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Ballyfermot attack underlines immorality of hate crime law

Will ‘hate speech’ laws only work one way?

Footage of two Gardai being viciously assaulted in Ballyfermot last night is circulating online and according to RTE three arrests have been made in relation to the incident which occurred after the pair – a man and woman – were called to the scene of a public order incident. 

RTE reported that the male garda was “punched, kicked and knocked to the ground” and the female officer was “dragged away by her hair” when she tried to intervene as the assault continued.

Footage of the assault filmed at a distance shows 3 male assailants viciously kicking and beating the gardai while onlookers cheer and mock them. 

It is worth remembering, as a nation, that under Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s new ‘hate speech’ law if one or more of the officers had been from an ethnic background or were members of a minority sexuality group, and had been mocked in a manner according to these identities, the three suspects now in custody would face more severe punishments than if they had just beaten up plain old Irish Gardai. 

The new ‘hate speech’ law attaches two extra years to sentences for violent crime where a ‘hate’ motive is established in court. 

One would think that dragging a woman by the hair is enough of a crime already, but if an assailant were to drag a lesbian, or a muslim, or an Asian woman by the hair as part of a vicious assault – that could constitute a more heinous crime under the new law. 

Effectively this law could mean that it’s less wrong to physically assault Gardai, or any other member of the public, than it is to attack a gay person or a person of colour. How does that make sense? Doesn’t the law effectively make Gardai – these Gardai – second class citizens?

Now, if I’m remembering this correctly racism is the belief that some races are superior to others. What better way to establish this in law than to have the consequences for assaults on ethnic minorities groups etc. more severely punishable?

I wonder if this works ‘the other way’. Will ‘hate crimes’ against Catholics be taken as seriously as ‘hate crimes’ against muslims? 

Will the hammer attacks we saw last week on members of the National Party – specifically motivated by their beliefs – be treated as hate crimes? 

This writer has to wonder if these new laws will only work one way. 

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