Circulating Ethnically Defamatory Lies

Circulating ethnically defamatory lies, to create hostility against an ethnic group, can be prohibited without much inhibiting free speech.

One example will suffice to illustrate this point in detail.  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was described by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as a “fraudulent document that served as a pretext and rationale for anti-Semitism mainly in the early 20th century”.

It has repeatedly been proved to be a hoax.  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.

Most of the sources retrieved in an Internet search for it make the material available, but add a precautionary note about its fraudulent nature to avoid misleading innocent consumers.  This was not the case on an anti-Semitic website hosted in Austria, Bible Believers, which asserted in 2016 that:

“All copies that were known to exist in Russia were destroyed in the Kerensky regime, and under his successors the possession of a copy by anyone in Soviet land was a crime sufficient to ensure the owner’s of being shot on sight. The fact is in itself sufficient proof of the genuineness of the Protocols.

That website has since been taken down.  From a governance perspective it could be argued that circulating ethnically defamatory lies should 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.  There can be problems in proving the intent to defame, though, as acknowledged previously (



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/5462a.htm.