Senator Sharon Keogan — Full Rebuttal of Proposed ‘Hate Speech’ Bill

Full Rebuttal of Proposed ‘Hate Speech’ Bill

I will begin by saying there is no great secret about my opposition to this Bill but more than that, it is no secret that the vast majority of people in Ireland are opposed to it. We know that because the Government’s own public consultation was met with 73% of respondents opposing the Government’s plans to crack down on what can and cannot be said in this country without fear of prosecution. Most people would think that such overwhelming opposition to Government plans would result in them being changed or scrapped, but most people have not been paying attention. They know that in 2023, the Government knows best and the uneducated Irish public must be led by the nose and taught what to think lest their empty heads be filled with insidious far-right propaganda, such as perhaps Ireland has an upper limit on how many tens of thousands of people it can import. As such, the Government deigned to ignore the results of its consultation and ploughed ahead, making a prophet out of the author of one submission which predicted it does not matter what anyone says; the Government will do what it wants regardless.
The philosophy behind this bizarre behaviour is quite clearly that of an avowed nanny state. The members of our Cabinet and our senior civil servants do not view themselves as servants of the public at all but rather as enlightened and elevated individuals with a quasi-divine mandate to decide exactly how each and every Irish person lives his or her life.
In private recognition of their inability or unwillingness to solve the real and pressing issues facing Ireland, namely, housing and immigration, both of which are issues of its own making, the Government instead busies itself by mircomanaging the day-to-day experiences of ordinary people, deciding what cars they are allowed to drive, what drinks they are allowed to buy, what fuels they are allowed to use, what their children learn in school and now what ideas and opinions are allowed to be shared or what beliefs may be held or expressed in private. In this way, we see clearly the anarcho-tyranny described by Samuel Francis in the 1990s, which is the combination of oppressive Government power against the innocent and the law-abiding and the simultaneous grotesque paralysis of the ability or the will to use that same power to carry out basic public duties such as protection or public safety.
This proposed legislation is so broad in its scope and casts a prosecutorial net so wide that upon its passing, no citizens will ever be entirely sure if they are free to say what they wish to. The law contained within this legislation is so ambiguous and uncertain that one cannot but think that the intent is to create exactly this sort of hazy legal environment which forces individuals to err on the side of caution by self-censoring as they will never know what utterance of theirs might be reported as hateful.
Most laws are painstakingly drafted so as to isolate specific actions and single them out for criminal prosecution, taking great care not to mistakenly punish benign activities. This law does almost the opposite. It is hard to view the goal of this legislation as anything but the pursual of a nationwide chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of expression. If the Government wanted a legal basis to use its monopoly or force to punish anyone who would speak out against the prevailing narrative, it is hard to imagine what it would do differently to this.
In recent times, the Government has become fond of playing a certain card by saying it is sorry but its hands are tied and it must do something because of the EU. That is a ready-made excuse to wriggle out of accountability for everything from immigration to energy taxes. However, in this circumstance, the EU Council framework decision 2008/913/JHA does not go nearly as far as the Irish Government has with this Bill. The Council decision only targeted certain forms of expression of blatant racism and xenophobia. It was this Government that decided to add a nonsensical and circular definition of gender and to choose not to list “sex” as a protected characteristic, in favour of the meaningless phrase “sex characteristics”.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of bad law that comprises this legislation. I have drafted over 80 amendments to try to put some semblance of sanity and respect for civil rights into the Bill. The definition of hatred is circular. The definition of gender is nonsensical word salad. The very premise of the Bill is that some persons are worthy of protections and others are not, hence the exclusive list of protected characteristics. Someone who happens to be hated for something to do with their person that is not on the list is fresh out of luck; the characteristic for which they are being persecuted is not in vogue.

Credit to : Senator Sharon keogan

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