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Dangerous voices

Dear Editor:Austria’s conviction and imprisonment of David Irving for Holocaust denial and the cartoon riots in the Muslim world have sparked a significant debate about freedom of speech. An American who cherishes the Bill of Rights, I am all for the application of the First Amendment in just about every circumstance, but I have to add the cautionary note that there can be a high price to pay for freedom of speech. A few months ago, I was among the recipients of e-mail from Steve Campbell with links to hate sites including Holocaust denial that are illegal in Germany and Austria. A phone conversation with Campbell convinced me of his determination to disseminate these sites whenever and wherever possible. It is likely that Campbell is giving out those links to anyone attending his “Truth about 9/11” screenings at the Glenwood Springs library. When poison – whether violent pornography, hard drugs, or hate sites – are peddled in a community, they often reach the most susceptible. We don’t have to look very far from home to see the impact that inflaming websites can have on alienated youth. Seven years ago, a pair of disturbed adolescents were surfing neo-Nazi sites and deciding to commemorate Hitler’s birthday at Columbine High School. I am not advocating curtailing freedom of speech, but I know that the censorship laws in Germany and Austria are the result of bitter lessons from a horrific time. I have no answers, only questions prompted by the chilling knowledge that a disseminator of dangerous material is making public presentations, and participating in public programs of the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition. That’s a lot of potential for exposure to vicious propaganda. Let’s hope that all those so exposed are sufficiently mature and balanced to rationally evaluate it. Judith KingValley Voices for Mid-East PeaceGlenwood Springs


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