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Ireland’s “Hate Speech Bill” is a grotesque abuse of State power that will affect freedom of speech worldwide

Published: December 7, 2023 | Print Friendly and PDF
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Ireland’s “Hate Speech Bill” or The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 is a radical update to Irish hate crime law. It is a blueprint for authoritarianism, threatening jail time for the possession of memes and even reversing Ireland’s constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence – you are presumed guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.

Interest in the revised hate speech laws has been spurred by recent rioting in Dublin following the stabbing of three children and an early childhood worker outside of a school last month.

Australian media outlet Defence Connect reported that the riots prompted Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar to encourage a review of Ireland’s hate speech legislation. “I think it’s now very obvious to anyone who might have doubted us, that our incitement hatred legislation is just not up to date,” Varadkar said.

“It’s not up to date for the social media age, and we need that legislation through. And we need it through in a matter of weeks because it’s not just the platforms that have a responsibility here, and they do, it’s also the individuals who post messages and images online that stir up hatred and violence. We need to be able to use laws to go after them individually.”

Irish law firm Matheson wrote that the Bill will expand the regulation of hate crimes in Ireland considerably and introduce the following new offences:

  • incitement to violence or hatred on account of certain defined protected characteristics;
  • condonation, denial or gross trivialisation of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace; and
  • preparing or possessing material likely to incite violence or hatred on account of protected characteristics.

How does the Bill define hatred? It defines “hatred” as “hatred” and doesn’t bother to alleviate concerns regarding the subjectivity and perception of emotion.

The Attorney General advised that “for the purpose of this legislation, ‘hatred’ takes on its ordinary meaning as opposed to being set out as a definition, as it is a concept that is universally understood.”

The current Garda (police) definition of hate is: “Any non-crime incident which is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”

One of the most astounding inclusions in the Bill, Defence Connect noted, is that a person doesn’t even have to have demonstrated hatred yet to be guilty of an offence – the mere chance that you may be “likely” to incite hatred is enough to be guilty.

One of the key features of the Bill is the provision for offences by corporate bodies. Where a body corporate is found to be guilty of an offence under the Bill, it will be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine.

The Bill was passed by the Dáil in April 2023 and is currently at the Committee Stage in the Seanad Éireann.  The Dáil is the lower house and the Seanad is the upper house of the Irish parliament, the Oireachtas. The Seanad can amend a Bill that has been passed by the Dáil and delay but not stop it from becoming law.

Free Speech Ireland said that there is an international dimension to the Bill. Not only because of the precedent it sets but also because of the effect it would have on other countries.

In May, Sarah Hardiman from Free Speech Ireland joined The Jist to discuss Ireland’s controversial new “hate crime” legislation.  Below is a clip from the interview tweeted yesterday by Free Speech Ireland.  You can watch the full interview HERE.

In a video yesterday, Michael Shellenberger also pointed out the impact the Bill will have internationally. “It’s not a Bill about protecting the Irish people from hate crimes. It’s a Trojan Horse designed to control the world’s Big Tech companies – X, Facebook, Google, and YouTube,” he said.

The following is the transcript of Shellenberger’s video, you can watch the video HERE.

Totalitarian Bid to Censor Entire Internet Behind Ireland Hate Speech Crackdown

By Michael Shellenberger

We can and must stop this attack on free speech.

It sounds like a “Black Mirror” episode: a small country announces a crackdown on hate speech to seize control over the entire Internet.  Except it’s not a “Black Mirror” episode. It’s real life. And it’s happening right now in Ireland.

The so-called “Hate Speech” Bill isn’t what it seems. It’s not a Bill about protecting the Irish people from hate crimes. It’s a Trojan Horse designed to control the world’s Big Tech companies – X, Facebook, Google, and YouTube.

This is a free speech emergency.

We thought the legislation was dead. But the Irish government is using recent riots as an excuse to ram the legislation through before Christmas.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. THIS IS NOT ABOUT IRELAND. THIS IS A TOTALITARIAN EFFORT BY GLOBAL ELITES TO CENSOR ALL OF US.

It’s right there in black and white: “One of the key features of the Bill,” write two attorneys with a leading Irish law firm, “is the provision for offences by corporate bodies.”

How can Big Tech companies avoid censorship? You guessed it: by agreeing to regulation of their content by the Irish government.

“The current iteration of the Bill,” the attorneys write, “provides a defence for the corporate body to show that it took all reasonable steps and exercised due diligence to avoid the commission of the particular offence. Therefore, to establish and maintain such a defence, companies will need to have the appropriate processes and procedures in place.

The Irish government is almost certainly not acting alone. As my colleagues and I have reported, the demand for censorship is coming directly from the militaries, intelligence agencies, and their front groups in the US, UK, and around the world.

There’s no time to mince words. What governments are doing is against the law. They are violating the constitutions of the nations that the people elected them to uphold.

Because of the high level of secrecy they are using, we can’t say whether or not these are “rogue” elements within governments or whether these orders are coming from heads of state.

But we do know that demands for censorship have come both directly from the US military and from heads of state of Western nations around the world. What’s happening should terrify all freedom-loving people.

We must fight back.

We will fight back.

That starts with recognising what’s going on. Please share this post and tell friends and family what’s going on.

Finally, please consider getting involved directly. We have created and personally contributed to an Emergency Free Speech Fund to get the word out.

This isn’t about “hate speech.” This is about out-of-control elites within the intelligence, military, and security agencies around the world who are grotesquely abusing their power in a mad bid to take control of the Internet.

If we don’t stop them now, in Ireland, this terrifying “Black Mirror” episode will become real life.

About the Author

Michael Shellenberger is an investigative journalist who has broken major stories on crime and drug policy, homelessness, Amazon deforestation, rising climate resilience, growing eco-anxiety, the US government’s role in the fracking revolution, and climate change and California’s fires.  He is the founder and president of Environmental Progress and cofounder of the California Peace Coalition.

Shellenberger has authored two books:  ‘San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities’ and ‘Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All’.  He publishes articles on a Substack page titled ‘Public’ which you can subscribe to and follow HERE.

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