Telling Lies with Intent to Defame an Ethnic Group        

(This is a current extract from the Patterns of Power Repository.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition02/5462.htm)

Knowingly telling lies, with the intention of defaming or creating hostility against an ethnic group, is a category of speech which can be prohibited without damaging the valuable aspects of free speech.  One example will suffice to illustrate this in detail: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an anti-Semitic hoax and forgery, created by the tsarist police and first published at the end of the 19th century.  It has repeatedly been proved to be a hoax.[1]  It was largely plagiarised from a piece of political satire written by Maurice Joly and published in 1864: Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, which was an attack on the political ambitions of Napoleon III.  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion purports to show a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world (which was what Joly was accusing Napoleon III of trying to do) and it has frequently been quoted by anti-Semitic groups, including the Nazis.  An Internet search[2] for it vividly illustrated the different ways in which the material is made available: 

·      The first search result was Wikipedia, which introduced the material with the information shown above. 

·      The second search result asserted that the material was “genuine”.  It was published by an anti-Semitic website which was hosted in Austria: ‘Bible Believers’. [3]

Most of the searches made the material available, but added a precautionary note to avoid misleading innocent consumers.  Clearly, though, the ‘Bible Believers’ website was content to let its readers believe that the material is genuine – presumably for anti-Semitic reasons.  From a governance perspective it could be argued that the publication of offensive material has to be allowed, to avoid interfering with the freedom of speech, but it seems right that there should also be a legal requirement to provide a clear warning to inform readers that the material is a proven forgery.

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014                                                 

[1] This information was available in Wikipedia, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion  in May 2014.  The political pamphlet, Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu, was written by Maurice Joly in 1864, and was available then at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13187.

On 23 October 2012, the Anti-Defamation League published an assessment of how the document was used; it was entitled A Hoax of Hate: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and was available in May 2014 at http://www.adl.org/anti-semitism/international/c/a-hoax-of-hate-the-protocols.html#introduction

[2] The Google search was for “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in May 2014.

[3] The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were available in May 2014 at http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/przion1.htm.