Last year, I raised the ire of some of my academic colleagues when I wrote an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen arguing Austria was correct to jail holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving's translations of Wehrmacht documents has added to the primary source material available to historians, and he had credibility as a Second World War amateur historian until he adopted the cause of the neo-Nazi movement. It was his credibility that was a threat to the social order. Germany, Austria, and the countries of Eastern Europe are very new democracies. They might not be able to withstand the type of subversion of democracy and the stifling of real political debate that the Nazis accomplished in the lead-up to their seizure of power in Germany. Hitler's henchmen used lies, distortions, dirty tricks and media exposure to subvert democracy. The Nazis pushed their rights to the limit, and past the limit, during the Wiemar Republic. They should not be allowed to do so again.
Canada's neo-Nazi movement is really just a joke, a few damaged individuals, some small groups of losers, and a few jailbirds. The real threat to Canada's Jewish community comes from the Islamicists and from lefties trendoids who have adopted the French socialist view that Israel and Zionism, and Jews themselves, are tools of American capitalism. I have seen far, far more anti-semitism among Francophone intellectuals in Canada and in the Quebec media than I have on the streets. (In this regard, the silence among Canada's politicians and pundits, who were so loud about Jan Wong's musings, has been deafening). There is also a strong current of hate in the media and on the Internet directed at the many decent, law-abiding and community-active Muslims in Canada. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have a David Warman on their side.
Still, the Human Rights Commission has come down with a decision that seems right and fair. A Canadian neo-Nazi is being punished for promoting hate and violence, which are real crimes. And the fine of $4,000, while not crippling, is enough to give others real cause to think about their actions before posting hate on the Internet.