Rights commission says free speech needs restricting due to racism

It is fitting, given that five of its 15 members have a direct personal involvement in the legal system, that the first item to jump out from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s latest missive on racism and discrimination is a clarion call for “the need to extend access to Legal aid for people facing discrimination.”

This might be completely appropriate given that there are no greater beneficiaries of the heroic struggle against racism and discrimination than, well, the legal profession. Not just those who benefit directly from wetting their beaks in the abundant waters of racism, but those who are colour blind when it comes to ensuring that even one of the white indigenes landing up before the Beak on his or her 145th charge has a damn good chance of being given allowed go free once more to tackle whatever demons have forced them to prey upon their neighbours.

That said, we ought of course to take seriously the demands of this august body comprised of marginalized Professors of Law, Equality, Human Rights and NGO bosses. For, who better than they to know the evil beast of discrimination that lurks among the shady by-ways of liberal Ireland?

This report is timed to coincide with today, March 21, being the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The IHREC being the hall monitors for Ireland on whom they regularly report back to New York on its egregious failures to eliminate bold things.

Specifically, they refer to the apparent “pattern of delays” by the Irish state in “meeting its target deadlines” in “eliminating racism and racial discrimination in Ireland.” Which begs the question as to what exactly is the target, and how will anyone – even the experts in spotting all of this – know when they have been met?

Racial discrimination and racism is, of course, bad – as is discriminating against anyone for random reasons of religion, physical appearance, sexuality, socio-economic background or whatever. Indeed, there are laws to deal with this, so that if a person feels that they are being denied a job, an apartment, a school place or whatever just because of one of the above, then they can take legal action. They have a good prospect of gaining satisfaction once they can prove their case.

There are few, if any, such successful legal cases in Ireland for the reason that the people who mostly control the structures which would be in a position to implement such discrimination are mostly people like those who make up the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and indeed every other elite body in the state. People outside of that circle generally treat others as they find them anyway.

Even a cursory acquaintance with the public life of Ireland would indicate that far from being discriminated against, that members of favoured minority groups are punching far above their weight in almost every area. Indeed, if you were to believe that mainstream media and commercial advertising is an accurate reflection of Irish society then you might be forgiven for thinking that almost every household in the country is non-binary, non-traditional and replete with persons of colour with perhaps the token Irish thrown in, sometimes in the role of Victorian Music Hall villain.

The problem with racialism is of course that it can cut both ways. This is argued, for example, by persons of Asian background in the United States who feel that they have been made the fall guys within the education system where their high standards of achievement have made them easy targets for positive discrimination favouring others.

It all depends on whether the IHREC or some other equivalent body decides that the random group of which you are a member is a “protected group.” If you are, then you can claim that more or less anything bad that happens to you is a consequence of your being a member of that group. If you are not, then you are just another individual piece of demographic flotsam and jetsam subject to the vagaries and twists of fortune of human existence.

Which again begs the question: Who are the protected groups in Irish society and on what basis are they, like the Corncrake, a protected group?

Even the IHREC – which one presumes is replete with experts on all of this stuff – seems pretty vague when it comes to definitions. In its current Submission on the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill we are provided with a definition of “groups which have a history of oppression or inequality, or which face deep-rooted prejudices, hostility and discrimination, or which are vulnerable for some other reason.”

That the quote is taken from the IHREC submission is appropriate because they are using all of this vagueness about racism and racial hatred in order to bolster their demands that the Irish state implement greater controls on public expression in order to combat some ill-defined “growth in racism and far-right organising in Ireland.”

The IHREC categorical claim in regard to this is referenced to a January 2020 report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which was presumably submitted by the IHREC.

And yet, if you go to the bother of reading that report there is not one single verifiable incident of any such instance of hate crime, despite the Committee being “concerned about the reportedly high level of racist hate crime targeted at ethnic minorities.” There’s that “reportedly” thing again.

The report similarly refers to “increasing incidence of racist hate speech towards Travellers, Roma, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants” without providing one single piece of evidence of any such thing. The claim is based on references to the internet where you can find more or less anything you want to find if you are so motivated.

Far more seriously is the claim on page 4 of the report, which alleges that there were “frequent instances of racist hate speech made by politicians, especially during election campaigns.” If there were, then surely they might have been able, or indeed expected by such a respectable body as the United Nations, to provide some evidence of this?

Is the Irish government happy that a Commission appointed by itself has stood over such a damning indictment of Irish society and indeed the Irish state through its police forces and other institutions including its democratic political process?

Especially bearing in mind that the United Nations, when it addresses issues of racism and actual hate crimes, has dealt with genocides and mass murder – not some NGO employee “reporting” that someone was beastly to them or to someone who rang their office.

All of this gross self-serving exaggeration based on subjective “reporting” might be safely ignored were it not for the fact that the IHREC and similar bodies wield significant clout. At the present time they are using that clout and those exaggerations in order to bolster what could well turn out to be a significant curtailing of public expression under the rubric of suppressing “hate crime.”

Perhaps we, and the state that appoints such a body, ought to be expecting somewhat higher standards when it comes to supporting the claims upon which they base their demands for such restrictions on public discourse.

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