DUBLIN, IRELAND — The Irish government is rolling out a draconian law that violates the basic tenets of democracy. The legislation – claiming to ban what authorities consider “hate speech” – makes it a crime to even be in private possession of certain information.
In 2019, the Irish government conducted a public consultation on whether so-called hate speech should be banned in the country. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 73 percent, were against the proposal. Yet, the government went along with pushing the bill, entitled The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022.
On April 26, the legislation passed the Dáil – the Irish parliament – with overwhelming support, even by opposition parties Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and the Labour Party. It was approved by 110 votes in favor and only 14 against.
MAKING “POSSESSION” A CRIME
The introduction to the bill states that it provides for “an offence of condoning, denying or grossly trivialising genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace” – formulations that are very broad and opens up for prosecutions of personal opinions.
But the law doesn’t only target overt incitement or dissemination of materials for public view. It also makes possession or preparation of such materials a crime. Under the headline “Offence of preparing or possessing material likely to incite violence or hatred against persons on account of their protected characteristics,” the legal text reads as follows:
“(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) and section 11, a person shall be guilty of an
offence under this section if the person (a) prepares or possesses material that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics with a view to the material being communicated to the public or a section of the public, whether by himself or herself or another person […]”
The crime of possessing materials that the Irish government considers illegal can land you in prison for up to two years, combined with fines. The law also gives authorities the right to search property, including computers, if they are suspected of possessing incriminating material. Not cooperating with a search warrant can lead to imprisonment for up to a year.
CRACKDOWN ON JOURNALISTS
Ireland, however, is not the only country where similar anti-free speech laws are propagated by governments. Sweden has had a hate speech law for many years, which critics claim is used to crack down on otherwise law-abiding citizens expressing discontents with negative effects of decades-long immigration from third-world countries. Even journalists are targets of government proxy organizations that monitor the internet for possible violations.
“Sweden is being swept by a strong wave of murder, violent assault, rape, gang rape and sexual assault, in addition to the ever-present terror threat. Instead of using its limited resources to protect its citizens from the violent onslaught against them, Sweden is waging war on its citizens for daring to speak out against the same violent onslaught from which the state is failing to protect them,” RAIR Foundation writes.
WEAPONIZING CLAIMS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ANTISEMITISM
In many cases, accusations of islamophobia are used to attack individuals that are considered problematic for government and globalist narratives – and in other cases, dissidents are accused of being antisemitic.
British MP Andrew Bridgen took a firm stand against mRNA vaccines, claiming that they caused deaths and injuries in the population. He was then accused of being an antisemite and expelled from the Tory party. A group of 25 leading Jewish physicians and scientists wrote a letter defending Bridgen, stating that the accusations of antisemitism were nonsense. Addressing UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, they wrote:
“It seems that you and others have seized upon the opportunity to raise the issue of antisemitism in order to limit the free speech of those who raise legitimate concerns about the efficacy and safety of these Covid vaccines and, needless to say, their mandating or coercion, which breached many well-established ethical norms. Weaponization of the important issue of antisemitism for these purposes is particularly objectionable and disrespectful towards its victims.”
In Austria, Martin Sellner, a right-wing activist, wrote on Telegram about a gruesome murder of a young girl committed by a knife-wielding asylum seeker. He was then charged with “incitement of hatred” and risked three years in prison. Sellner was recently acquitted by the court.
But the crackdown on speech is not just happening in the West. In South Africa and Brazil, governments are tightening their grip on citizens’ ability to engage in free debate and exchange of ideas – however wrong they might be. The Brazilian government recently attempted to ban the popular app Telegram, but the effort seems to have failed after a federal judge struck down the measure on April 29.
NEO-NAZIS IN FLORIDA
Closer to home, some of his supporters were surprised when Governor Ron DeSantis signed a hate speech bill which provides severe punishments – up to five years in prison – for spreading information that could incite “racial or ethnic animus.”
The bill, HB 269, received unanimous legislative support. It was allegedly inspired by a wave of harassment against Jewish residents in South Florida. A group of self-professed neo-Nazis yelled expletives outside of synagogues and spread leaflets that were interpreted as antisemitic.
Regardless of the law’s seemingly good intentions, First Amendment expert and constitutional attorney Barak Lurie told The Florida Standard that the law Governor DeSantis signed – and the entire Florida Legislature voted for – is unconstitutional.
“These laws can’t really fly. People seem to have no idea what the First Amendment means – they think it includes a right not to be offended. You can’t specifically single out certain groups, religious or not, based on symbols and clothing and say they have a right not to be offended,” Lurie explained.
Shouldn’t the governor and elected lawmakers know this beforehand? The fact that both the legislature and the governor’s office have access to a veritable army of attorneys makes the blanket approval of such legislation quite remarkable.
“THE ROAD TO TOTALITARIANISM”
Investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger has done a deep dive into the seemingly coordinated global effort to restrict freedom of speech.
“Around the world, politicians have either just passed or are on the cusp of passing sweeping new laws, which would allow governments to censor ordinary citizens on social media and other Internet platforms,” he writes – adding that populations in Western nations have become more tolerant in recent times, rather than the opposite that governments and non-governmental organizations often claim.
“In truth, acceptance of racial, religious, and sexual differences has never been higher in recorded human history. Never before have same-sex and mixed-race couples have been more accepted across all Western nations, which are far more tolerant than most other nations worldwide,” Shellenberger explains.
So why is this happening, and why now? Shellenberger has a theory. He says that the politicians are threatened by a “revolt of the public” that’s been enabled by the Internet.
“Terrorizing a large share of the population into believing another share of the population threatens democracy, urging them to become spies, and creating blacklists, is the road to totalitarianism,” Shellenberger states.