Irish Citizens Could Soon Be Jailed for ‘Possessing Material Likely to Incite Violence or Hatred’
Alexander Hull, Fox News, May 3, 2023
A bill currently being considered by the Irish government could jail citizens for merely possessing material that criticizes certain protected characteristics, ranging from gender identity to national origin.
The Irish Criminal Justice Bill is supposed to target “hate speech” but some critics have compared it to the concept of punishing people for “thoughtcrime,” a term popularized by George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
The text of the “Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022,” notes that a person can be imprisoned if they “prepare or possess” material that is “likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics with a view to the material being communicated to the public or a section of the public, whether by himself or herself or another person.”
The bill includes a variety of “protected characteristics” that one can be prosecuted for criticizing, including, race, color, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, or disability.
But major critics on Twitter were not convinced the bill would protect free speech in the slightest.
“Massive attack on freedom of speech,” Twitter CEO Elon Musk observed in a tweet.
The legislation may also lead to the imprisonment of Irish people wary of mass migration.
The bill states, “Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.”
One of the punishable crimes relating to “xenophobia” is merely “the commission of an act referred to in point (a) by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material,” which can roughly apply to political pamphlets criticizing the influx of immigrants and refugees in Ireland.