Should Mein Kampf be banned?

Mein Kampf is a book in which Adolf Hitler, a German dictator who helped drive killing of millions of people in an aggressive war he started and who has driven systematic industrial killing of an ethnic and a religious group, the Jews, reveals his odious views. Should the book be banned?

There are broader and related questions: Should government censor books? Should government censor the Internet? By making the question more specific and focusing on a particular instance, perhaps some salient differences between Mein Kampf and other kinds of potentially harmful content can be drawn.

Mein Kampf should be banned edit

Pro edit

  •   Argument for Odious views recommending objectionable courses of action and untrue prejudicial views about ethnic groups should not be allowed to spread. Freedom must sometimes be restricted to prevent harm, and this is one of the cases. For example, limiting driving speed gives up some freedom to gain harm prevention.
    •   Objection If odious views cannot be spread, they cannot be properly discussed either. In order to argue against a position, academically or otherwise, one must be able to accurately represent it, which contributes to its spread. In order to investigate the merits of a position in an impassioned matter, one must run the risk of discovering sly arguments in favor of the position. Consider the case of moral nihilism: from the point of view of many a moral realist, it is a repugnant philosophy, but repugnance is not sufficient to ban presentations of it. Consider a textbook stating that Hitler taught Aryans are a superior race, contributing to the spread of the idea. Consider whether we should ban Machiavelli's The Prince for its support of immoral action.
      •   Objection There is perhaps a contrast to be made between spreading a complete philosophy or ideology with all its detail and presenting its key features.
        •   Objection Perhaps not. A philosopher seriously discussing merits of moral nihilism may continue not only to spread of the idea but also to its acceptance, by showing the arguments for and against.
          •   Objection Did books discussing moral nihilism actually contribute to tangible harm?
      •   Objection The Prince did not contribute to industrial mass murder of Jews, did it?
        •   Objection Do we know it positively? Could Hitler have read The Prince and become convinced that immoral action is a necessity for a great statesman?

Con edit

  •   Argument against Banning books is generally far more dangerous than books themselves. It is restriction on free speech that enabled Hitler, not free speech. Repressive governments are very afraid of free speech, and they know why.
  •   Argument against It was Nazis who were burning books.
    •   Objection Not everything Nazis did must have been bad. Each action should be considered on its own merit.
      •   Objection True. Still, it is at least suggestive even if not conclusive.
  •   Argument against What is the principle? Ban books containing odious ideas? We would need to start with the Old Testament, in which course of action is sometimes recommended as mandated by God that we today find absolutely unacceptable. A book describing the life of the prophet of Islam in which the prophet violates the human rights of others by spreading his religion by force would need to be banned as well. And the harm to be caused by religious books is not a mere hypothetical: there are enough believers who take what is written in these books seriously, which has many times led to violence. Their being the minority of the believers does not change the harm, nor does it change the fact that these books contain acceptance and recommendation of violence. One would perhaps need to ban New Testament as well since its report of the son of God being executed by Jews has lead to antisemitic interpretations, causing harm.
  •   Argument against This would place great restriction on political freedom. One would perhaps be required to ban books that are part of Marxism and Leninism for the harm they contributed to; let us recall Stalin's mass crimes. The spirit of open debate in a democracy would be severely hampered.

External links edit