Forced Life and its Discontents: An Interview with Sister Y

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of Hoover Hog interviews.




There are limits.  If you want to stockpile AK-47s or burn Old Glory or fuck for cash or snuff your fetus, your appeal will be met with rehearsed huzzahs from the wings. A constituency is waiting.  The polemics are signed and delivered, neatly punctuated with practiced elocution. Live and let live, young rebel. This is your heritage. Our ethos. Nobody's business if you do.

But how quickly those huzzahs fade when the subject turns to suicide. The confident rights rhetoric, so loudly trumpeted at every familiar turn, is traded for a different set of chords. The responsive default becomes concern. Becomes discomfiture. Becomes bristling incredulity.  You peer into the maw of nonexistence, only to be assured, emphatically and from all sides, that what you are contemplating is wrong. Your death wish is an expression of acute turmoil; it is the illness wanting, not you.  Applied to your pathologically confused desire, pop-libertarian slogans always read as perverse. There is no vocal constituency for suicide rights. There is no audible discourse over "choice" in this peculiar context. There is only removed compassion and anger, and a hotline. 

Because everyone knows. Suicide is a cry for help. Suicide is an
act of cowardice. Or hostility. Or strange mettle. Suicide is the easy
way out. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide is not
chosen; it is the failure of choice. Cosmically irrational. Properly
understood, suicide is foremost a public health issue. You have your whole life ahead
of you. You can
get through this. Think of how your friends and family will feel and
tomorrow is another day and there are coping strategies and there are
people who've been there who can help and you are suffering from a
mental illness and there are treatment options and there is medicine
and there
is always hope. You're not thinking clearly.
This isn't you. It simply can't be. Do you have a plan?

Even in academic circles, the study of suicide is aswarm with muddled premise-rigged thinking. Dubious statistics and theories are regurgitated with credulous deference. Emboldened by a deeply entrenched public health paradigm, scholars bow to the the coolly disinterested vantage of epidemiology to promote measures meant to thwart the scourge of self-destruction. This is for the good, they insist. Just look at the graphs.

When a choice is predefined as sick, it always circles back like this. And if you disagree, help is on the way.

Of course, there is another point of view. A heterodox suicidology, relegated to the fringe. This is the view under which the reasons of the would-be suicide can be considered in good faith. This is the view that sees suicidal ideation not as the symptom of some lazily presumed brainsick malaise, but as a rationally founded confirmation that the burden of existence is, at least for some, intolerable. This is the view that turns conventional assumptions on their head, by asking not whether self destruction is morally wrong, but whether a ubiquitous culture of "forced life" has blinded us to a far greater harm.

As Sister Y would have it, this is The View from Hell.

The moral issue of suicide has usually been stated in terms of whether suicide is morally permissible, under any circumstances. . . . This formulation assumes a major premise: that it is the suicidal
person who must justify his refusal to live, rather than the community
being required to justify the action of forcing him to live. These
notes will focus on the moral reprehensibility of forced life, rather
than attempt to justify suicide from a defensive perspective.

Known to her readers as "Curator" (possibly a nod to the Miller Williams poem),  Sister Y stands virtually alone, asking questions that are disallowed by the prevailing life-biased consensus. When she isn't working through the vicissitudes of  "Forced Life and its Ethical Alternatives," she enjoys hiking, M. Night Shyamalan movies, square-dancing, and Vietnamese cuisine. She is a triathlete in training. And yes, Sister Y wants to die.  

You can take or leave it if you please.



HOOVER HOG: You  describe yourself as a "currently non-practicing" suicide. What does this mean?

SISTER Y: I am very much in favor of my own death, and I've actively pursued
death in the past, but I'm not actively pursuing death right now. I
think "suicide" connotes someone who either has killed herself, or is
actively trying to kill herself. A "non-practicing suicide" would be
someone with the mental status of a suicide (a stable, long-standing
desire for death that is not the product of a delusion) but not
currently taking action to achieve death. I'm not acting on it because
(a) I find the methods currently available to me to be unacceptable,
and (b) I am still working through the morality of suicide in general
and in my case in particular, especially regarding my family and social

I've found that many people — usually those who have never
seriously contemplated suicide — scoff at the notion that self
destruction might be especially difficult, either for psychological or
practical reasons. Has this been your experience? And how do you

I don't think I recognized the difficulty of suicide until I made a
serious attempt. Just because someone is rationally set on suicide does
not mean that one's hard-wired self-preservation instincts disappear.
Most methods of suicide that are fairly reliable call for the suicide
to do something extremely unnatural and difficult (shoot oneself in the
head, cut an artery). Other methods have a high likelihood of failure,
and many are also likely to result in sequelae. The only comfortable,
reliable method of committing suicide is to take an overdose of
barbiturates, which are now extremely controlled and almost impossible
to acquire, even on the black market. Almost no other drug will
reliably produce death, and certainly not without substantial pain. I
graduated from one of the top engineering schools in the country, and
spent nearly two years researching suicide methods, and came up pretty
much empty-handed. I encourage anyone who thinks suicide is easy to
spend some time on the various pro-choice suicide boards on the
Internet. These people are desperate to die, but come up against
problems with the available methods. It's even worse in countries
outside the United States, where guns are restricted or illegal, but
even in the United States, those with previous mental hospitalizations
may not buy or own guns, limiting the method's utility.

In most western cultures, individual choice is highly valued. People
have come to be relatively tolerant of conduct that they may view as
being morally wrong or even harmful, provided that the harm is
self-inflicted and contained. But those who advocate greater personal
freedom to use drugs or engage in risky sexual activity seem less
enthusiastic when the topic turns to suicide. There may be some
allowance for end-of-life scenarios, but a more general "right to
suicide" has never emerged as a mainstream libertarian issue. What do
you think accounts for this difference in attitude?

There are so many reasons for this. A major one is the pathologization
of suicide. An important piece of received knowledge in our culture is
that suicide is, by definition, always the product of mental illness, a
premise that is more axiomatic than it is supported by real data. The
more people are aware of the variety of human experience, the more even
compassionate people tend to favor the right of consenting adults to do
whatever they please, so long as they do not harm others. But this
logic doesn't tend to include suicide, because to the degree that
suicide is seen as somehow the product of mental illness, it's not seen
as a free choice, and therefore it's not seen as compassionate to
support a right to suicide. (The attempt to medicalize, and
pathologize, various actions- from alcoholism to drug addiction to "sex
addiction" – might be, among other things, an attempt to subvert our
societal tolerance of individual choice in each of these areas by
making them appear to be less than free choices.)

Another problem is that suicide does, of course, emotionally harm
people other than the suicide, to the extent that the suicide has
family or friends. I think people get confused when evaluating the pain
caused by a suicide. They tend to compare it to murder – where a person
takes the life of another – rather than to truly analogous situations,
such as ending a relationship or quitting a job. Suicides are not seen
as having the right to inflict emotional harm on others, even though we don't generally posit
a right to other people's company or association, and this is exactly
the type of harm that a suicide inflicts (denying others his company).

People have strong emotional reactions to the idea of suicide
which, I think, prevent them from analyzing the morality of suicide in
a fair way. The above reasons partially explain this. But there is
another reason: people have so much invested in life being generally
good, and the idea of rational suicide threatens that belief. If
someone can rationally choose to stop living, especially when he or she
isn't facing impending intolerable pain and loss of bodily and mental
function, that must mean it's not an undeniable fact that life is, on balance, good. Jim Crawford of calls this "souring the milk of foundational meaning that everybody's sucking down."

But doesn't research show that the majority of
people who attempt suicide and fail will never make a second attempt?
And don't failed suicides frequently come to express profound regret
over their prior actions? Why shouldn't such observations lend
support to the view that suicidal thinking is the product of a deeper
mental pathology that should be treated therapeutically rather than

There are studies that show that few people who attempt suicide go on
to kill themselves within a short period of time afterward. I'm aware
of one study, though, that found that between 13% and 19% of people who
attempt suicide by self-poisoning go on to successfully kill themselves
during their lifetimes – and that the rate of suicide doesn't decrease
with time after the original attempt. A suicide attempt remains the
single best predictor of future death by suicide (though I've been
seeing the statistic tossed around recently that bipolar disorder comes
close, with 10-15% of people with the diagnosis ending up as suicides).

Still, that leaves us with 75% or so of suicide attempters
"deciding" to stay alive. Indeed, many express regret and say they are
glad to be saved from their suicide attempts. But, given the suicide
in our society and the general hostility toward suicide, I
don't think it's fair to say that this means that most people who
attempt suicide don't really want to die. Many people simply cannot
manage suicide for practical reasons. Others may be reabsorbed into the
anti-suicide position of mainstream society.

An analogy might be to members of an authoritarian religion in a
country dominated by that religion. It might be true that few leave the
religion, and many eventually "come back into the fold" if they do try
to leave, but it's not fair to use that as evidence that leaving the
religion is pathological and the product of a diseased mind.

But hasn't it been established that over
90% of suicides have a pre-existing mental illness? And if this is true,
doesn't it complicate the notion that most suicidal individuals can
rationally desire death?

The statistic that 90% of suicides have a mental illness is often
tossed around. Check the sources, though, and it becomes very

The source for the statistic cited on the National Institutes of Mental Health website, for instance, is a completely uncontrolled study
using the questionable "psychiatric autopsy" technique. Let me
emphasize again: it's a study with no control group. It's a myth, but
it's cited as if it were scripture. There have been some attempts at
controlled studies demonstrating this, again using that "psychiatric
autopsy" business. One of the larger controlled studies indeed seemed
to demonstrate the accepted 90% statistic – but that study also found
that 37% of its control group had a mental illness! Are we willing to
believe that 37% of people walking around are so mentally ill as to
justify interfering with their actions?

The other problem I have with this statistic is what is held to
constitute a mental illness. The DSM-IV criteria for depression (Major
Depressive Disorder), in particular, are so vague as to be nearly
meaningless. By its definition, almost anyone could be diagnosed with
depression at any time. The idea of suicide being a product of a mental
illness is more definitional than descriptive. (Interestingly, the
study about the Chinese women found that very few of
them had any mental illness.)

Though the 90% statistic is, in my analysis, a myth, it is true
that many suicidal people have a mental illness (bipolar disorder is
particularly likely to lead to suicide). But it's still a leap to
suggest that people with a mental illness should not have the right to
commit suicide. A mentally ill person may still make a will or sign a
contract or be held liable for a crime, for instance, so long as he was
capable of understanding his actions at the time. Mentally ill people
are still, in many cases, capable of forming rational desires. It seems
presumptuous to say that, as long as you're mentally ill, you couldn't
possibly rationally desire to kill yourself – although you might
rationally desire other things. In fact, the unrelenting suffering
ensured by many mental illnesses makes suicide, if anything, more rational for some people with mental illness than for those without mental illness.

People want to protect others. People are compassionate. But I
think there is an important failure of compassion when it comes to
suicides: people want to "protect" others from death, not from
suffering, even when suffering is preferable to death. I do not think
it is compassionate at all to substitute one's own judgment for that of
the person enduring the suffering.

You make reference to Jim Crawford's antinatalism site.  You would describe yourself as an antinatalist, correct?


Do your views on the ethics of suicide entail philosophical
opposition to having children? The fact that you characterize the
central problem as one of "forced life" seems to suggest a connection.

There is a connection, but I don't think that the one entails the other
(suicide rights –> antinatalism – antinatalism may entail a right
to suicide, though). I think it is wrong to force people to stay alive,
and I think that bringing people into existence is a similar, though
not identical, wrong. But there are many people who, I think logically and
coherently, support a right to suicide but do not subscribe to antinatalism. In the general population, support for a moral (and
legal) right to suicide seems rare, but it is the norm among
professional philosophers. However, antinatalism is still a position
held by few.

Suicides are the ones in the best position to understand that they
have been wronged by being brought into existence. Of course,
antinatalism has very little to do with suicide, and Benatar's
antinatalism implies that everyone is wronged by being brought into
existence, suicide or not. I worry that my intertwined support for both
suicide rights and antinatalism will increase the confusion between the
two, which seems rampant among non-philosophers.

You've devoted a fair portion of your project to exploring
antinatalist ethics and have specifically defended philanthropic
antinatalism against attacks, yet you express
misgivings about the the pain/pleasure asymmetry emphasized by
David Benatar in his book,
Better Never to Have Been. What do
you see as being the central weakness of Benatar's core argument? Is
there a better approach?

I don't think the argument is weak, but it is built on intuition, as is
almost all interesting philosophy. This gives people the option of
claiming not to share the intuition underlying Benatar's claim when
they come up against its uncomfortable consequences. I think this move
is usually dishonest – people claim not to see the asymmetry, but they
really do. But it's possible for people to either genuinely not share
the intuitions underlying the asymmetry, or to have such a radically
different conception of value that the asymmetry (and the interests of
those brought into existence) is not dispositive of the question of the
morality of procreation. Some people think it's so important that
humanity go on that any amount of suffering is acceptable. I'm not sure
there can be much of a response to this position. But this kind of honest objection
to antinatalism is rare; I've much more often encountered dishonest and
somewhat muddle-headed objections. But the idea is new in philosophy
time; serious philosophical challenges have yet to appear, and I await
them with interest.

Early on in your web project, The View from Hell, you observe that
ethicists tend to treat suicide as an option that demands careful moral
justification. You question the foundation of this default view by
asking why the burden should not rest on others to justify laws and
customs aimed at preventing suicide. Why do you think that scholars so
often approach the morality of suicide in these terms while seldom
considering the morality of "forced life," as you put it?

I don't know why this should be. I haven't come up with any
explanations for this that I find compelling. Perhaps it's the
psychological salience of the act of suicide, or the ubiquity and
ancientness of the prohibition, although philosophy is usually able to
get behind such things. To some degree, I wonder if the lack of
self-advocacy by suicides allows people to assume that the suicide
prohibition does no particular harm. This is part of the justification
for my project.

You emphasize that you are not "pro-suicide" and have argued that suicide is immoral in cases where would-be self-destroyers voluntarily
have children, thereby incurring positive obligations toward
those they bring — or force – to life. Having made this exception
to a general moral right to suicide (I don't gather that you are
arguing that voluntary procreation should nullify a
legal right
to suicide, but feel free to address this), you open the door to the
possibility that other voluntarily assumed trusts and obligations may
also be weighted against a presumptive right to suicide. In this
context, you specifically mention the formation of close
relationships, tentatively suggesting that suicidal individuals may be
morally compelled to avoid or terminate interpersonal bonds. 

But most lives are filled with voluntarily assumed obligations and
relationships, from the trivial to the profound.  Assuming that an
unpaid sewer bill is assigned less countermanding weight on a
continuum where a marriage or close friendship may be injunctive, how
do you address the seemingly inevitable clash between positive
obligations and suicide rights? 

I think that one of the factors that weighs in favor of a right to
suicide is the lack of having taken any action to come into being. But
it's not the only moral consideration. Voluntary action is not all – I
am in favor of a moral right to bankruptcy and abortion on demand, both
cases where the consequences of voluntary action are so harsh as to
require an "out."

Many voluntarily assumed obligations, from friendships to
contracts, are relatively minor compared to the pain of existence for a
suicidal person. Procreation is one case that seems to weigh heavily in
the other direction – voluntarily creating a new person seems
qualitatively different from making friends with someone. Children seem
to have a claim on their parents that other relationships do not
entail. It seems fine for a person to sell all his possessions and move
to Vietnam, "abandoning" his friends and even siblings and parents, but
it does not seem fine to do so if it entails "abandoning" his children.

I am circumspect about other obligations trumping a right to
suicide. One distinction I have been examining is that between
exclusive and non-exclusive relationships. By becoming friends with a
person, one does not limit their capacity to make other friends (though
one does hurt them by committing suicide). But by having a child, or
entering an exclusive romantic relationship with someone, one limits
the partner's capacity to acquire a substitute and "hedge" against
one's suicide. A similar principle operates when we impose liability on
a rescuer for doing a crappy job rescuing someone, because by
undertaking a rescue, the person deprived the endangered person of the
possibility of being rescued by a competent person.

As you imply, I don't think any of this should affect a legal right
to suicide. Mostly, I think, by procreating, one gives up one's moral
right to suicide.

Can you explain your concept of "mismatch and meaning," particularly as it might relate to the problem of forced life?

I have tried to make a list of some of what I conceive to be serious
limitations on human happiness. One of these is the idea of the absurd
as conceived by Camus – that, while there is no objective meaning to
life, humans naturally desire for life to be meaningful. One of the possible results of accepting that life is not inherently
meaningful, but that one will always desire for it to be so, is a
rational wish to end one's life. I have focused on the limitations on
happiness in order to show that "rational suicide" is not such a crazy

My understanding is that women attempt suicide about twice as often as men,
yet something like 75% of suicides in the U.S. are actually committed by
men because they employ more lethal methods — primarily firearms. This
disparity is often interpreted to mean that for many women,  attempted
suicide may be more of a desperate means of communication — the
cliched "cry for help" — than a sincerely intended act of self
destruction, while male suicides mean business. You have questioned
this interpretation. Why?

Lack of suicidal intent on the part of females is the usual explanation
for the disparity in success rates for women versus men. It's
unquestioningly, universally accepted. But I've almost never seen any
actual evidence for this claim.

One piece of evidence the "cry for help" explanation does not
explain is that female physicians commit suicide much more frequently
than females in the general population, that is, at approximately the same
rate as men. (The suicide rate for male physicians is elevated above
men in the general population, but not nearly as dramatically as that
of females.) Those who have investigated this phenomenon (which is
mirrored in the veterinary and chemistry professions, though not in,
say, finance) chalk it up to the hardship of gender discrimination
affecting female doctors. There's no evidence for this, though, and to
me, the obvious explanation is that female doctors, as opposed to
general population females, have access to acceptable and lethal means of suicide, and hence kill themselves more often.

Most male suicides are gun suicides. Many more men than women own,
and are familiar with the operation of, guns. In every measure of
violence, men far outperform women. Both in a practical and in a
psychological sense, gunshot is not a method that is available to
women, while self-poisoning is. Their failure to successfully commit
suicide is a function of the lack of lethal drugs in the United States,
as demonstrated by the high suicide rates of female physicians and of
females in countries where lethal pesticides are commonly available,
such as China (a February 2008 study in Current Psychiatry Reports revealed that female suicides actually outnumber male suicides in China by a 3:1 ratio).

It is access to lethal means that are psychologically acceptable,
and not lethal intent, that separates women from men in terms of
suicide success, in my analysis. However, the idea that the success
disparity demonstrates that women want to be "rescued" from suicide
attempts is often used to justify coercive suicide prevention tactics.

You also challenge the prevailing view of suicide contagion, the
so-called "Werther Effect" (referring to the spike in suicides said to
have followed the publication of Goethe's
The Sorrows of Young Werther).
In the first instance, you argue that the purported relationship
between highly publicized suicides and imitative events may result from
a kind of selective pattern recognition or apophenia. But perhaps more
intriguingly, you are critical of  the public health assumption that
impulsive suicides justify preventive or interventionist policies since
they constitute a departure from some theoretical (and arguably
acceptable) baseline. Your view seems to be that this view is biased by
the failure of experts to apprehend the nature and trajectory of
suicidal thinking, which may, at least for some people, necessitate a
trigger event. Can you describe your current thinking on the empirical
basis for suicide contagion and on the conceptual issues that may bias
researchers to read  impulsive or "excess" suicides as special grounds
for preventive public policy?

I start from the position that preventing suicide for its own sake is
not a valid policy goal. In other words, suicide is not, in and of
itself, wrong or bad. Suffering so serious that it leads to suicide is
bad, and policies to remedy that suffering are well justified, but
policies designed to staunch the suicide rate, but do nothing about the
suffering behind it, are merely cruel.

Preventing a suicide may be either good or bad, depending on the
individual situation. It is not automatically good. Preventing a
suicide is bad when it amounts to trapping a miserable, but rational,
person with a long-standing, clear wish to die in a miserable, unwanted
existence. Existing barriers to suicide, such as the drug prohibition and
the pervasive anti-suicide message ubiquitous in our culture, function
to prevent such suicides all the time. It is not good that they do so.

What might be considered an "impulsive" suicide by an outside
observer – a suicide triggered by a crisis, for instance – could very
well be the suicide of a person trapped into a miserable existence by
the unfair, immoral coercive anti-suicide practices of our society. A
person who clearly, unambiguously wishes to die may not be willing to
shoot himself in the head under normal circumstances, but in the middle
of a crisis, he may become willing to do so. This may appear to be an
impulsive suicide, but is really a genuinely desired suicide that was
unfairly prevented by arbitrary barriers.

In The View From Hell, you frequently wrestle with the
ideas of such thinkers as David Benatar, J. David Vellemen, John
Robert Nozick, Thomas Nagel, and Seana Shiffrin — thinkers who
tend to address moral problems in the language of what might broadly
be considered contemporary normative ethics. Readers enticed to your
site as a philosophical forum on suicide may be surprised by the
paucity of flirtation with Continental-branded celebrity philosophers
more commonly associated with the subject. I'm thinking of guys like
Kierkegaard, Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Batailles, Schopenhauer,
Amery, etc. (Even your obligatory discussion of Camus is appended with
a note in which you begrudge his vaguely mystical free-floating style
and approach.) Why has your focus centered around these more analytical
currents in philosophy? I mean, if you're a suicide, doesn't that mean
that you wear black, listen to Godspeed You Black Emperor and carry
around a dogeared copy of Being and Nothingness?

I find continental philosophy aesthetically irritating, but honestly I
don't know enough about it to trash it. Heidegger has his moments, but
I see the continentals as involved in a different project from the one
I'm interested in. I'm not doing deep epistemology. The
American/English-diaspora analytic style seems more suited to applied
ethics. And the continental stuff seems weirdly groundless. Camus, for
throughout all of Sisyphus, doesn't seem to be making a single
recognizable argument.

for myself, I wear pale blue and ride a bright red bicycle and listen
to Erykah Badu. I would never make fun of the goth kids, though.
They're fine by me.

In your discussion of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act (which allows
terminally ill patients under approved circumstances to be prescribed
— but not administered — a lethal dose of barbiturates), you argue
that this amounts to merely a narrow liberalization of existing drug
prohibition and cannot seriously be viewed as a form of "assisted"
suicide. But in the Netherlands the law permits more clear-cut  forms
of assisted suicide and even allows euthanasia at the discretion of
physicians. The Dutch law has been criticized by the suicide rights
advocate, Thomas Szasz, who contends that by entrusting too much power
in doctors, the law circumvents individual autonomy and leads to abuse.
Szasz argues that suicide rights are best ensured by lifting current
suicide laws and through a wholesale repeal of existing drug laws. Do
you think there is a danger that suicide rights advocacy could give way
to more paternalistic "pro-death" policies that may prove harmful? And
what specific policy reforms would you propose to redress the problem
of forced life?

The Oregon law is a step in the right direction. My main criticism of
that law is that it limits access to comfortable suicide to those
judged to have terminal illnesses. I don't see a good reason for this

But another problem with the Oregon law is that it limits physician
assistance to offering a prescription, not helping to administer the
drug (e.g. intravenously). This does no good to a person who rationally
wishes to die but whose physical functioning is limited. I cannot see
what difference it makes how the means of death is administered, so
long as it is at the request of the person who wishes to die, and the
wish to die is long-standing, clear, and not the product of a delusion
or of coercion by others.

The main problem others claim to have with the Dutch or the Swiss
situation is the possibility that lethal drugs will be administered
without the full consent of the person who is to die. But cutting off
access to lethal drugs is not the answer to this problem. Cutting off all access
to lethal drugs ensures that many people are forced to remain alive
against their will, which is a horror that few are willing to address.
Why is it ethical to remove the freedom of those who wish to die, to
prevent a theoretical risk to those who might not wish to? The harm of
being forced to remain alive is real. Most advocates of forced life
treat the harm of being forced to remain alive as a non-issue. But
wouldn't it be more rational to have safeguards in place such as Oregon
has? Oregon has strict requirements for mental competence and
witnessing to ensure that the decision to die is not the product of
coercion. The purported fear of people being put to death against their
will has not materialized there.

If we're concerned about coercion and consent, we can prevent that without prohibiting comfortable, reliable suicide altogether.

are many reforms that would allow society to stop forcing people to
remain alive while still respecting life. One is the ability to legally
opt-out of being forcibly "rescued" from a suicide attempt, perhaps
after demonstrating one's sound mind and a clear, long-standing wish to
die that is not the product of a delusion. Another is to allow doctors
to write a prescription for a lethal dose of barbiturates to anyone
under the same condition. (Recognizing a diagnosis like "unwanted
life," similar to "unwanted fertility," could provide a medical model.)

You often refer to your online writing as a "project," but projects
tend to have a conclusion. Do you foresee a point when The View From
Hell is complete? A synthesis?

I suppose you're right about projects usually having conclusions. I
can't say that my projects usually do, though. This interview is
forcing me to do a bit of synthesis. But I suppose the goal is to have
all the arguments written down in one place, where all the moving parts
can link together.

This may be a dangerous area, but suppose someone is reading this who
is considering suicide. Let's say this person is rational, has resolved
the ethical problems to his or her own satisfaction, and remains
determined. Do you have any moral or practical advice to impart to such
a person?

It is legally dangerous, because in most states "assisting" a suicide
is a crime, which could, theoretically, include advice about methods.
(A Vail, Colorado, man was recently charged with manslaughter for giving his friend a shotgun after they had spoken of suicide.)

But I am not in a legal bind at all, because I don't have any
practical advice about suicide. Suicide remains extremely difficult and
risky as a practical matter. There is no easy, comfortable, sure, and
widely accessible method available – no Peaceful Pill. I argue that
this is a moral horror.

As for moral advice – I think people need to make the decision free
from pre-packaged, demeaning judgments like "cowardly," "selfish,"
"stupid," and "crazy." I think the decision to commit suicide or to
remain alive requires a wide, balanced, and nuanced approach. That is
currently not happening in our society – only various flavors of
anti-suicide messages are tolerated. Like anti-drug messages, these
become unreliable to those considering suicide. I think a balanced
approach, respecting a right to suicide and realizing that suicide may
sometimes be morally acceptable, is more likely to help people
understand what their true moral duties and desires are, and to act
maturely on this reflection.

Thank you for your time.

Interview with a Holocaust Denier

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of Hoover Hog interviews.




In Lucifer's Lexicon, L.A. Rollins defines a "Holocaust revisionist"as "one who denies that he is a denier."  I'm sure "Mike Smith" — aka "Denier," aka "Bud" — would concur. As the elusive videographer behind the most provocative  underground documentaries to emerge on the web in recent years, Denier (as we'll agree  to call him), has little patience for cloudy euphemisms. He just calls it as he sees it. And in his taboo-flouting web trilogy — consisting of  OneThird of the Holocaust, Nazi Shrunken Heads, and most recently, Buchenwald: A Dumb Dumb Portrayal of Evil — he calls it a lie.

As Denier's unexpected John Malkovich monotone narrates over volumes of intriguing exhibits in steadily focused fact-stacking explication of his heretical thesis, intrepid viewers may find themselves clamoring for a careful refutation. Surely The Skeptics Society or the gang at Popular Mechanics can be relied on to provide a point-by-point reality check, as our entrusted skeptics did when the 9-11 Truth Squad went viral with their pyrotechnic fantasies — no?

Well, no. At least not to date. Oh, you'll find some snarkily pitched counter-arguments percolating amid the obligatory ad hominem attacks over at Holocaust Controversies, but the guardians of historical orthodoxy have been largely content to ignore Denier and his quirky little home movies. The fact that most of his videos have been banned from YouTube and Google Video just makes it easier. The fact that his ads — ads soliciting rebuttals — were turned down by the UC Berkeley student newspaper. Just makes it easier. Free speech is easy when it's chained to the margins. That's the American way. 

But you already know the drill. When someone voices doubt about what all good people recognize as the greatest moral catastrophe of the past century, the refrains of suspicion are tightly scripted. Denier is to be cast as an anti-Semite who probably harbors some perverse nostalgia for Hitler's sadly misunderstood regime. Never mind that he regards Der Führer as a stunted power-mad militaristic thug, and says as much, repeatedly, in his movies. Never mind all those anti-war palliatives layered throughout his project — the calls for "good vibes" and good will and harmony among people everywhere. You can shuck off the pacifist shtick as a long-rehearsed denialist ruse. Because you know better. Don't you?

And if you get stuck on the curious fact that the Bad Man is also an avowed atheist who equally denies the historical existence of Jesus Christ, well, just take a deep breath. Tell yourself such kinks in the profile are but clever face-saving PR distractions. Like those embedded nods to Philip K. Dick and Chomsky. Like the AdBusters-branded riffs on corporate capitalism. You see how it adds up to insidious hipster-baiting mind poison? You see through all of it. Don't you, and very good. The man is seduced by Kevin MacDonald, after all. And we are assured that Kevin MacDonald is wrong about all of it. Dangerously wrong. Because Steven Pinker said so.

"Discredited," as they say. Just keep saying it. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble that way. Soon, you'll be safely back on track.

But for the time being, if you're feeling adventurous, why not take a peek at what the YouTube brass doesn't want you to see? Why not lend a cautious ear to a man who has come to deny what you have always believed with such peculiar certainty? There's really no danger that you'll learn anything new, is there? If nothing else, it should make for easy sport. Perhaps you can set the record straight, just for fun. Michael Shermer may thank you. Should be good for a laugh, or a sigh. There's no good reason to trust anyone.




THE HOOVER HOG: People who express doubts about various aspects of the standard history
of the Holocaust usually refer to themselves as "revisionists" and
consider the term "Holocaust denier" to be a smear. But you have
embraced the "D" word, stating that you believe the Holocaust to be a
"giant myth." Why have you adopted this arguably confrontational
approach? And perhaps more importantly, what specifically do you mean
when you state that you "deny" the Holocaust?

DENIER: I like the term "denier." The term "revisionist" comes off as a bad
euphemism. It is deniers trying to express the sentiment that they
believe Jews suffered during WWII but just weren't systematically
exterminated. But to the public, it comes off as a bad euphemism. The
movie Mr. Death had multiple euphemistic levels, because Fred
Leuchter made execution equipment and euphemistically described what he
did, and he was also a revisionist!

For me, the term "denier" has parallels to gay people taking the word
"queer" for their own self-definition. Turning a derogatory term around
for their own power.

I'm sure some people will be amused (or confused) by the idea of applying identity politics to Holocaust denial. But just to clarify, your view is that systematic extermination is the
defining element of what has come to be known as the Holocaust?


Are you saying that without genocidal intent, the events that took place no longer
signify anything that might be considered historically unique, or
uniquely atrocious?

I don't mean that, but at the same time I'm drawing a blank on how to
clarify. The Nazis tried to kick the Jews out of Europe. They put them
in labor camps.

What do you make of the "functionalist" view, notably of Christopher
Browning who deemphasizes the role of gas chambers and argues that the
Holocaust was largely carried out by German police reserve units who
massacred deportees in the course of carrying out orders. Do such
claims fall under the scrutiny of Holocaust denial as well? And do you
think the emergence of a functionalist/intentionalist dialectic is
(perhaps covertly) influenced by the arguments of Holocaust deniers or revisionists?

Nothing comes to mind on this one.

In your video documentary, One Third of the Holocaust, you focus on
Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec, collectively known as the Reinhard
death camps. And your latest documentary is devoted to Buchenwald. Why
did you choose to focus on these camps, rather than on Auschwitz, which
seems to be more synonymous with the Holocaust, at least in the public

I could have started on Auschwitz, but I saw a lot of focus already on
that camp. Plus I knew that if I chose Auschwitz, then people would
bring up Treblinka, and if I chose Treblinka, then people would bring
up Auschwitz. Which is what happened in the YouTube dialogs before my
videos were removed by YouTube staff.

Why were your videos removed from YouTube?

Because they remove holocaust denial content even though in their "Terms
of Service" and "Community Guidelines" they don't say they do.

At one point, episode 1 of "One Third" got removed, and I appealed, and
I won. So it got put back up, only to get removed 8 months later. I
appealed again and no one responded.

I put "One Third" up on Google video and it was removed also.

Jesus, I've seen uncensored GG Allin videos on YouTube. You must be a dangerous
man. Of course, it will be argued that YouTube and Google are private companies and can exercise
discretion over these things, even if we disagree about their
guidelines. But in other Western democracies, the situation for
Holocaust skeptics is more serious. Germar Rudolf is currently behind bars in
Germany, along with Ernst Zundel (who was previously imprisoned in
Canada for distributing pamphlets). Do you think such cases have been fairly reported by Western media? And do you foresee similar penalties ever
being imposed in the United States?

I don't think Germar Rudolf's imprisonment was even reported. He was
really trying to stay out of prison and the authorities in the USA
nabbed him and deported him to Germany. Just days later, David Irving
voluntarily goes to Austria and gets arrested, which I hate to say,
overshadowed any possibility of Rudolf's imprisonment becoming a media

I think it's outrageous these people are in prison, and
I frequently thought of Germar Rudolf while working on my videos.
Thinking to myself, "they're keeping Rudolf from doing any holocaust
denial art, but I'm free, and I'm making some."

When I was a kid, I remember being terrified by the TV miniseries,
Holocaust. Later, I read the usual assigned books by Elie Wiesel and
Anne Frank. I watched
Night and Fog. And I believed all of it, as I
suspect most people do. I didn't know there was such a thing as
Holocaust revisionism or Holocaust denial until I saw a TV Movie of
the Week on the subject (I think it starred Raquel Welch) in the late
80s. I remember thinking that there was something very odd about how
the subject was presented, and I became curious.

How did you come to doubt what everyone believes? Surely you weren't born a denier.

I saw that holocaust miniseries too. And it affected me.

I'm not exactly sure how I became a denier. Seeing a 1992 issue of TV
with the two words "Fake News" on the front cover and an article
on the "Babies Pulled off Life Support" hoax affected me. I never read
TV Guide, but there it was on the counter of the convenience store
mentioning how hoaxes are used to promote war. That affected me, and
yet I wouldn't become a denier until years later.

Seeing how the media in the Bay Area in the late 90's presented, in an
emotional way, a position to support the war against Yugoslavia affected me. I saw the propaganda element.

Seeing New York Times front page articles in the late 90's about Iraq
and that "no fly zone" and realizing that there was a force trying to
convince the masses to go to war and provoke the Iraqis, affected me.

Being in an academic setting and seeing some things reminiscent of what
Kevin MacDonald describes in Culture of Critique about his time as a
college grad student, effected me. Like MacDonald, I also saw a
discourse cultivating a supposed moral high ground and yet I was noticing
that there was something else really going on beneath that, that was
helping people advance.

These are defining aspects that come to mind, and yet I didn't become a denier till years after they happened.

But was there a particular book or article or event that caused you to question
received opinion regarding the Holocaust/genocide story? Or did it
simply follow from seeing these contemporary examples of war propaganda playing out?

9-11 sent me in the direction of holocaust denial. When 9-11 happened I
believed it was a response to unfair US foreign policy in the Mideast.
Particularly toward the Palestinians. And in those Bin Laden videos
released shortly after 9-11, Bin Laden said as much. Bin Laden
mentioned Jenin. So I thought "wow, the media is spinning this in a
totally different direction." The "they hate our freedom" direction.
All this put me on the path to holocaust denial.

Bradley Smith routinely refers to Nazi gas chambers as the original
WMDs. Did it surprise you that the US didn't fabricate evidence of
Iraqi WMDs in Iraq? Or is that sort of thing too hard to pull off in the
contemporary media environment?

It's a great question. If the holocaust is a fraud, then why couldn't
the US plant some WMD evidence in Iraq? I don't know the answer. But
maybe it's that Bush is not Eisenhower. And I mean that in a good way,
not in a bad way.

I suspect that your reference to Kevin MacDonald will be a show-stopper
for some readers. A major part of MacDonald's thesis in
The Culture of
is that ethno-genetic forces have influenced academic and
popular discourse in ways that tend to promote Jewish interests, often
to the detriment of other religious and ethnic group interests. This
point comes up a few times in your Buchenwald documentary and is humorously made in a segment of
Nazi Shrunken Heads. But
MacDonald's work has been harshly criticized by evolutionary
psychologists such as Steven Pinker (who we might as well note, is
Jewish) and by others who see his theory as an academically polished
and pseudoscientific expression of anti-Semitism. Do you think
MacDonald has gotten a bad rap?

I think MacDonald has gotten a bad rap. Culture of Critique is an amazing book. You read passages, and it's just so true.

Of course, all of this brings up the most common criticism of dissident
Holocaust history, which is that it is inherently anti-Semitic. How do
you respond to this charge? And should it matter?

Well. I advocate kindness toward all Jewish people. I'd be against
selective laws against Jews as much as the ACLU would be. Kevin
MacDonald talks about Jewish Group Evolutionary Strategy, but probably
every group has evolutionary strategies. The Germans fought the Romans
for such a long period of time, long ago: 2,000 years ago, and maybe
that gives them some inherent militarism. The holocaust myth as Jewish
group evolutionary strategy might even be a response to German

At the same time, part of me wants to get away from the idea that Jews
use the holocaust to their advantage. The Auschwitz part of the
holocaust myth, for instance is so wrapped up in paranoia over
delousing, that there's a case to be made that the entire Auschwitz
death story came out of paranoia of delousing.

Can you explain what you mean by this — about "paranoia of delousing"?

The entire holocaust myth is one giant mix up with delousing. I mention
in my recent Buchenwald movie where there's a line that says "a
tiny bacteria inside the poop of a louse, is key to understanding the
world's biggest lie." Because the typhus bacteria is in lice poop, and
that's how it's transferred to people. Eventually it kills both the
louse and the human.

Back to Kevin MacDonald. I think it's possible to realize he's right
and not be anti-semitic. Think of Alex Haley writing Roots in the
1970's. He probably took writing breaks to have a barbecue with his
white neighbors. I just made that scenario up, but maybe it happened.
It's the kind of thing we're talking about. Research in a scholarly
community, and good vibes within that regardless of what conclusions
your research comes up with.

Well, I've seen Independence Day, and I don't think I'm paranoid to
discern a "Jewish savior" subtext in re-runs of
Taxi. But damn if I'm
not cautious about who I say this stuff around. I'm all for good vibes
and civil debate, but there seems to be a uniquely prohibitive aura
around this issue (Kevin MacDonald being a mere footnote). My wife is
"sorta Jewish" and when I have dinner with the Jewish half of her
family, I am VERY careful to avoid certain controversial topics, and
when such topics come up, I tend to nod politely, or abscond from the
discussion. I chalk it up to decorum, but the truth is my heart
races. It feels like fear.

So I'm curious. What has your experience been in explaining your
controversial views to friends, colleagues and family who may harbor the ingrained
prejudices about Holocaust denial. Is it all good vibes? Or does it get
ugly? Or is this something you pursue privately — in the basement, as
they say?

This is an interesting question, but I can't respond to it.

Beyond the subject you've chosen, I have a hard time pinning down your
documentaries. On the one hand, they're structured as straightforward
investigative pieces. All these close-ups of passages from books and
articles juxtaposed against public access newsreel footage. Charts and
graphs and methodical dot-connecting. Yet I find your approach oddly
captivating, and at times disarmingly funny. As a documentarian, you
seem to have developed a unique style and sensibility. Do you see
yourself as working within a tradition as a "filmmaker"? And more
generally, how do you approach your work from a creative standpoint?

The phrase "Form Follows Function" comes to mind. Is that Richardson? I don't think it's Frank Lloyd Wright. Anyway,
breaking the holocaust myth is so important, from an anti-war
perspective. That's an idea I put forth in my Buchenwald movie where I
show Ron Paul in an exchange with John McCain. And also where I show
Darth Vader in an exchange with Obi Wan Kenobi, LOL.

It could be this is what the form for this function looks like.

You mentioned Errol Morris's film, Mr. Death, about Fred Leuchter. Any thoughts on Morris's work?

Mr. Death
is about holocaust denial, and the only way that movie could
make it into every video store in the country is to have the proponent
(Leuchter) portrayed as a freak. In the 1500's, there was probably some
corollary with Atheism. Some book which discussed atheism, but where it was allowed
because it was a freak or a Bad Man who was an atheist.

That's an interesting point. Do you think that Mr. Death can be viewed
as an esoteric defense of Leuchter — and of Holocaust denial, even if
that wasn't Morris's intention? I read that when an early cut was
shown, audiences responded with sympathy toward the Bad Man, and that
the film was subsequently re-edited to include the critical segments
featuring Robert Jan van Pelt, which really do seem tacked on.

Yes, my video "One Third" mentions that. A preliminary screening of Mr.
at Harvard University had some students believing Leuchter's
theory, so he re-edited the movie.

I almost find it hard to believe some students sided with Leuchter,
because I know how hard it is to convince someone the holocaust is a
hoax. It's almost impossible.

If the evidence converges the way you say, then why do you think
intelligent people seldom reach the conclusion that seems obvious to
you? Why should it be "almost impossible" to convince someone? That
sounds more like the kind of impasse one finds in a religious dispute.

This sort of is a religious dispute. The holocaust replaced
Christianity as the definer of evil. The Good Samaritan becomes the
Righteous Gentile. It's nearly impossible to convince really smart
people that the holocaust is a myth. Yet these really smart people know
little about the holocaust. They usually don't know it supposedly
happened largely in the East.

Speaking of really smart people, some intelligent friends assure me that Holocaust denial has about
as much intellectual value as Intelligent Design theory or "9-11 Truth"
conspiracy mongering. Holocaust skepticism is also popularly associated
with those who argue that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax. What's the difference?

The holocaust really is a hoax and the other things you mentioned
really are untrue conspiracy theories, including 9-11. I think 9-11
happened just like the media says it did. At the same time there are
conspiracies out there which no one talks about. Like Idi Amin as
mentioned in my "Nazi Shrunken Heads" video.

I guess the only documentary that might bear obvious comparison to your
work is the 1992 Auschwitz expose',
David Cole Interviews
Dr.Franciszek Piper
. Any thoughts on Cole's work, and on his
"recantation" under Irv Rubin's death threat?

I like the David Cole video. I think it's good. Cole was onto this way before me.

Cole's recantation to Irv Rubin is once again a Middle Ages comparison.
I mean, just the word "recantation." Middle Ages comparisons are always
coming up with holocaust denial.

The folks over at Holocaust Controversies have chided you repeatedly
for dodging tough questions, for failing to link to their blog, and for
ducking their challenges to debate. What say you? Do they present
arguments and evidence that threaten the credibility of your views? Are
you chicken?

Yes, I remember the "chicken challenge" when Holocaust Controversies
displayed a chicken on their main page along with a counter of the days
that I STILL hadn't linked to them.

I've never linked to anybody. I don't even link to CODOH.

I think people should watch my videos, and then read their rebuttals, and make their own decision.

I tried to solicit rebuttals to my chapters at UC Berkeley and Harvard
University, but they wouldn't let me place a newspaper ad asking for

I read all the Holocaust Controversies rebuttals. Occasionally I find
a good point. Often I find a "straw man argument." It's important to
know what a straw man argument is. It took me awhile to grasp the
concept. I'll give an example: Muehlenkamp wrote in his Stroop Report
rebuttal essay that I believe that the famous holocaust photo of the
Jewish boy with his hands up, is staged, and then he writes all the
reasons why that notion is absurd. I don't think the photo is staged
though. I think it's at Hotel Polski. The Stroop Report forger cobbled
photos from various places. Muehlenkamp presented my supposed position,
and then knocked it down (like a straw man.) I find a lot of that at Holocaust Controversies, and like my writing right here, it's tedious to
point it out. A rebuttal to a rebuttal tends to make confusing and
non-gripping writing.

In your Buchenwald documentary, you make frequent reference to the role
of Allied Psychological Warfare operations in postwar de-Nazification
efforts. I'm guessing that most people are not aware that such 
operations even existed. Can you briefly discuss the role of "Sykewar"
and why it is relevant to the revisionist/denialist critique?

Eisenhower had his very own Psyche Warfare unit, called PWD-SHAEF.
During WWII there were lots of different psyche warfare departments,
but this was the big one.

The OSS was the American equivalent to the KGB and the Gestapo, but it
answered to Roosevelt. Psyche Warfare, in contrast, answered directly
to Eisenhower. This is relevant because PWD-SHAEF, short circuited the
American government system, by hatching a psyche warfare operation at
Buchenwald, and then using it to fool members of congress and the
American people. It's a piece of the holocaust myth, and the reason
Eisenhower became president and, in the larger scheme of the myth, the
reason the country of Israel was created.

Who was CD Jackson?

He's the guy down the hall when Roman Polanski was filming Rosemary's
in the early 1960's, because the Dakota Apartments is where that
film was shot and it's where CD Jackson lived.

He's a guy who made the remarkable career advancement of running his
family's New York marble importing company, to suddenly becoming
assistant to Henry Luce, owner of Time/Life.

Beyond that, you'll have to watch the movie.

In Buchenwald: A Dumb-Dumb Portrayal of Evil, Eisenhower emerges as a
central villain — a figure who colluded with psychological warfare
operatives to control mass media reports of Allied atrocities and to
promote a deceptive account of Nazi war crimes in order to advance
self-aggrandizing political goals. Of course, this will seem preposterous and offensive to Americans
who grew up believing that Eisenhower was great war hero and President.
Why are they wrong?

Well, there should have been a little bit of a "heads up" regarding
Eisenhower, when Gary Powers' spy plane was shot down by the Soviet
Union and Eisenhower went on national TV and said we don't fly spy
planes over the Soviet Union, only to have the Soviets shortly after
produce Gary Powers.

Things weren't what they seemed in the 1950s, which is a central tenet of Philip K. Dick's book Time Out of Joint.

The American public was being manipulated by a media/government elite, and Eisenhower was central to it.

You've speculated that Senator Joe McCarthy may have been wise to
Eisenhower's propaganda campaign and that he was possibly "poised to
uncover the holocaust myth." This is a novel thesis, to say the least.
Is it a loose thread, or something you are pursuing?

I got that impression from reading The Chairman by Kai Bird,
even though Bird, not being a denier, wasn't putting that across. When
Bird mentioned that Ed Murrow brought McCarthy down, and I knew Ed Murrow
from a radio address from Buchenwald and his connection to Paley, I was
like "huh?!?" You read in Bird, how Murrow puts footage on national TV
of McCarthy picking his nose. Stuff like that. And in Bird's book you find where Lucius Clay, the first governor of
West Germany, asks Eisenhower if there's a way to get McCarthy to stop

It's also odd that so many key people die when they do. McCarthy dies
at 49, just years after the McCarthy hearings. Patton dies in a car
wreck just after the war. Roosevelt dies the very day Eisenhower's
psyche warfare unit begins it's holocaust myth push. Then there's
Kennedy. I don't believe they're all conspiracy secret assassinations.
But I wonder if maybe one of them is, though I don't know which one.

But doesn't that sort of speculation edge on conspiracy-mongering? Do you worry that your research may lead you to see connections where none exist? It's a natural human tendency, according to psychologists. Apophenia, I think.

You have to know when to stop. It's disappointing to me that so many revisionists are 9-11 conspiracy theorists.

I'm not sure if it began with Jean-Claude Pressac's work, but in recent
years a number of books have been published that purport to refute or
debunk Holocaust denial. I'm thinking of works by Lipstadt, Vidal
Naquet, van Pelt, Shermer & Grobman, and Zimmerman, although I'm
sure there are others. Do you keep up with the work of such critics,
and do you find any of them to have value?

I don't think in these works you'd find a lot on Treblinka, Sobibor,
Belzec, and Buchenwald because they are probably largely
on Auschwitz. I haven't read them nor have they come up in Google
searches on topics I've looked up.

I tried to solicit scholars to debunk my videos, but I wasn't allowed
to place newspaper ads. "One Third of the Holocaust" has been out for
years, and Lipstadt pretends it doesn't exist.

I was allowed to place an ad in the University of Minnesota student
paper asking for rebuttals to Nazi Shrunken Heads, but got no takers.

Why weren't you allowed to take out newspaper ads?

You can see the ads I tried to place on my website.

The UC Berkeley student newspaper originally took my $1,000 and
accepted the ad, then they went back on that. They started making up
all these new rules once I came along. Like that for over 150 dollars, a person
had to pay with a personal check and supply ID. No one else had to do
that! Then I got Bradley Smith involved and he said he'd pay with a
personal check. Then we bent over backwards to be obliging to their requests, like they wanted us to
change the ad to say say that anyone could write a rebuttal, not just
professors. So we added "open to everyone" to the ad. After no less
than 60 emails going back and forth, and them giving us the run around,
they finally completely balked and wouldn't place the ad. The money was
refunded. So much for the university that started the "Free Speech

OK. Let's assume you're right — at least in the broad strokes — about all
of it. The Holocaust is a massive whopper, and life goes on. What I
wonder is: is there a point at which the news breaks? Does the academic
consensus come around at some point, vindicating the work of these
outlaw historians who have been firebombed and pummeled and
incarcerated and intimidated and defamed and censored? Or is the taboo
against questioning the canonical Holocaust story too deeply entrenched
— like the Christian Gospels?

It could happen like the way Christianity broke: taking hundreds of years in a long convoluted path.

Or it could happen but with a head-spinning media spin. With some guy
we've never heard of, being the "head of the revisionists." In other
words, the media-created head of the revisionists who comes out of
nowhere. And it could be spun as some incredible disservice that's
happened to the Jews. And that spin would be partly correct.

I'll keep that second scenario on file. Just
out of curiosity, do you have an opinion about the historical existence
of Jesus? I know it's a matter of contention in some circles.

I'm atheist. I don't think Jesus even existed historically. There's
definitely a connection between atheism and holocaust denial.

One revisionist text that I find interesting is The Gas Chamber of
Sherlock Holmes
, by Samuel Crowell. Crowell uses intertextual literary
analysis to argue that the gas chamber stories arose out of a kind of
social panic over the use of poison gas — a panic that grew out of the
First World War and that finds expression in numerous contemporaneous
literary works and news reports. The argument is essentially that the
Holocaust narrative — or at least the core element of genocide via gas
chambers — may have found root in an atmosphere of mass delusion that
would later be exploited by Allied victors, then historicized by
credulous scholars and journalists. But where Crowell focuses mainly on
social psychology and the cultural reification of mass hysteria (his
monograph has been aptly compared to Elaine Showalter's
your work seems more concerned with Chomsky-brand media manipulation
and top-down machinations. Politically-driven collusion among
high-ranking power-brokers, like Ike and his psy-ops agents.

Is the difference between your and Crowell's approach one of
method and emphasis? Is his study of socio-cultural semiotics consonant
with the arguments you advance in your videos? Or do you think his
literary analysis fails to confront the more nefarious role of military
propaganda and psychological warfare?

I think that the theory I put forth and Crowell's theory are just two
"surfaces of truth" — a term I remember reading in Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida.

I really liked Crowell's book. It's a paranoia-based theory. And my
Buchenwald video has a paranoia aspect when I mention Philip K. Dick.

It's as you said: Eisenhower and his Psyche Warfare team capitalized on
paranoia. But when you know about people like CD Jackson, and their
connections to the Council of Foreign Relations, as described by Kai
Bird, then it's capitalism capitalizing.

Can you explain what you mean by the phrase: "capitalism capitalizing"? It sounds like something out of Baudrillard.

Well, in Kai Bird's book, The Chairman, he describes these New York
captains of banking, media, and industry as being members of the
Council on Foreign Relations. And what that organization did was try to
influence foreign policy to promote U.S business. C.D Jackson, John
McCloy, Henry Luce, William Paley I believe, were all in it. And they
capitalized on the paranoia, on the confusion with death from typhus,
to help put forth the holocaust myth. That's capitalism capitalizing. Paley of CBS, working in Psyche Warfare. Jackson at Life, working in in
Psyche Warfare, both CFR members. It's capitalism capitalizing.

To the general public, Holocaust denial is almost exclusively
associated, in political terms, with the far right. But your video
project is laced with references to the Palestinian cause. You allude
at various points to Noam Chomsky and Ron Paul and Phillip K. Dick, and
here you've just thrown out a nod to Barthes. At times you seem to
buttress your conclusions with critical and arguably sinister
interpretation of capitalism (the "invisible brain"; "capitalism
capitalizing"), and you conclude your Buchenwald series with a
humorously framed indictment of militarism and what I take to be a
sincere call for peace, love, and understanding. Can you describe your
political point of view? And do you think that Holocaust denial implies
or precludes any political worldview or ideology?

I think right now holocaust denial is like atheism at some point in the
Middle Ages. At that time an atheist position would have seemed like
the opposite of a moralist view, and maybe for some pirate types, it
really was.

Even feminism in the early 70's meant one thing and means another now.

Holocaust denial might go through some identity changes too. The idea of what it means to believe in something.

You've completed two feature length Holocaust denial movies and have
been blacklisted by YouTube. What's next? Any future projects to plug?

No, no future projects in store.

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for the questions. I really liked the exchange.


Comments are open.

Memento mori.

Coming Soon…

Armored edentates don't hibernate, but they are sleepy critters. I will return to the polarizing Michel Epstein thread when the work is done.  For now, I want to point up a few morsels in the offing.

First off, I am pleased to announce that L.A. Rollins' The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays is at long last off the press. The big brown truck will deliver the full run to me later this week and those of you who placed advance orders will have copies in your mitts very soon thereafter. I appreciate your patience and your interest, and I apologize for all of the delays. I still haven't gotten around to completing the Nine-Banded Books site redesign, so  if you want an autographed copy, please email me and I'll provide you with mail order instructions.

Our next book is Considering Suicide, by Andy Nowicki. I don't have a release date set, but it's on a faster track than The Myth, I promise.  After that will be Against Life, Against Death, which is a collection of essays on antinatalism and related ideas. There's one more manuscript in the anteroom, but it would be premature to announce that one just yet.

Recognizing that this space has grown somewhat stagnant, I have decided to liven things up with a series of interviews, the first of which should appear in a couple of weeks. Please keep checking in.

Memento mori.