New Hate Speech Law Could Criminalize Irish Citizens for “possessing material likely to incite violence or hatred”

A newly passed bill by the Irish government will jail citizens for the simple act of possessing material that criticizes certain protected “victim groups” that span gender identities to national origin. 

The Irish Criminal Justice Bill will allegedly target “hate speech.” According to a Fox News report, several critics of the law have compared it to the concept of punishing people for “thoughtcrime.” This term was popularized by George Orwell’s novel “1984.” 

The text of the “Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022,” highlights that a person can be imprisoned 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 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 bill features several “protected characteristics” that an individual  can face prosecution for criticizing, which includes, color, nationality, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, or disability per the Fox News report. 

The bill’s text stated, “’gender’ means the gender of a person or the gender which a person expresses as the person’s preferred gender or with which the person identifies and includes transgender and a gender other than those of male and female.”

In short, individuals owning a Bible or texts with basic Catholic teachings about how the Bible handles sexual morality will face prosecution if this bill becomes law in Ireland. 

In addition, the law takes a “guilty until proven innocent” approach.

“In any proceedings for an offence under this section, where it is proved that the accused person was in possession of material such as is referred to in subsection (1) and it is reasonable to assume that the material was not intended for the personal use of the person, the person shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to have been in possession of the material in contravention of subsection (1),” the bill stated.

One section “Protection of freedom of expression” allegedly makes assurances that some form of speech will be safeguarded in exceptional cases, the wording is still vague.

“For the purposes of this Part, any material or behaviour is not taken to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics solely on the basis that that material or behaviour includes or involves discussion or criticism of matters relating to a protected characteristic,” the bill asserted.

This bill would also criminalize Irish people critical of mass migration.

The bill stated, “Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.”

One of the punishable crimes connected to “xenophobia” is simply “the commission of an act referred to in point (a) by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material,” which can even be applicable to political pamphlets critiquing the mass inflow of immigrants and refugees in Ireland.

Overall, what’s occurring in Ireland is a commonplace scenario across the Collective West. Free speech is dying, whether it’s through legislative edicts that undermine this right or private corporations infringing on this right. The Right must do everything possible to restrain the government’s ability to police free speech and clamp down on corporations who attack our freedoms.

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