Ireland proposes radical anti-hate speech law that would make memes and common phrases illegal, such as “Irish Lives Matter”
The conservative government of Ireland is proposing anti-hate speech laws in the wake of widespread anti-immigration protests in the capital of Dublin that could criminalize the possession of certain memes and the uttering of the phrase “Irish Lives Matter.”
On Nov. 23, an Algerian immigrant who had obtained Irish citizenship over two decades ago stabbed three children and a schoolteacher outside of their school in Dublin. The suspect’s identity spread and resulted in protests and rioting all over Dublin that ended up destroying 11 police vehicles, damaging 13 shops and looting dozens of stores. Protesters clashed with police, and at least 34 people were arrested.
In response to the protests, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose father Ashok is an Indian immigrant, said that his conservative coalition government would modernize the country’s hate speech laws. (Related: Ireland going full woke, plans to criminalize possession of materials deemed “hateful” by authorities.)
“I think it’s now very obvious to anyone who might have doubted us, that our incitement to hatred legislation is just not up to date,” said Varadkar. “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,” he added. “We need to be able to use laws to go after them immediately.”
Bill expands power of Irish government to prosecute people who supposedly spread “hate speech”
The proposed legislation, titled the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offenses) Bill 2022, was first introduced in November 2022 and was delayed due to public outcry. Now, it is being reintroduced and is currently making its way through the Irish Parliament.
If enacted, the bill would prohibit the incitement to violence or “hatred against a person or group of persons” based on “certain characteristics,” including race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities.
The bill allows judges to issue search warrants for alleged violators’ property if law enforcement can present sufficient evidence of their involvement in instances of hate speech. This includes the authority to search and seize the belongings of alleged perpetrators and their families, including electronic devices.
The scope of the bill provides the Irish government with the power to declare people in violation of the law if they prepare or possess “material that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected 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.”
Critics of the proposal warn that individuals could be charged because they posted so-called “reckless” comments on social media or even if they share memes on the basis that these comments or memes allegedly incite violence or hatred. Furthermore, the Irish government could even use this bill to claim that certain statements or phrases are illegal because they can lead to violence or further hatred.
The bill is also a response to messages that have circulated in Ireland in the wake of the stabbing and protests that read “Irish Lives Matter,” an adaptation of the phrase “All lives matter,” which itself is a reaction to the rise of the statement “Black Lives Matter” and the movement it spawned in the United States.
The government is now investigating the use of the phrase “Irish Lives Matter,” with police deeming the phrase a “hate crime.”
Learn more about attempts by governments around the world to regulate speech at SpeechPolice.news.
Watch this video from John Williams discussing the protests that have engulfed Dublin, warning that the United States could be next.
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