship avoided at all cost – especially on the internet, which is more often than not a boon for the kind of free, intelligent expression that can trump Dr Töben and his anti-Jewish cronies. An open society is the best chance for tolerance.



Fredrick Töben replies

Shut up or put up! Please detail the lies on our website.

  Your editorial writer is rather confused and somewhat lacking in moral and intellectual courage. In fact, the defamatory comments, designed to denigrate my work, border on stupidity – and the author of this column must know this. Some time ago a journalist was assigned to do a hatched job on me – then later confessed to me that it was ‘ordered from above’. This is how I view the editorial in today’s Australian.

It indicates to me that there are individuals who are prepared to stoop to any level in order to retain their job and dubious social standing within a profession. Three decades ago journalists were considered to be “ink pissers”, but with the Internet, liberation has occurred where individuals could free themselves from the media dictatorship. Again we have emerging from the ruins of a ‘gutless’ profession (using Phillip Adams’ phrase) the prototype of a fearless journo, thanks to the Internet – and that is good for our moral and intellectual vigour.

I may ask the writer, what is my “incoherent, hateful drivel”? Where are my lies? Please detail then, point by point. If you can find one lie on our website, then please let me know.  But don’t be so silly and follow the Talmudic dialectic of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

We are the ones who oppose lying. For us telling the truth is wholesome because lying destroys trust – and without trust, relationships begin to break down, and societies fracture. But this is what the control freaks want to achieve because they cannot stand anyone who tells the truth. Without trust, there is no freedom of speech. We attempt to set an example of honest reporting!

If the term ‘Holocaust’ is defined as the systematic extermination of European Jewry in homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, then all I am doing is rejecting the belief that a ‘Holocaust’ happened. I have not been convinced of the facts, and my two visits to Auschwitz have confirmed for me that physically it was not possible to gas so many people – in secret!

Further, those that believe this statement are accusing the Germans of a terrible crime – and anyone has the right to demand that the murder weapon, among other things, be produced as proof that such a murder took place.

Professor Robert Faurisson still waits for anyone to fulfill his challenge: “Show me or draw me the homicidal gas chambers!” Why, I ask, has this to date not been done? My answer is that it cannot be done because the gas chamber story is a lie!

Remember what American Holocaust researchers, Michael Hoffman said? - a space museum has a rocket standing there as an exhibit. The Holocaust museum does not have a homicidal gas chamber as an exhibit. Why not? Because they never existed, and anyone who asserts anything about gas chambers is either ignorant of the facts, or they are lying.

Further, what was once sold to tourists as gas chambers – Krema I and Krema II – has now been admitted was not true. Now, it is alleged, the alleged gassings took place in two farmhouses outside of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration complex. The story keeps on changing and changing.

And now Australian law forces us to believe this new version – and that is mental rape. We are back to the days of the Soviet Union where Revisionists were sent to the Gulag prison system because they could not uphold the lies propagated by the state.

Sydney University has a Masters of Arts course in Holocaust studies. Now the so-called ‘Holocaust deniers’ will be fair game for them. The Australians editorial writer has now supported such a witch-hunt. Welcome Gulag Australia where dissenters will languish because they refuse to believe in the ‘Holocaust’ dogma-religion.

The disclaimer at the end for free speech rings hollow. We are not anti-Jewish. The so-called ‘Holocaust’ dogma should never have been the subject of any court order, certainly not under the Racial Discrimination Act – because being Jewish is a religious and not a racial matter.

Dr Fredrick Toben

Director, Adelaide Institute

As of 23 September 2002, this letter has not been published. A call to the newspaper's editorial office confirmed receipt of this response; no explanation was given why the Dr W Jonas letter was published on this day. 

At 17 hours, a further phone call to the Letters Editor, Sydney office, offered this response from Acting Letters Editor, Matthew Spencer: "The editorial made clear what we thought of you. We'll not be publishing your responses."   

And so the media witch-hunt, ignited by Justice Branson's 17 September 2002 judgment has begun. Justice Branson has exercised her power - unchallenged.

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