© Steve Jervetson https://bit.ly/3wnj1RF CC BY 2.0 https://bit.ly/3BPuomv

Elon Musk: This Irish Hate Speech law is a “massive attack” on free speech

Look, it is bad news, I’m afraid. On the one hand, Elon Musk is entirely correct about the hate speech law meandering its way through the Dáil.

On the other hand, if you want that bunch of mindless drones we call the Irish establishment to support something, well, just tell them Elon Musk opposes it:

The law is so bad that even Paul Murphy, never usually shy about wanting to shut up his opponents, cannot support it in good conscience. It is called a “hate speech” law but the thing about that is that it is entirely mis-named: You do not have to speak to fall foul of it.

As written, the law states that you can be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned just for possessing material that could conceivably – in the mind of some functionary – be considered hateful if somebody else saw it. And if you don’t want to be convicted, you would need to prove that you did not intend to share it with anyone else. In the most extreme example, you could theoretically go to jail for the crime of owning some un-edited Roald Dahl books that had not yet been re-written by some sensitivity reader at Penguin Books.

So Musk is correct that it is extreme, and a massive attack on Free Speech. Which will, I promise you, make the aforementioned drones even more determined to pass it, for reasons almost entirely separate from what is in the act itself.

For one thing, “extreme” used to mean something bad, but it now means something good, in the right circumstances. We live in an era where it is simply not possible to be progressive enough and where the concept of being too progressive simply does not exist. If you have an extreme hate speech bill, well, all that means is that you are extremely opposed to hate speech. The laws you support are a reflection of your personality and identity much more than they are an act of careful and considered legislation. Arguments about “free speech” don’t work with the left. You might as well set out to convince a wolf that sheep are not tasty. Just talking about sheep makes them hungrier. The idea that free speech is dangerous is deeply engrained on the modern left, so telling them that they’re attacking it is not likely to discourage them.

I have written before that there are substantial parallels between the current progressive fanaticism in western policy and the reformation in England. This particular debate, I think, underlines that comparison, especially when one realises that the work of the English reformation was to systematically stamp out a religion and system of values that had been practiced for centuries. You just cannot do that with free speech, or free thought, because there will always be those capable of defending and appealing back to the old ways, especially in times of difficulty.

And so then, as now, there was a constant fear that a small cadre of heretics (papists then, the “far right” now) are determined to roll back progress and liberty and are constantly plotting in secret to undermine the great leap forward of the reformation.

Then, as now, there was a desire to use the full force of law to crush any chance of a return to the “old ways” – they had the Test Act, which made one declare full fealty to the Protestant Church, and we have the hate speech laws and exclusion zones for protest which have the similar purpose of making public dissent illegal.

Then, as now, there were fears of foreign princes and interlopers intervening to support papist plots against the crown: They had the Popes and the Spanish Kings, who were always, it was alleged, trying to raise a papist rebellion. We have, variously, Elon Musk and Donald Trump and Nigel Farage and unregulated social media companies, pouring counter-revolutionary poison into the minds of impressionable Irish people.

And finally, then, as now, no punishment is good enough: They had literal burnings at the stake. As Ian Banham found out last week, we have figurative ones. This revolution doesn’t end your life, just your career.

Ultimately, the only way to resist is to completely ignore this law and accept that there will be the odd martyr, and that the martyr might even be you. As I have written before, Gript Media will do just that. We will not seek to offend anyone, or actively seek to break the law, but we will defend our right to free speech and free expression. If someone wants to prosecute us for that, then let them.

The other imperative is that politicians and activists who support this new law must be made live with its consequences the same as the rest of us: Politicians who engage, for example, in anti-catholic rhetoric should be reported to the Gardai. The same goes for politicians, particularly on the left, who make intemperate comments about Israel, as many of them are wont to do. And the same goes for newspaper publishers who sanction articles that launch unhinged attacks on anti-immigration protestors, or any other unapproved group. Either make them live by their own laws, or expose the selective prosecution of those laws.

As I wrote in regard to Ian Banham last week, the culture war will not end until the left are forced to the negotiating table. It is a culture war, after all, not a culture disagreement.

We can write and talk all we want about free speech, but it is clear that those who favour this law are not interested in free speech. If they are ever to believe in it again, it will be because they have been forced to endure the consequences of their alternative.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are closed

Do you support the Governments plans to put calorie labels on wine bottles?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...