Barry Steinhardt, President
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
1550 Bryant Street
San Francisco CA 94103-4832
Dear Mr. Steinhardt:
This is a letter of chastisement. It is also an offer to help.
Let me begin by telling you that I am the author and webmaster of a controversial web page,
I am vitally concerned with free speech on the Internet. Your organization claims to share this interest. In fact, many well-intended people have apparently paid dues to your organization. Many have the Blue Ribbon of your "on-line free speech campaign" proudly displayed on their web pages.
When I went to the Electronic Frontier Foundation web page, I read:
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded in July of 1990 to ensure that the principles [of free speech?] embodied in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights (and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights) are protected as new communications technologies emerge. " Your web page also states:
". . . We feel that the best way to protect your rights on the Net is to be fully informed and to make your opinions heard. EFF members are informed and are making a difference. Our members join EFF to make sure that they are on top of the issues . . ."
Yet on October 27, 1998, I did a search of your web site and found NOT ONE mention of Ernst Zundel.
As the president of EFF, you surely must have heard of the Zundel case. I understand this case was prominently discussed among your peers in the Declan McCullough private e-mail forum, and that it is well known in the circles in which you move. You surely know about it.
Why are you withholding this vital information about the Zundel case from the public-- those very people you have promised to keep "on top of the issues"?
As you know, Ernst Zundel is a German-born holocaust revisionist who lives in Toronto, Canada. He claims that, while the Jews undoubtedly did suffer under the German regime, the Hitler designed and directed extermination program for European Jewry never existed in fact. He says that the gas-chamber story of "the holocaust" was an allied propaganda invention, and since that time the fabrication has been used to raise money and to further certain political agendas. Much of his research and his views may be found at:
There is no doubt that Mr. Zundel has offended powerful vested interests. Mr. Zundel has withstood many attempts to silence him, ranging from the filing of court actions against him, to the fire-bombing of his house in Toronto, to an attempt to murder him with a pipe bomb.
At the moment, though, Mr. Zundel is under investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). The Canadian Human Rights Commission claims jurisdiction over telephone-transmitted "hate speech." Right now the Commission is investigating a charge that Mr. Zundel, by expressing his views on the holocaust, is engaging in "hate" speech over the telephone.
Furthermore, the Canadian Human Rights Commission claims that the Internet is "like a telephone" and therefore the Commission has jurisdiction over the "hate" Mr. Zundel is disseminating via the Internet.
But the Commission is nothing more than a kangaroo court. Mr. Harvey Goldberg, director of the policy and planning branch of the CHRC stated in an internal memo as early as 1994 that "holocaust denial" constitutes hatred in and of itself.
You will recall that in "Alice in Wonderland" the verdict came first, before the evidence was presented. But the Canadian Human Rights Commission goes Lewis Carroll one better: the Commission is not interested in evidence at all.
Astonishingly, the Canadian Human Rights Commission recently ruled that Mr. Zundel cannot use the truth of his statements as a defense before the commission! The CHRC words, were, in part:
". . . consistent with a focus on effect rather than intent, it
is the effect of the message on the recipient, and ultimately on the person
or group vilified, that is the focus of the analysis. The truth in some
absolute sense really plays no role. Rather, it is the social context in
which the message is delivered and heard which will determine the effect
that the communication will have on the listener. It is not the truth or
falsity per se that will evoke the emotion but rather how it is understood
by the recipient. The objective truth of the statement is ultimately of
no consequence if the subjective interpretation, by virtue of tone, social
context and medium is one which 'arouses unusually strong and deep-felt
emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification'. Therefore, in our view,
whether the message is true or not is immaterial. Whether it is perceived
to be true or credible may very well add to its impact, but its actual
basis in truth is outside the scope of this inquiry."
(For your convenience, here is the URL that will lead you to the full text of that decision:
Surely both the "Internet is like a telephone" and "truth is no defense" are remarkable legal theories, and the CHRC's case against Zundel is a remarkable case.
Yet there is not *one word* about this case on your web page. And according to Dr. Ingrid Rimland, owner and webmaster of the Zundelsite, you and your organization have done nothing formally or informally to secure technical experts to appear on Mr. Zundel's behalf to disabuse the CHRC of the notion that "the Internet is like a telephone."
SHOULD THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION SUCCEED IN THEIR CASE, A FRIGHTFUL PRECEDENT WOULD BE SET INTERNATIONALLY. Once the Zundel precedent is established, ANY opinion that offends powerful vested interests can be labeled "hate," and the speaker silenced. You surely agree?
It is obvious that powerful vested interests are opposing Mr. Zundel, but surely an organization with your stated aims should not bow before such pressure or discriminate in any way. Censorship is censorship.
Mr. Steinhardt, let us suppose Christian or Islamic fundamentalists were trying to impose censorship on the Internet. Would your organization hold its silence in that case, too? Or would you be marshalling your forces against the effort?
Adherence to principle is demonstrated in the tough cases, the unpopular cases, the cases that offend powerful vested interests. If the holocaust lobby succeeds in getting its camel's nose of censorship under the free speech tent of the Internet in the Zundel case, the free speech tent will fold.
Right now I am doing research for an article on the Zundel case and the response of the Internet community. I would like to interview you for the article. I would be happy to send you a list of questions to answer via e-mail. Please let me know whether you agree to be interviewed. My e-mail addresss, of course, can be found in the header of this message.
Now my offer to help your organization: From the "Sign Me Up" section of your web site, I learn that EFF welcomes activist volunteers. I wish to become an EFF activist volunteer. I hereby volunteer to work on the Zundel case.
As an EFF volunteer, I wish to work on behalf of EFF to make the Zundel case known throughout the Internet. But I want to go further than that. I wish to arrange coverage for the Zundel case in the print and TV arenas , and to inform the Senate and the House of Representatives about the case.
I am well qualified to do this work, having had over 25 years professional experience as a researcher, writer, and publicist. (The Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum is an example of my work.) Conveniently, I live in suburban Virginia. Thus my professional background and my proximity to Washington, DC make the achievement of these goals quite within reach.
I do have a question, though, before I sign up and become a member of EFF. What standards do you expect your members to uphold? If a member organization or individual promotes censorship of the Internet, would he, she, or it be disqualified from your organization? I would be very disappointed if people who argued for Internet censorship were permitted to display your Blue Ribbon just because they had paid the required membership fee.
Carol A. Valentine
President, Public Action, Inc.
Curator, Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum