The Jambar at Youngstown State University has published a sound editorial on intellectual freedom and the responsibility of a free press in response to criticisms it has received for publishing my ad, "A QUESTION FOR THE U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM."
The otherwise fine editorial asserts that I call into question "whether the Holocaust actually occurred," which can mislead the reader. While I do question “gas chambers,” gas chambers are one thing, the “Holocaust” another. We should not conflate them. Never mind that it is commonplace among mainline journalists and even academics to do exactly that.
THE JAMBAR EDITORIAL BOARD
Issue date: 2/5/09
We will not protect bad ideas from public scrutiny.
We ran an ad last week which appears again today from a man named Bradley R. Smith of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. In it, he calls into question whether the Holocaust actually occurred.
The response from readers has been, uniformly, to ask us why we would run such an ad. They point out how offensive the ad is, especially to those who have had relatives die in the Holocaust, or survive it. They wonder why we would give voice to what many would classify as hate speech.
As a newspaper, we are in a position to control speech, or to defend it. We could easily say that since this particular ad is extreme in nature, it should be suppressed. But then, who defines extreme? If we start to suppress the voices we don't believe in, it would start with this ad, but could spill over into far less volatile areas.
If we set that precedent, perhaps future editors could take it a step further and suppress views they disagree with on issues such as abortion, global warming or taxes.
If we only allow the acceptable voices to be heard, what would happen when we disagreed with the acceptable voices?
We are an open forum. Just as Smith was able to run his ad in our pages, anyone is free to shout him down, and is welcome to do so.
We enjoy a tremendous freedom in this country. It is not a freedom not to be offended. Rather, it is a freedom to hear all voices, and have ours be heard. It is through the marketplace of ideas that bad ideas are defeated.
President Woodrow Wilson said, "I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."