"Revisionism shouldn’t be illegal”

In an interview with the Sunday free-sheet ‘De Zondag’, the philosopher Etienne Vermeersch calls an absolute right to free speech. Mr Vermeersch says that freedom of speech should only be curbed when it comes to slander, defamation of character and encouraging others to commit crimes. However, Mr Vermeersch says that he believes that there racism and even revisionism should not be outlawed. In the interview Mr Vermeersch looks back and the major news stories of the past year.

He told ‘De Zondag’ that "Revisionism, where for example, you are not allowed to say that the Holocaust happened, should not be illegal. Although you can defend the ban for so long close family members of those that were murdered then are still alive. However, in twenty years’ time the ban should be lifted”.

The 81-year-old philosopher has called for absolute freedom of speech in the past. In his view opinions should not be banned, even if some are untrue or hurtful to others.

"This is something you would be better not doing. It is impolite and evening unethical. I think for example that the ban on racist comments is a restriction that goes too far. The same is true of the ban on revisionism, you should be able to say such things”, Mr Vermeersch told the paper.

Etienne Vermeersch points to the fact that historians aren’t always in agreement about events that happened in the past. “In Turkey it is illegal to say that the persecution of the Armenians was genocide, while you have to say the opposite here in Belgium. I feel that both points of view should be allowed.”