The discussion of Holocaust denial has been going on long enough now that it might as well go on a bit longer. Ophelia seems to have been somewhat put out because in that discussion I haven't given the same attention she has to the issue of falsifying evidence, within the wider category of falsehood, lying and so on in Holocaust denial. She shouldn't be put out. There's no principle of intellectual exchange demanding that one participant must give as much prominence to a particular aspect of the matter in hand as another does.
The reason I haven't devoted the amount of attention to the issue of falsifying evidence that Ophelia plainly believes I should have is that, in the context of our disagreement, I don't think it has the importance she thinks it does. To put this baldly, the distinction Ophelia wishes to emphasize between untruth about the Holocaust, lying etc, on the one hand, and falsifying the evidence, on the other ('Holocaust denial and falsifying the evidence are two separate things'), is so far as I'm concerned - and I stress here again, only with respect to the matter in dispute, not generally - a distinction without a difference. That is to say, it's a distinction that doesn't matter in deciding whether David Irving's disgraceful activities are covered by rights of freedom of expression or not. In arguing that in many countries (not Austria and Germany) they are so covered and should be, I have meant this to apply to Holocaust denial as a general category - lying, speaking or writing falsehoods - and more specifically to the practice of distorting the historical evidence. The odd thing is that even now, in registering her complaint about what I should have given more attention to (though she concedes that I have mentioned it, as is a fact), Ophelia herself doesn't say different. I come back to that.
As she has referred more than once to the decision in the Irving-Lipstadt case, which went against Irving, it is worth noting that Irving was not prosecuted - either for denying the Holocaust or for falsifying evidence. He was not, that is to say, brought to law. On the contrary, he sued Deborah Lipstadt for libel, he brought the case to law, and lost. That he did so does not therefore show that he'd broken the law by virtue of his Holocaust-denying activities, including falsification of evidence to that end, that he was unfree, under the law, to engage in these. It shows only that you don't have any (composite) right to lie and distort historical evidence and then win damages from someone who asserts that that is what you've done. Like Holocaust denial in general, falsifying evidence to the purpose of Holocaust denial is not a criminal offence. You are free, consequently, to do it.
In a subsequent post, Ophelia says that in her view falsification of historical evidence should not be a criminal offence. Legally, then, one can do it, though this doesn't make it morally right or admirable; it is (wherever it is), like Holocaust denial in general, a liberty right. That Ophelia endorses this legal state of affairs entails that she thinks falsifying historical evidence not only is a liberty right but it ought to remain one. From this it follows that she thinks it is part of a morally acceptable legal state of affairs that a person who falsifies historical evidence to propagate the lie that the Holocaust didn't happen is behaving within their rights, albeit also behaving vilely.
Naturally, other things matter than what an individual's rights are, as everyone in this discussion has already acknowledged. One of the things that matters is this: if you make a claim to being a historian and mess with standards of historical evidence, you are betraying the vocation of the historian. Whatever may be your rights, you will not be a reputable figure within the community of historians, to say nothing of other scholars and people more generally.
In her very latest post on this issue (at the time of writing), Ophelia picks up on some remarks of Eve's about a moral right entailing that others shouldn't prevent you from what the right permits, and construes the meaning of 'prevent' in such a way as to make peer review a form of prevention when it places barriers in the way of work containing error and falsification. There is a comment from Eve herself below, at the end of this post. But on Ophelia's construal, a novelist whose novel isn't published because referees say it isn't good enough has had her right to produce (putatively) bad novels, or novels (period), violated. If the Conservatives lose an election, they can justifiably complain that Labour 'prevented' them from winning - since Labour certainly did try to stop them doing so - and therefore breached their political rights. And so forth. This is merely to confuse the issue of legal and moral rights, which protect people against coercive interference in what they choose to do, and the standards applied to the conduct of certain activities by those who have a concern for them and/or the rules governing some competitive endeavours.
Eve Garrard comments: Having a moral right means that others shouldn't prevent you in the exercise of it. It doesn't mean that they have to assist you in that exercise. The moral right to free speech isn't a right to have your views disseminated or published or agreed with; it's just a right to say what you choose, without others forcibly preventing you. It's a right not to be punished for saying what you choose, but it isn't identical to the parallel legal right which exists in this and many other countries, since people can have a moral right to free speech even if there is no such legal right in their polity. This moral right derives from our respect for the autonomy of individuals; a respect which explains why we think individuals should sometimes be free to do things which are morally objectionable.