Posted by: Lister | November 28, 2007

Irving, Griffin and Luke Tryl

According to letters to the Independent, some of the protestors at Oxford where shouting “kill Tryl” — Luke Tryl being the student union president who invited the unwelcome guests.

Here’s a good point made in one of those letters:

Sir: In 1969 I attended a packed meeting of the Cambridge Society for Social Responsibility in Science on “Race and IQ”, where Professor Arthur Jensen was one of the speakers. His article in the Harvard Educational Review, arguing that inter-racial differences in scholastic performance were mostly due to genetic differences in intelligence, had excited fierce controversy.

In Cambridge he was accorded the same polite attention as all the other speakers, who systematically chipped away at parts of his argument. Eventually Jensen admitted that the key inference in his argument was “technically invalid”. He insisted he still believed his conclusion was correct, despite his argument being invalid, but in that moment his case was destroyed.

I regret that we recently lost the opportunity to persuade James Watson to make a similar admission. If erroneous and generally abhorrent views are subjected to calm, persistent and withering rational criticism, there is a chance that those who hold them will come to “see the light”. If the expression of such views is simply suppressed, then they will fester unchallenged, in a kind of inner, raging and self-righteous darkness. And if we hate sufficiently strongly, in the end we may become the very evil we think we fight against.

Jonathan Powers
Quarndon, Derbyshire

Which says it all.
If you do not allow these people a platform, then they still get heard. The difference is that they will not have to defend their positions while debating with knowledgeable people.

Irving has many fans. Do you really think that such people will do even the slightest research? If they knew how absurd Irving was, they wouldn’t be his fans. And yet they are. Why?

I think every Irving fan would have watched the debate at Oxford if it had been televised. They could have learnt something. Instead, all these fans will be listening to Irving say: “They couldn’t argue against me, so they tried to prevent people listening to me.”

Why give a nutcase that kind of victory?

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