Last week, an even stranger martyr was offered for the adoration of the faithful. Dr Johannes Lerle was jailed for a year by a court in Erlangen.More information is at Gerard Harbison's blog. Here's funny stuff: the cranks at evolution-denying blog tried to deny (hehe!) that Lerle is a Holocaust denier. Ahhh, birds of a feather...
You might think this was unremarkable. Dr Lerle is an unabashed and deeply anti-semitic holocaust denier. He takes the view that the only good Jew is a Christian convert. All others are children of the devil: "Jews" with scare quotes round them, to distinguish them from Christians. Those "Jews", his website explains, control the world's press, and the American government, are murderers, hypocrites, liars and bent on world domination for religious reasons. All this and more is on his website but it's in German - a language few Americans read.
And so this rabid nutcase has been taken up by elements of the American right as a hero and a martyr. William Dembski, the leading proponent of "intelligent design", has argued on his blog that the jailing of Lerle proves that advocating intelligent design would soon also be classed as a hate-crime in Europe, and punishable by jail.
More interesting were the comments on the wingnut Free Republic site when one of initial bogus news items about Lerle has been withdrawn. A lot of freepers tried to change the topic to the issue of the free speech in general, i.e. they're now outraged that Holocaust denial is banned in Germany. And I can certainly sympathize with that. But lots of people are prosecuted each year for Holocaust denial in Europe. Were all those freepers under a rock all this time, or is this a "face-saving" outrage?