Letter: Freedom to say what is repugnant

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Sir: The most disturbing thing about the Goebbels diary furore is the rush to suppress, even gag, David Irving. The Independent, above all, should know better.

It was Voltaire who aptly defined free speech when he said: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'

We would do well to be reminded of this maxim in this case. You either have free speech or you do not - there is no such thing as 'almost' free speech.

Mr Irving has compared himself to Salman Rushdie. It is one martyrdom we can well do without. Morally repugnant though Mr Irving's views undoubtedly are, he should not be denied a platform to espouse them. Only when aired can the Irving thesis - such as it is - be shown up for the tissue of lies that it clearly is.

The irony is that one of the most glaring historical examples of the suppression of free speech was that of Goebbels as Hitler's propaganda minister between 1933 and 1945.

Publish and let David Irving be damned.

Yours faithfully,




5 July