We have previously discussed the growing anti-free speech movement in Ireland. As discussed in The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in the Age of Rage, these crackdowns on free speech tend to come with periods of public panic or anger.
Anti-free speech advocates use such periods as opportunities to get the public to surrender this core right to government censors or prosecutors.
Right on schedule, Ireland is now pushing one of the most chilling crackdowns to date.
The excuse for the latest rollback of free speech was a riot in Dublin leading to the arrest of 34 people and extensive property damage in anti-immigration protests.
The protests have challenged the government policies on handling undocumented migrants.
The bill criminalizes any “preparing or possessing material likely to incite violence or hatred against persons on account of their protected characteristics.”
That includes any material concerning national or ethnic origin, as well as protected characteristics including “transgender and a gender other than those of male and female.”
The bill includes crimes relating to “xenophobia” and can be committed merely by the”public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material.”
Elon Musk has flagged the law as have other free speech advocates.
Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar has rushed to ride the political wave after the recent Dublin riot to announce that he would fight hatred by taking away rights. He declared his intent to “modernize laws against hatred” by criminalizing speech that his government decides is “incitement.” He insisted that the existing legislation is “not up to date for the social media age” and needs to have a broad reach of criminalized speech. He wants to crackdown not just on violence but on those who say things that might “stir up” others.
What was particularly chilling was a speech by the Irish Green Party Sen. Pauline O’Reilly who admitted that “We are restricting freedom, but we’re doing it for the common good.”
That is all it takes to get citizens to surrender core rights, a declaration that fewer rights is better for the common good. It has become a Siren Call on the left not just abroad but in the United States.
I have previously written columns about the rising generation of censors in our country. After years of being told that free speech is harmful and dangerous, many young people are virtual speech phobics — demanding that opposing views be silenced as “triggering” or even forms of violence. A recent Pew poll showed just how much ground we have lost, including the emergence of the Democratic Party as a virulent anti-free speech party. Pew found that “Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online (70% vs. 39%).”
Ireland shows how public disorder can play into the hands of government officials in further limiting the right of free speech.
As O’Reilly explained, free speech is simply too dangerous and denying the right is now viewed as a public good.
Of course, some have more direct measures.
Dublin Councilman Abul Kalam Azad Talukder has reportedly called for protesters to be “shot in the head or bring the public in and beat them until they die.”