In Outlawing Genocide Denial, historian and political scientist Guenter Lewy scrutinizes the controversial practice of criminalizing genocide denial.
Holocaust denial can be viewed as another form of hatred against Jews and restricting it can be understood as a way of preventing hate speech. Germany has made it a crime punishable by law. Other European countries have adopted similar laws. While the rationales for criminalizing speech seems reasonable, Lewy asks readers to look again and to consider carefully the dangers of doing so. His discussion neither dismisses the ramifications of genocide denial nor justifies it; he instead looks closely at the possible risks of government-enforced interpretations of history.
By outlawing genocide denial, governments set a precedent for dictating historical "truth" and how events should be interpreted. Such government restrictions can be counterproductive in a democratic society that values freedom of speech. Lewy examines these and related ideas through the analysis of historical and current examples. He posits his own conclusion but leaves it to readers to view the evidence and arguments and to form their own opinions.
Guenter Lewy is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. His books include The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany; The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies; The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide(The University of Utah Press, 2005); and Essays on Genocide and Human Intervention (The University of Utah Press, 2012).