Despite Ben Scallan’s exposure of the fact that the majority of submissions that formed part of the public consultation in the framing of the ‘Hate Speech’ Bill were opposed to the type of legislation passed, it is clear that the Government and political establishment including most of the opposition parties chose to take the minority view.
This is especially clear in how they have expanded the range of “protected characteristics.” These are now so broad as to suggest that a more economical definition might have been simply to provide a short description of those not protected under the legislation. You do not need a degree in anthropology or any of the modern racial or intersectional “sciences” to realise who they are.
This demand that the range of people to be protected be widened to include more of their clients was central to the lobbying by the NGOs active in the racial and gender and sexual politics sectors.
For example the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre (NASC) had asked that the “list of characteristics be expanded.” As did the Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development (ACJRD) who also bizarrely wanted the definition to be “future proofed” presumably to allow scope for the later inclusion of some newly invented intersectionality not yet imagined.
And while the request by the African Lawyers Association (ALJI) that “people of African descent” be explicitly included in the list of protected species was not taken up, they are obviously included in the rather strange formulation in Section 3, 2 (b) which refers to possible hateful references to “persons or groups of persons who descend from persons who could be identified by certain characteristics (such as race or colour), but not necessarily all of those characteristics still exist.”
Think about that one. As we pointed out before, people could be pinched for hating on people for reasons that are not even apparent to the hater.
Some of the more astute supporters of the general thrust of the legislation, including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), realised the dangers of a reductio ad absurdum were a more “exhaustive list” of protected groups be included in the legislation. That was lost obviously on those who proposed that “class” be one of the characteristics.
Some of the LGBTQ+ groups favoured a complex taxonomy in which all of the vast and expanding range of intersectional groups of the vulnerable and marginalised would have recourse to the law if they suspected they were being hated on. Which, despite the failure to append a list, the Bill as passed by the Dáil does arguably allow scope for in its strange formulations.
The submission from the leftie think tank TASC, who were recently honoured at Áras an Uachtaráin by fellow traveller President Michael D. Higgins, were among those arguing for class – defined as “profession” or “socio economic status” – to be included as protected categories.
Among those they would like to see protected are “human rights defenders” and “abortion providers”. So be careful the next time you criticise the €100k + CEO of a “human rights” NGO, would be the advice if that ever came to be included in the legislation.
And speaking of our old friends in the NGOs it is noticeable that although around 60% of the 51 submissions were from what might be broadly described as activist NGOs, few of the big hitters bothered to take part in the public consultation. Which might be interpreted not so much as a dereliction of their much vaunted “advocacy” role, but as an illustration of how soft power operates within the Irish state.
So while Ben and others are totally correct in highlighting the fact that the Government seems to have ignored the fact that the majority of individual public submissions were opposed to the framing of “hate speech” laws, that NGOs and others who have been pushing for them did not need to demean themselves in this manner.
The power of the NGOs and the left liberal establishment in Ireland is exercised through their ideological hegemony across the political parties including Sinn Féin. Labour, Social Democrats and the far left on most issues. They also set the agenda within the mass media, and other forms of public discourse.
Where they do not, they are actively attempting to restrict debate. Hence this Bill, and hence their hatred of Gript and other independent voices and their demand that we be shut up.
Finally, and ironically, while a significant number of the submissions supporting restrictions on free speech were critical of social media, and called for social media to be subject to greater restrictions, it is apparent that at least one of the main social media platforms is not only largely on board with the left liberal establishment here, but by and large takes its lead from “trusted partners” in “certain NGOs and “civil society organisations” which Facebook Ireland in their submission admit to having a direct input into censoring online opinion that dissents from the left liberal party(ies) line.
It was similarly telling indeed that one of the main reasons sections of the mainstream media – including the Irish Independent group which as Maria Maynes shows argued in favour of restricting the freedom of expression – defended their own support for the Bill was that several of their betes noir including Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Jordan Peterson retweeted their reaction to the Bill.
They did not mention Gript, but they did not need to….