In recent months, Ireland has become a battleground for a heated debate surrounding proposed “hate speech” legislation that will infringe on citizens’ free speech rights.
5 Scariest Things about the Irish Hate Speech Bill pic.twitter.com/C5bs7zBQEG— Free Speech Ireland (@FreeSpeechIre) May 25, 2023
The Criminal Justice Bill, which leftist Interim Justice Minister Simon Harris is attempting to push through, targets speech under a very broad scope. The bill’s inclusion of “protected characteristics,” such as LGBTQ+ identity, can lead to legitimate criticism or discussion on these topics to be unjustly criminalized.
In fact, Irish reporter Gary Kavanaugh of Gript.ie, noted in a recent tweet that the legislation “would make it a crime to repeatedly look at a building if you do so with the wrong intent.”
Ultimately, if passed, this infringement will undoubtedly stifle intellectual debate, hinder the exploration of complex social issues, and impede the progress of freedom in the world as a whole.
Freedom of speech and expression must be safeguarded, even when it involves so-called “controversial opinions.” After all, many of the mainstream conservative beliefs that are completely in alignment with common sense – such as the basic fact that men and women are different – are now considered “hate speech” by the Left, in the United States and abroad.
Instead of criminalizing “hateful” speech, the only reasonable solution is to foster an environment where diverse perspectives can be openly discussed and challenged.
Not only is the Criminal Justice Bill an assault on common sense and intellectual diversity, but it is also a potential infringement on religious freedom. The bill’s vague language and lack of clear exemptions for religious worship and discussion raise concerns that religious teachings, particularly those pertaining to contentious topics such as sexual morality, could be targeted for prosecution.
Prosecution for violations of the legislation will take a “guilty until proven innocent” approach. This reversal of the burden of proof goes against fundamental principles of justice and fair legal proceedings. According to Free Speech Ireland, an advocacy organization on the front lines of the fight for freedom in the Emerald Isle, “violators” may face up to five years in prison for engaging in “reckless communication.”
“We are witnessing the codification of identity politics into our speech laws,” Sarah Hardiman, spokeswoman for Free Speech Ireland, told Young America’s Foundation. “To say the least, this is a dangerous infringement on our personal, civil and human rights,” she continued.
Hardiman also noted that major social media platforms, including Twitter, Reddit, Meta, and LinkedIn, base their European operations out of Dublin, which can result in the proposed legislation impacting users internationally.
Free Speech Ireland and Gript are the few outlets in Ireland standing up for free speech. Recognizing that young people are uniquely situated to stand up against this Orwellian legislation, Young America’s Foundation will sponsor a delegation of Irish students to attend this summer’s National Conservative Student Conference in Washington, D.C.
The students will have the opportunity to hear from nearly 30 prominent conservative figures including women’s rights icon Riley Gaines, pro-life activist Lila Rose, Venezuelan freedom fighter Daniel DiMartino, and many more.
YAF believes that the training and inspiration these Irish students will receive at NCSC will equip them to return to their country fully prepared to stand up for the fundamental human right to free speech and expression.