On September 12, the French online magazine, rue 89, published an open letter by Noam Chomsky in support of a petition to release the French engineer Vincent Reynouard who is currently in prison for denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
In 1979, Chomsky defended the French literary academic Robert Faurrison against the same charges, using the same argument: Holocaust deniers also have the right to freedom of opinion. Whereas the U.S. has no law against Holocaust denial, the French loi Gayssot, which has been in place since 1990, punishes not only genocide denial but also racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic talk.
Chomsky writes: “I have been informed that Vincent Reynouard has been charged and imprisoned for violation of the loi Gayssot and that a petition for his release is in circulation. I know nothing about Monsieur Reynouard but I regard this law as an absolutely illegitimate infringement of the principle of a free society, as it is been understood since the Enlightenment. As a consequence of this law, the state has been granted the right to determine historical truth and to punish anyone who opposes its edicts. This is a principle that smacks of the sinister days of Stalinism and Nazism.”