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Keogan: Hate speech laws will turn Ireland into a “woke theocracy”

Senator Sharon Keogan has railed against the government’s proposed hate speech laws, saying that they will turn Ireland into a “woke theocracy.”

The comments were made this week in the Seanad during a debate on a new proposed hate speech law.

“Everybody opposes hate crime and hate speech,” said Keogan.

“The problem is that everyone thinks they know what hate speech is, such as a gang of football hooligans hurling racist abuse at individuals on a street, or a boy or girl who is made to feel small and unwelcome because of his or her appearance.

“The thing about hate speech legislation is that it governs much more than these clear-cut cases.”

Keogan went on to outline some examples of potential statements which could theoretically be interpreted as “hate speech.”

“What about statements of fact?” she said.

“If I said most shoplifters are women, I do not know if that is true. If it is true, would that be hate speech towards women? What if I replaced the word “women” with a different definable group of people? What if we changed the crime? Will I still be allowed to make that statement if it was true?”

She continued: “What if I simply wanted to talk about my deeply held beliefs, which some people choose to be affronted by? It is not a hypothetical.”

The Senator went on to reference the ongoing case of Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish member of parliament, who is facing up to two years in prison for hate speech for tweeting Bible verses.

After the Finnish Lutheran Church decided to support a gay pride event, Räsänen questioned the Christian basis of the decision in a tweet, and included Bible verses which condemn homosexual acts.

As a result, she is facing prison time, and the courts will now have to decide whether quoting the Bible can be considered a criminal offence now in Finland.

“In Finland last month, a Member of Parliament was taken to court and faced up to two years in prison for the crime of ethnic agitation. Her crime was tweeting a picture of the Bible.

Keogan continued: “[Räsänen] said she would never have believed that this could happen in Finland’s democracy, with freedom of speech and freedom of religion in its constitution. Finnish prosecutors stated that the use of the word “sin” could be harmful and said that people are allowed in their minds to agree with the Bible, but cannot state that in public.”

Keogan said that many of the people pushing the bill were in favour of a “woke theocracy” in Ireland.

“Is that how we want Ireland to be too?” she asked.

“I am sure some people will say “Yes” to that question, those who would have our country be more like a woke theocracy which punishes citizens who dare to contradict the secular progressive dogma of the day. But my answer is a resounding “No.”

“The free speech we are entitled to serves to better this country and its people as ideas can be freely debated and forged in the crucible of public opinion. If an idea is hateful or repugnant, our sensibilities will allow it to die and arguments against it will show it to be false. Rather than mandating consensus, let us keep speech free and have ideas live or die by their merit.”

She concluded: “If we do not keep free speech in this country, we will be on a very slippery slope. We have all been victims of hate speech and hate crimes. Most of us politicians will have been victims. However, we must be able to hear what the opposition is saying and we must have a free mind. Unless we have that, I am afraid our society will be going down a very bad road.”

 

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