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November 5, 2008

A Matter Of Free Speech

And Hypocrisy Among Nations

One does what one can. A principal reason why I voted against the recent Lisbon Treaty was opposition to Ireland's moving any closer politically to a European Union that permits laws such as these.

British Embassy
Consular Office
29 Merrion Road
Dublin 4

October 28, 2008

Dear Sirs,

A fundamental right defended by nations founded on the principles of law and liberal democracy is the freedom to express one's beliefs openly, without fear of state persecution or harassment. This is of particular importance in fields of science, history, and other areas of factual research, where truth is served best by open debate and the free exchange of information.

Recent years have seen laws passed in a number of European countries making it a criminal offence to express disagreement with what the state deems to be true with respect to certain matters of historical fact, and demands that its citizens accept unquestioningly. Such descent to levels of inquisitorial intolerance befitting of medieval witch hunts or the Stalinist political show trials of the 1930s is a disgrace to the Western world.

As a novelist and science writer, as well as being a British citizen, I wish to put on record my protest at the recent arrest at Heathrow of the Australian historian Frederick Toben, following an extradition demand by the German public prosecutor on the preposterous grounds that Toben's Australian web site, which carries material that would be illegal in Germany, can be accessed from there. Toben has done nothing that constitutes a crime either in his own country or in the U.K. (yet?). For Britain to acquiesce would be a shameful betrayal of all the principles of individual and academic freedom that Britain has traditionally stood for. The implications of such a precedent are sinister, to say the least. What is to be expected next? That an American bookseller visiting England could risk being detained and deported to a European court because a European tourist browsing his shop in the U.S. might buy a forbidden book and take it back home?

Whether one agrees with the position of historical revisionist or not is beside the point. Authorities don't resort to force and repression to silence what they know to be false. Error is most effectively corrected by free debate and open appeal to the facts. They silence what they fear. Such behavior can only invite the question: What do these people know that the world mustn't be allowed to learn? England has no business being an accomplice to such actions.

Sincerely,

James Hogan

 
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