On November 17, 1991, Professor Robert Faurisson arrived in Spain intending to lecture on his favourite topic: Holocaust revisionism.
He was booked to speak at a couple of venues: the Central University of Barcelona and, on the following day, at the Complutense University of Madrid.
When the Paris branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center got wind of this, it dispatched its resident apparatchiks to try to derail his plans.
They contacted Spanish authorities at different institutions to force them to have the Faurisson lectures cancelled.
In Barcelona, Faurisson's opponents half-succeeded. That is, while the university lecture-hall was suddenly made unavailable, the professor instead gave his talk in a conference-room at a major hotel in downtown Barcelona.
In Madrid, however, Faurisson's opponents suffered a pratfall. At the 11th hour, a students' association dedicated to freedom of expression lobbied on behalf of the French professor and won for him the right to give his talk in a lecture-hall at the law faculty.
As it happened, Faurisson's lecture -- all things considered (by "all things" to be "considered" I refer, of course, to the tremendous barrage of generally bad publicity that preceded his lecture) -- in the end went over quite well.
To begin with, the audience, consisting mostly of students, gave him a cool, if not hostile, reception. Undaunted, he pressed ahead. After an hour, one was able to discern a sea-change in the audience. Evidently, some of the students had been won over; and many of them had become thoughtful.
The day after, the Spanish media reported on the remarkable impact of the Faurisson lecture. Even the journalists (often an obtuse lot) who were present noticed how, all told, the students had been impressed by the fountainhead of Holocaust revisionism, and gingerly remarked on it in their articles.
To be sure, Complutense University officials had done their utmost to stop Faurisson from speaking. But they hadn't reckoned on student idealism; they were powerless before it. The university officials did, however, release a statement "deploring" Faurisson's "deplorable" views.
As I say, this happened in 1991; not too long after the same university had seen fit to award a couple of honorary doctoral degrees to such ruthless communist dictators as Nicolai Ceaucescu of Rumania and Erich Honecker of East Germany. You may thus ascertain how much real moral authority Faurisson's critical university administrators had.
It recalls the former German president, Richard von Weizscker, and his nauseatingly pious utterances to his countrymen on "our" need to swallow and digest the truth regarding Germany's allegedly inglorious past as embodied in the Third Reich. This from the same apparently untroubled von Weizscker who, as head of the Boehringer Company, sold huge quantities of Agent Orange to the American military during the Vietnam War, a toxic substance then used to destroy the Vietnamese countryside and the many tens of thousands of Vietnamese peasants who lived there.