Minister of Justice Helen McEntee Cabinet secured approval on Tuesday to seek support from TDs and senators for an initiative designed to turn hate crimes and hate speech into offenses. punishable at EU level. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s tempting to say. Hate speech and hate crimes are reprehensible pursuits.
Of course, his problems arise when it comes to determining what constitutes a hate crime or is considered hate speech. Who decides? Who enforces it?
Equally important, how strong enforcement can be reconciled with the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which recognizes that freedom of expression includes “the freedom to and communicate information and ideas without interference from public authorities and regardless of frontiers”?
It is comforting to think that there has been a close discussion of these matters by the Cabinet, but who are we kidding? This is a measure that the European Commission has sent to member states to apply in order to protect “European values”. Irish WOODIndignation is never capable of causing protests. It just wants to rubber stamp measures to further strengthen its credibility with EU partners. Again, what’s wrong with that? Maybe nothing. But is it necessary? As the European Union itself acknowledges, “any form of discrimination, based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or creed, disability, age or sexual orientation” prohibited by European Union and national legislation. So why do they need these extra powers?
These days, people often talk about the Internet, which has the ability to cross national borders without permission and remain stubbornly indifferent to political efforts to control it.
Politicians don’t understand the internet. More than that, they fear it.
The attorney general’s proposal has led to numerous complaints from TDs such as Neale Richmond of Fine Gael, who told Dáil last week about abuse he regularly goes online and that makes his wife how annoying.
Richmond could be the target of some abuse – who on social media isn’t? – but not because of his “gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or creed, disability, age or sexual orientation”. That’s because he’s constantly tweeting about Brexit.
What happened to the wise advice: “Don’t feed the trolls”?
Richmond even stated he was upset about the existence of the hashtag #IStandWithPutin. What does he want – an anti-hashtag border force in Europe?
It is entirely possible to be horrified by hate speech and hate crimes without trusting one of these people to define, much less give them the right to regulate, free speech.
Thin-skinned people should never have the final say on what can and cannot be said. They will always use it to silence ideas they don’t
like defamation and censorship laws have been used in the past to silence uncomfortable views of those in power. That is why, as McEntee said in the Dáil, “we have a tradition of caution” about limiting what can be said publicly. With good reason. Because it’s generally a terrible idea.
Still politicians keep coming back to try again. In 2015.
That just annoys someone can suddenly be an offense so vague as to set off alarm bells; but here we are back to square one, now with stronger support from the European Commission.
There is one part of the EU initiative that can concur, and that is when it states that “hate is going mainstream, targeting individuals and groups who share or are perceived to have in common.” a characteristic”, including “ethnicity (and) nationality”.
However, the most obvious example in recent days is being actively promoted at the highest political level. Such was the hatred that poured out upon all Russians for the actions of Vladimir Putin, that the music of centuries-old Russian composers was excluded from concert programs for fear the audience might react. violent response.
Reuters actually reported last week that Facebook and Instagram had temporarily lifted their bans on violent speech to allow people to freely refrain from killing Russian enemies and allowing praise of far-right groups like the brigade. Azov of Ukraine.
In the context of war that is brutally killing innocent civilians, this is understandable. But it is still possible to be disturbed by the reshaping of collective punishment as an ethical act, or worry that it could be extended in the future to other groups seen as nothing to worry about. .
It is dangerous to make sweeping decisions when passion is at a high level, and debate is growing around big issues like whether to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine or give up on independence. Ireland’s military neutrality was underway under a cloud of shifting emotions. than reason.
We are increasingly urged to be angry with certain groups – the unvaccinated one day, ordinary Russians the next – while making a great game of tackling extremism. .
Everyone knows who will actually be targeted by new hate speech initiatives. Those are the people who refuse to go with what Senator Sharon
Keogan, in response to a proposal from the attorney general in Seanad, called “the awakening theocracy punishing citizens who dare to oppose modern day progressive, secular dogmas”.
Instead of us “letting ideas live or die according to their merits,” Keogan suggests, instead of trying to support ideas we don’t like out of existence, either way. failure.
It is better to spread slander and fake news online than to hand control freedom of speech to transient politicians who don’t appreciate it.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/thin-skinned-leaders-threaten-our-freedoms-41440388.html Thin-skinned leaders threaten our freedoms