Two days ago, Ireland had a referendum to remove the criminal offence of blasphemy from our constitution. It was an ineffective amendment, under which nobody had actually been charged in over 150 years, but there was a principle involved, and that principle is freedom of speech. Regardless of how ineffective it was, the fact is, Ireland still technically had a a constitutional amendment in place that in theory, put limits on our freedom of speech. So naturally, anyone who seriously values freedom of speech (which I do), was in favour of repealing it. Although turnout was rather poor, of those who did come out, a huge majority voted in favour of its repeal, suggesting that the majority support freedom of speech.
Or so you would think.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has welcomed the Yes vote in the referendum on blasphemy as an important step for free speech and the modernisation of our democracy.
I agree. There’s no place in any modern day, free society, for laws that place restriction on a person’s freedom of speech. I too, welcome this result.
ICCL campaigned for a Yes vote in this referendum and we have consistently advocated this change over many years. This positive result brings Ireland into line with international best practice in human rights, as called for by the UN Human Rights Committee.
Echoing the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention, we are now calling on the government to repeal sections 36 and 37 of the Defamation Act 2009 which define the criminal offence of blasphemy.
They’re coming across very reasonable so far, aren’t they? Watch how that changes in the next paragraph.
We are also calling on the Government to take immediate action to coordinate state bodies’ responses to hate- and hostility-based crime and to bring forward legislation to protect from hate- and hostility-based crime.
And there it is. They talk a big game about how they value freedom of speech, but really what they mean is, they value freedom of speech that they personally agree with. Within 24 hours of the result of a referendum, ostensibly in favour of improving Ireland’s freedom of speech, they’re calling for legislation that will make free speech even more restrictive, all while claiming to celebrate free speech. It’s a literal real world example of Orwellian doublethink.
Executive Director of the ICCL, Liam Herrick, said:
“During our campaign for a Yes vote, our guiding principle was respect for freedom of expression.
You mean freedom of expression that you and your organisation personally agree with.
However, we have also argued that the right to free speech is not absolute
No you fucking prick, the whole point of free speech is that it is absolute. Once you put restrictions on it, it’s no longer “free”. Therefore it’s not “free speech”. This is not a difficult concept to understand.
and should be limited to the degree necessary to protect people from hate- and hostility-motivated crime.
All crimes by definition, involve hostility. And the victim suffers the same, no matter what. It shouldn’t matter whether the victim is LGBT or straight. Black or white. Male or female. Native Irish or immigrant. Christian or Muslim, etc., etc. If they’re an innocent person, who has been victimised by a criminal act, they all deserve the same justice, for the same type of crime. Creating a victimhood hierarchy, were certain demographics, receive harsher sentences than others, or certain victims get more justice than others, is objectively a ridiculous and divisive way to do things. But of course, we already have the precedent from other countries, to know what this is really all about. it’s not about protecting minorities. It’s about punishing dissidents who speak out against the genocide that is being inflicted upon us.
Hate crime is something which is entirely different to blasphemy as it is directed towards individuals or groups, rather than ideas or institutions. There is no legislation in place to deal with hate crime in Ireland at the moment.”
And there shouldn’t ever be. There should be equally severe sentences, regardless of the demographics involved in crime. A black guy who beats up a white guy, should get the same sentence as a white guy who beats up a black guy. A Muslim who murders a Christian, should get the same sentence as a a Christian who murders a Muslim. And a person who expresses their personal opinion on Islam, and the people who follow it, should get absolutely no sentence at all, same as those who express their opinion on Christianity and its followers.
Ireland is obliged by European and international human rights law to have in place a robust framework to respond to and prevent hate- and hostility-based crime.
Yet another reason to leave the EU.
In April ICCL released a report which showed that Ireland is seriously deficient in addressing hate crime when compared to other EU member States.
No doubt, we’ll be falling over ourselves to play catch up, as quickly as possible. I can honestly see Ireland going “full Sweden”, the way things are going.
The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland shows that from the point at which a victim reports a crime to An Garda Síochána to the point at which a judge sentences an offender, the hate element of a crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process.
And I’ve still yet to see an explanation as to why it should be.
Though it won’t matter. You can be sure that the majority of our treacherous politicians, would be more than happy to oblige, and bring in laws that restrict our ability to speak out against what they’re doing to us.
Tough times ahead.