Recently, noted Holocaust denier and general all-around asshole David Irving participated in a debate at Oxford University in England. Naturally, a lot of people didn’t like that. (Lord knows I don’t like the idea of giving these kinds of people platforms, let alone such eminent ones like Oxford.) And they made their unhappiness known most vocally.
But they took it too far. They invaded the speech, disrupted it thoroughly, and even threw eggs at the speakers.
Yes, Irving should never have been invited. And after the invitation was made, it should have been rescinded. But once he took the stage, the time for trying to keep him out was over. That fight was lost. Boycotts, protests, and other actions were certainly appropriate and, indeed, morally mandated, but not disrupting the actual event.
That’s the sort of thing that Irving and his ilk do. They’ve done it to the leaders of the Minuteman Project. They’ve done it to Pat Buchanan. They’ve done it to Ann Coulter. They’ve done it to Daniel Pipes. And those are just the few that come to mind at short notice.
Alan Dershowitz put it best: the best antidote to bad speech is more speech. If someone is saying something you don’t like, refute their arguments. Show others how wrong they are.
But don’t silence them. That only gives credibility to their paranoid persecution fantasies, and lets them claim to be “victims.”
Deny them any shred of credibility. Don’t give them the attention they so desperately crave.