The German state of Bavaria, which owns the
rights to Adolph Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, plans to
continue to ban the book after copyright expires in 2015.
According to the BBC,
officials in Bavaria will not be releasing an edited version of the
book as planned.
Of course, anyone is Bavaria can read Hitler’s drivel online,
and Bavaria’s prohibition is unlikely to stop anyone interested in
reading Mein Kampf from doing so.
Although the decision from Bavarian officials is unlikely to
stop Hitler’s work from being read, it does highlight Europe’s far
from ideal relationship with free speech.
In Germany, the Nazi Party is banned and denying the Holocaust
is a punishable offense.
Other countries, such as Austria, Poland, and Hungary
also have legislation that punishes denial of the Holocaust.
Unsurprisingly, memories of the persecution of the Jews in
Europe under the Nazi’s still has the power to influence policy.
The Bavarian Science Minister, Ludwig Spaenle,
said, “Many conversations with Holocaust victims and their
families have shown us that any sort of reprint of the disgraceful
writings would cause enormous pain.”
As Reason’s Jacob Sullum
noted last year when writing about Germany’s relationship with
Scientology, similar legislation banning Holocaust denial or the
publication of books like Mein Kampf would be
considered “unambiguously unconstitutional in the United
The same government that has targeted Scientology because of its
alleged threat to “pluralistic democracy” also uses that rationale
to justify bans on hate speech, Holocaust denial, symbols and books
associated with the Nazi regime, and ethnically divisive political
groups. All those policies would be unambiguously unconstitutional
in the United States, where the government is not allowed to
suppress opinions, religious or not, based on the harm that might
flow from them.
Laws against Holocaust denial and bans on books are illiberal
and should not be enacted. That said, it is worth remembering that
although the Second World War may have ended decades ago many Jews
in Europe recently reported a rise in
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/12/bavaria-plans-to-continue-to-ban-mein-ka