Hate looks worst if well lit

An adverstisement in The Northern Star Friday questioning the accuracy of the Holocaust has raised doubts whether it should have been published. While we don’t support the ideas it presented, banning the ad for its content would create a dangerous precedent.

The ad seemed as scientifically valid as those asking money for research on UFOs or the Loch Ness monster—all ones we would print without a second thought.

But the Holocaust ad suggested something much more serious. Not only does the ad deny a tragedy many living people witnessed, but it claims our government may be hiding or making up evidence.

On top of this, the ad ran on the eve of the Kristallnacht anniversary, when huge anti-Semitic riots in Nazi Germany in 1938 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Jews, the mass destruction Jewish-owned property and the incarceration of tens of thousands in concentration camps.

But since the 1970s, commercial advertising, particularly of a political nature, has gained increased First Amendment protection from the courts. And a newspaper would be a poor advocate of free inquiry if it only published political ideas it agreed with.

Besides, publishing the ad discredits rather than supports its ideas. Its appearance, in synch with the Kristallnacht anniverary, does more to undermine its supposedly “scholarly” motives than any suppression could accomplish.

The hard price of free speech is the necessity of tolerating the expression of repugnant ideas. But free speech is the best way to ensure that a catastrophe like the Holocaust never happens again.