Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Northwestern U. Won't Censor Professor's Holocaust Denial

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Northwestern U. Won't Censor Professor's Holocaust Denial

Article excerpt

EXILED TO a dusty office in an obscure corner of Northwestern University's Engineering School, Professor Arthur Butz has been an academic pariah for two decades for declaring that the Holocaust did not happen.

Now he has found a forum - Northwestern's site on the World Wide Web - to reach millions of people with theories that historians find absurd.

With a few keystrokes, computer users can find Butz's argument that the Nazi genocide of more than 6 million Jews is "a widespread but erroneous belief" and that typhus and other factors were responsible for the deaths. Northwestern, while repudiating Butz's beliefs, will not interfere with his right to express them on the Internet through the university. "I believe his views are monstrous," said university President Henry Bienen. "But I don't want to set myself up as a censor of his views. Who decides what's distasteful? Do you make general law around bad cases?" Butz's posting has infuriated any number of groups, who argue that Northwestern has no reason to give the tenured professor what amounts to a free billboard. But the issue has also been muddied by the university's decision not to rehire another teacher who was so outraged by Butz's views that he taught a lesson on the Holocaust in an engineering class. The teacher, Sheldon Epstein, was told last fall that his contract would not be renewed, at least in part because he strayed from the course material in assigning students to research and write about the Holocaust. "I read his Web page and said this stuff doesn't belong on Northwestern's site," said Epstein, who polled his students and found that many knew little or nothing about the Holocaust. "I owed it to my students." Butz was trained in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota. His area of expertise includes arcane fields such as digital signal processing. …

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