That was the sentence from Bradley Smith’s reaction to the shooting at D.C’s Holocaust Museum I found most interesting. It reminds me of the debate over desensitizing violent video games some years back. I believe the same arguments were made about pornography before my time. From what I’ve heard evidence (compiled by liberal academics who hate America, families and children in particular) does not support those theories. My own opinion is that weirdos are more likely to be drawn to holocaust denial in the first place, and Von Brunn in particular was a producer rather than a mere consumer of such literature.

Does one have a responsibility to watch what one says based on the reactions of the audience? In the main I agree with Stephan Kinsella’s take on the instigator of a riot in Causation and Aggression. I would say that goes beyond explicitly ordering people to go riot and would (if this actually happened) cover Jim Morrison’s use of crowd psychology to provoke concert-goers.

That covers people who deliberately seek to create such a reaction, what about a result that is not sought but was foreseeable as a likely cause of one’s actions? The law provides manslaughter and other crimes of recklessness which do not require mens rea intent. I think a similar idea applies here and is a reason to include disclaimers if you think listeners might get the wrong idea. All of us speak considering the consequences on our audience. Otherwise we wouldn’t even need to bother speaking the same language or explaining when a bit of technical jargon does not mean what they might assume it does.

Given the difficulty of establishing a causal link between the actions of a single person (out of an unknown number of people who may have heard the message) and what has been said, I don’t propose that we introduce anything to criminal or even tort law to cover dangerous publications. All the same, a legal fiction should not delude us into believing a phenomenon is fictitious.

Being the awful Hansonian reductionist that I am, I wish that Smith & co would “break it down” when it comes to their heretical thoughts. There is a constant conflation of holocaust denial (or revisionism, if you prefer) with matters pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, U.S foreign policy, whether the Nazis were worse than the Soviets and the related matter of whether racism/bigotry is more dangerous than blank-slatism along with a host of other things. Political ideologues group many seemingly unrelated issues together into one world view. If holocaust revisionists really want to be treated like intellectually honest historians it would help if they acted more like scientists seeking the truth regarding specific matters.

Perhaps Bradley really is a bleeding-heart liberal (The Man Who Saw His Own Liver depicts an anti-nuke tax protester during the Cold War) who just happens not to prioritize Darfur or Tibet (I don’t care about them much either, but I’m just generally uncaring), but plenty of White Nationalists who display thoroughly illiberal attitudes about exterminating groups they dislike simultaneously expect sympathy for Palestinians or the civilians fried at Dresden. Those are worthwhile issues to discuss but should preferably be kept distinct from others that might turn things into a victimology contest.

I admit that in my post on Charles Lindbergh I stated that part of the reason I thought it important to look askance at “the good wars” of the past was that they served to justify wars now. As I was saying earlier in the post, it does make sense to keep in mind the likely reactions to what one says and the connections people already make. At the same time the different wars are distinct and one could possibly support or oppose any combination of them, and so discussion of them may be sensibly kept separate.