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Cancel Culture is Back at DCU

The Dublin City University Debate society (@DCUDebate) was set to host a debate on March 27th, ‘Where Does the Blame Lie for the Arab-Israeli Conflict?’. Two days before the debate, featuring Clare Daly MEP and Prof. Mark Humphreys, it was called off by the society.

Although the society cited logistical shortcomings, emails leaked to FSI show university staff calling for the cancellation of the debate:

Mail sent to DCU Debate

Dear Society,

I am writing on behalf of a group of staff members across several faculties and departments in DCU. We learnt that your Society organised a debate on the current war on Gaza, to be held on March 27th, featuring four speakers. We would like to express our concerns regarding the presence of our colleague Mark Humphreys as one of the speakers.

In the past, our colleague has been criticised for jeopardising the safety and welfare of DCU students. You may not be aware that in 2021, DCU denounced a post written by this colleague on the anti-racist movement BLM, officially distancing itself from the words and views of this person (https://universitytimes.ie/2021/11/dcu-denounces-lecturer-who-called-black-lives-matter-nonsense/ ). DCU former student Ibrahim Halawa talked about how much this staff member impacted on his wellness and mental health (https://the-beacon.ie/2021/12/04/students-hit-back-at-racism-on-campus-as-dcus-mark-humphrys-feels-the-heat/ ). Our colleague has been at the centre of campus life for his opinions and views, and students have repeatedly denounced such views as “racism” and “Islamophobia” (https://trinitynews.ie/2021/11/op-ed-students-are-right-to-object-to-islamophobia-and-racism-portrayed-by-their-lecturers/ ). We respectfully wonder why a student society would want to platform someone who has been identified as problematic and damaging by other students.

While our primary concerns focus on the safety of the students, we also wonder if the framing of the debate actually reflects the reality of the data that we receive on a daily basis from Gaza and of the international law, or if it only serves the purpose of inflaming a debate which, we are afraid, will hardly be respectful.

We strongly believe in the transformative power of debating and thinking together, when the integrity of the views exposed and the safety of all participants are guaranteed. We do not think that this is one of those occasions, and we urge you to reconsider the opportunity of holding this debate in these circumstances.

Best regards,

Aisling Twohill, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Audrey Bryan, School of Human Development

Beatrice Scutaru, DCU, School of History and Geography

Caitriona Ni Cassaithe, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Catherine Baker, DCU Anti-Bullying Centre

Eamon Costello, School of STEM Education, Innovation & Global Studies

Eileen Culloty, School of Communications

Ellen Howley, School of English

Erika Biagini, School of Law and Government

Eugene McNulty, School of English

Faraj Elammari, Information Systems Services

Hussam Achour, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Jenna Harris, School of Theology, Philosophy & Music

Joe Usher, DCU, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Justin Rami, School of Policy & Practice

Maria Barry, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Marie Flynn, School of Human Development

Mathias Urban, DCU Institute of Education, Early Childhood Research Centre

Niamh Gaynor, School of Law and Government

Paola Rivetti, School of Law and Government

Peter Tiernan, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Ronaldo Munck, Director of the Centre for Engaged Research

Rowan Oberman, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies

Shadi Karazi, DCU Business School

Reply from DCU Debate

Dear Paola,

We are disappointed to have received this email from you and we as a society have lost respect for all staff who have signed off on this.

First of all this debate is about the conflict as a whole which as you have been keen in the past to remind people has a longer history than October 7th and the current Gaza Campaign.

You have expressed that you believe in debate and that this opposition to the event is purely due to opposition to Mark Humphrys. You and other colleagues were invited to participate or provide input and none of you expressed any interest in doing so.

The hypocrisy is shocking from someone who was happy to share a platform with Richard Boyd Barrett TD who has made many heinous statements regarding the conflict in Ukraine and a USI representative who at your BDS DCU event engaged in anti semitic language by saying and I quote “The presence of a Jewish student or academic legitimises the apartheid state.”

As a society we are committed to the free expression of all ideas no matter our personal views on them. To claim you believe in the transformative power of debate while trying to censor one is a questionable statement.

We had expressions of support from actual Palestinians on our campus for hosting this debate and believe it is not the place of those with little connection to the conflict to dictate how it may be discussed.

Universities are to be institutes of learning and the free expression of ideas as such we feel you have lost any right to our respect or to be called academics.

The DCU Debate Society Committee


This is not the first time Prof. Humphrys has been the focus of ire at DCU: after expressing opinions about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter on his blog in 2021, students and academics campaigned for him to be sacked.

Following the cancellation of the debate, an unofficial debate occurred on the 27th in a pub near DCU. Speakers on either side of the motion, including Prof. Humphrys, were in attendance, with the exception of Clare Daly. Further leaks revealed that the society’s activities for the rest of the year have been frozen. It is unclear yet whether those involved in the debate will be, or have been, penalised by the University.

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Restrictions on Freedom of Expression will Kill Democracy say Free Speech Campaigners

Free Speech Ireland held a public event after the launch of their ‘Bin the Bill’ campaign to combat Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, which is expected to make its return to the Seanad in March. 

The event featured contributions from Denis Hayes of Academics for Academic Freedom, Senator Rónán Mullen, UCD Lecturer/Assistant Professor School of Philosophy Tim Crowley, Laoise de Brún of The Countess, journalist Theo McDonald. 

‘NO FREE SOCIETY WITHOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH.’

 Denis Hayes kicked off the speeches saying how he is often asked to comment on the state of free speech to which he said he usually replies that it’s “dire”

Commenting on creeping encroachments on the right to free speech and expression he said that there existed a bad faith argument that if one stands up to defend this right they are doing so simply because they wish to ‘spread hate’ and not because they are motivated by a desire to defend freedom. 

He pointed to academic arguments in support of the protection of free expression saying that if one wished to fight against “so-called hate speech” the best way to do that was by using more and “better” speech to combat it.

There is afterall, he said, ‘No free society without freedom of speech.’ 

Denis Hayes

He said that the “ bottom line” of the argument is that any infringement on that freedom of speech “is always worse and more dangerous to our society than the most egregious abuse of freedom might be.”

‘Hate’, he said, should be resisted with free speech and not censorship,’ adding, “The very concept of hate speech is irreducibly riddled with ambiguity, conflicts and confusion” he said, adding that if you restrict free speech, “you’re doing away with democracy.”

“PROFOUNDLY DANGEROUS” HOW HATE SPEECH BILL WILL FEED INTO EUROPEAN LEGISLATION –  AND A “TACTIC OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICS”

Senator Rónán Mullen commented on the atmosphere within the Irish government saying that his fellow senator, Michael McDowell had said  that two referenda were being “rushed” through.

Mullen said that four stages of one referendum had passed through the senate in one day and that much of current law making was simply “the politics of gesture and symbol” over “substance and rationality most of the time.” 

He said it was “profoundly dangerous” how hate speech bill “will feed into European legislation” as a form of test legislation in order to see how freedoms could be restricted in this area.

Referring to the importance of freedom of speech he said, “There are also laws inbuilt in our nature that require the utmost respect,” he remarked, adding that, “one of these is freedom of expression.”

He said that since public debate had largely moved online, political discourse was no longer in the control of the mainstream media and that any law that attempts to limit online discourse could only be welcomed by legacy media outlets. 

Mullen pointed to the importance of the “right to offend” and how preported attempts to protect the feelings of certain people were in no way comparable to the importance of freedom of speech. 

He said that people had a duty to engage in discourse with each other and that in the absence of the ability to express oneself freely, this could not take place. 

Referring to government attempts to curtail freedom of expression he said, “It is a tactic of progressive politics, be they right or left, to seek to silence opposing voices,”

“Communism did that effectively, modern ‘woke’ communism seeks to wield similar power to deplatform the ‘oppressor’,” he added. 

Now “free speech is seen as an unwelcome obstacle,” he said. 

Mullen pointed to a 2022 “extensive campaign to promote awareness of hate crime” by the Gardaí which had only managed to collect  72 reports despite the campaign providing a very low-bar criteria for so-called ‘non-crime hate incidents; meanwhile in the same year there were 57,000 thefts and 22,000 assaults recorded. 

POSSIBLE IMPACTS ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM: STUDY OF GENOCIDE

UCD lecturer Tim Crowley spoke of the bill’s possible effects on academic freedom citing cases from abroad such as Perinçek v. Switzerland which is related to the contested issue of the Armenian Genocide. 

He said that the bill could lead to academics being forced to accept “state mandated” versions of historical events. 

Crowley pointed out how differences in laws surrounding speech meant that an academic discussing issues related to the Armenian Genocide had landed him in court in Switzerland while in Turkey and Azerbaijan it is both states’ position that there was no genocide. 

Tim Crowley

Pointing to the ‘mistaken belief’ that restrictions on speech could have prevented the Holocaust, – saying this was a view recently expressed by Fianna Fáil senator Lorraine Clifford Lee – 

Crowley spoke about how pre-Nazi Germany had laws restricting free speech and that the opposite was more likely true when historical evidence was taken into account.   

He said that Clifford Lee had claimed that “hate speech” had contributed to the Holocaust and by that token that the atrocity could have been avoided if restrictions on speech had been in force. 

He said this idea was an example of the ‘Weimar fallacy’ which is the idea that the growth of the Nazi party was enabled by a lack of laws restricting speech. 

“This is just not backed up by historical evidence he said,” adding that the Weimar Republic were “hardly sitting on their hands during the 1920s,” 

Crowley argued that historical laws restricting free speech had only served to allow the Nazis to appear as victims of state oppression and had fed into narratives that communists and Jews were somehow oppressing the “real” German people.

He pointed to Adolf Hitler ‘having been banned from speaking in public for two years in the 1920s’. 

GENDER-CRITICAL THINKERS DISMISSED AS “HATEFUL” AND THE ERASURE OF FEMALE-ONLY SPACES

CEO and founder of The Countess, Laoise de Brún BL, spoke of how the law was intended to instil fear and lead the public to self-sensor for fear of Gardaí showing up at their homes to search them and seize personal devices. 

Speaking of how online discourse was vital in efforts to speak truth to power she said that “cosy relationship” between journalism and source or power were shown to have grave consequences such as in the case of the reporting on the Bloody Sunday massacre. 

Pointing to the work of UK journalist Simon Winchester, de Brún said he was the only journalist who reported on Bloody Sunday “what he saw with his own eyes.”

Laoise de Brún

“Writing for The Guardian, he said that the British Army opened fire first, every other journalist went to their sources in the British military and said what they were told to say,”

She added that journalists “were censored top down, but there was also a self-censorship which is insidious, and which is often unconscious.” she said.

She spoke about how political establishments use control of narratives surrounding events to influence public opinion pointing to the 2018 example of when a group of lesbians held a peaceful protest of a London gay pride event. 

She said the Mayor of London has accused the women of ‘hateful conduct’ but that no questions had been asked as to why they were protesting or in what way their protest was ‘hateful’. 

She said that the introduction of the new hate speech laws was nothing more than a political “agenda being furnished” and spoke of the far reaching consequences of making it an offence to have “certain tweets on one’s phone” or “certain pamphlets” in one’s possession, even where neither have been made public. 

de Brún pointed to the media’s acquiescence to the belief that “trans-women are women”, saying anyone who understands that humans cannot change sex and questions this line is simply dismissed as being entirely motivated by “hatred”.

She said equality for women and girls is predicated on their having single sex provision in certain areas of life, “from intimate spaces, to sports, to shelters, to prisons.” and that the inability to enjoy freedom of speech would greatly impede on women and girl’s ability to defend themselves from the harmful effects of gender ideology. 

de Brún said that once the presence of trans-identified males was permitted these rights are erased because previously single-sex spaces became “de facto mixed sex.” 

“CHICKENS FOR KFC” – “EVERY SINGLE JOURNALIST IN IRELAND SHOULD BE AT EVENTS LIKE THIS,” 

Journalist Theo McDonald who has had articles published in The Hill, the Irish Mirror,The Sunday Independent  and The New York Post spoke of the bill having a “chilling effect” on free speech.

Giving the of example of the Wuhan lab leak theory for the origins of corona virus, he pointed to the writings of John Stuart Mill saying that because ‘nobody knows the truth there is a danger that censoring freedom of speech is censoring the truth,’

McDonald said that many narratives that were called ‘false’ during the covid era are now being accepted as being based in fact. 

“Recently the FBI and US Energy Department did confirm that covid did perhaps emerge from a laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, yet individuals who proffered this theory were silenced and called conspiracy nuts,” he said adding that “the idea anyone knows with absolutely certainly what the truth is and as such should be allowed to dictate the discourse is a fallacy,”

He added that this was “exactly” what the Irish state “feels the need to do”. 

He said that as a journalist it was his job ‘to engage in free speech’ and a situation where he had to worry about offending “woke overlords or other special interests” he would be rendered “literally” unable to do his job properly. 

“A lie today may be the truth tomorrow,” he said, 

Saying that “every journalist in Ireland should attend events like this,” he remarked that “the spectre of media commentators actually defending this bill baffles and enrages,” him.

He added,“It’s like chickens advocating for more KFC restaurants,”

This article is a repost from Gript.ie

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Press Release: “Bin The Bill” Campaign Launched

FSI Press Release Monday, January 15th 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

‘Bin The Bill’ Campaign Launched Against Irish Hate Speech Bill

Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is proud to premiere our new campaign, entitled ‘Bin the Bill’, to raise awareness about the Irish government’s looming plans for onerous anti-free speech legislation. The campaign has already attracted international attention from public figures such as Elon Musk.

Across Ireland our message will be displayed on billboards and social media platforms informing the Irish public of the threat that hate speech legislation poses to their right to free expression.

Sarah O’Reilly, CEO of FSI, said:

“The public needs to know about how this bill will affect them and their democracy. ‘Bin the Bill’ aims to do just that. We hope that when citizens take notice of what is happening, TDs and Senators will too.”


“The government’s proposed hate speech regulations are the single biggest threat facing free speech in Ireland today. Helen McEntee’s legislation threatens to criminalise individual citizens for the mere possession of material deemed to be offensive, even if they had no intention of sharing it with others if they cannot prove this to be the case. This innocent until proven guilty framework is fundamentally incompatible with the principles of our democracy.

Worryingly, this bill is likely to also impact freedom of speech across Europe and even the world, as it will make social media firms like X and Meta beholden to Irish censors. We have seen with the likes of GDPR how such companies will frequently apply laws passed in Europe to their worldwide user base. While we are encouraged by statements from digital leaders such as Elon Musk promising to protect free speech online, this bill nevertheless represents an international threat on numerous online platforms.”

As part of this media campaign, our spokespeople will be available for interviews and clarifications and can be reached at info@freespeechireland.ie.

Signed,

The Board
Free Speech Ireland
15 January 2024


Background:

  • Free Speech Ireland (FSI) is a free speech advocacy group founded in 2018 to protect the constitutional right to free speech against corporate censorship and state hate measures.
  • As part of its civil society outreach FSI has hosted events with multiple members of the Oireachtas, academics, activists and cultural events, most recently with our September 2023 conference “Ireland Uncensored”
  • The Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 (“the Bill”) is at the third stage of the Irish Senate and would give the state the right to seize personal electronic devices and prescribe prison sentences for those guilty of hate speech or deemed to be in possession of hateful material, even if they had no intent on distributing it. This could undermine the presumption of innocence.
  • FSI believes the Bill undermines freedom of speech in Ireland, allowing for individuals to be prosecuted for perceived hate speech on politically-motivated grounds. The perception of hatred by a third party could also suffice for prosecution.
  • FSI has been campaigning against the Bill since 2022,  demanding the complete withdrawal of this Bill. We welcome the implementation of greater guarantees for freedom of speech in Ireland. This is especially important as Ireland is the European HQ for many social media platforms. Laws that restrict freedom of speech in Ireland could impact online users globally.
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Event Announcement: “Speech Regulations in 2024”

Free Speech Ireland and Academics for Academic Freedom are proud to announce an informative evening on Tuesday, 23rd of January in Dublin City Centre. Speakers are yet to be announced.

2024 is set to be an exceptional year. Governments across the Western world are reviewing centuries-old rights in the face of the information age, and Ireland has found itself as a focal point in it all.

Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Book on TicketTailor

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The Very Important PUBLIC CONSULTATION on “MISINFORMATION”

Regular readers will be aware of the exceedingly high regard in which the Government holds public consultations, having paid witness to Ben’s scoop a few months ago in regard to the outcome of the public consultation on the hate speech bill. In that instance, despite some 70% of public responses running against the Government’s proposal, the bill proceeded anyway, in much the same shape as the Government had originally intended that it would.

And yet, readers will know that the revelation that the Government had so comprehensively ignored the balance of submissions on their own public consultation was an important story, and that it caused some embarrassment to those who rule over us. The hate speech bill now lies relatively dormant, while it awaits some official rationale for bringing a new and improved version of it back to the Oireachtas.

I mention all of this because the Government is presently engaged in another public consultation – and, like many such consultations, it is one that has been officially announced, but scantly promoted. A cynic might say that the Government is eager that all the right people know about this consultation, and that all of the wrong people somehow fail to notice that it is underway.

This particular consultation concerns what the Government should do about “misinformation” and “disinformation”. Or, if you are indeed a cynic, it concerns how the Government might further tighten the noose around the free exchange of ideas and information in Irish society.

The consultation is set out against the backdrop of five principles that the Government’s working group on misinformation recommended to be adopted. You can read all of those here.

Amongst those principles, principle 2 is of particular interest:

Promoting diversity and plurality of information and access to high quality ethical journalism by regulating and supporting the media sector.

“Regulating and supporting the media sector” is an interesting phrase, and one which should provoke serious concern amongst anybody who already thinks that the Irish media is, on balance, pretty compliant when it comes to covering the Government. The ordinary definition of the word “regulation” is pretty clear, and it seems entirely directed, in the context of “misinformation”, to ensuring increased control by politicians of the news and opinions that news media reports on. “Supporting”, one might fairly assume, is the carrot that comes alongside the stick: Those media outlets that are good and responsible will get additional funding. Those of us who are bold might not.

If this is something you have an opinion on, well, the public consultation is open until October 23rd.

But interest does not end with principle 2. Consider also principle 3:

New digital media and platforms can help to spread disinformation more quickly than ever before. Measures to counter this should enforce and incentivisethe lawful use of people’s data, ethical business models, and preventing digital platforms’ recommended algorithms from amplifying hate and hysteria in people’s video and social feeds for commercial gain

On the face of it, that all sounds nice and cuddly, but consider who it will be who gets to decide what “hate and hysteria” is defined as: Again, this comes down to whether you trust the Government to regulate what you see on the internet when you open your browser. It is the state seeking the power to in effect control the news that you consume, and ensure that “hate and hysteria” (however that might be defined on a given day) is not something that you see.

There is no earthly reason to trust the state with this kind of power, or to believe that such a power would be used in the public interest rather than in the political interest. Political debates – just witness the current intensity of the Israel/Palestine issue – tend towards heated rhetoric by nature. It would not be hard for a person with base motives to simply define the opposition or opposing rhetoric as hateful and hysterical, and in need of censorship.

This consultation needs to hear from the widest possible spectrum of views. I have made a submission to it, and I encourage all readers who are concerned about this issue to do the same. You can make your submission here.

This article is a repost from Gript.ie

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IRELAND UNCENSORED and the Hate Speech Bill

With a sold-out event and 100’s on the waiting list, it is clear that #IrelandUncensored was a momentous success. Despite this resounding demonstration from the Irish public,

Helen McEntee’s plans to push through the Hate Speech Bill when the Seanad resumes on Wednesday, 20 September.

Speaking to Gript Media our Spokesperson, Sarah Hardiman, had the following to say,

“ At the time when this law hit the Seanad, senators were very cognisant of the public’s concerns … Today’s event was about really making sure that come the end of the summer recess, that they are still listening to the public. ”

During a panel discussion on the Censorship Industrial Complex, Michael Shellenberger said that the Hate Speech Bill was “the worst law I have seen in my entire career of working on political issues”.

Laoise de Brún of The Countess provided a deep-dive of the Hate Speech Bill and the EU Directive “that apparently compelled the government to introduce this bill”.

She had the following to say about Section 10 of the Bill:

Gript’s Ben Scallan stressed the importance of raising our concerns with our political representatives, “when a politician knocks on your door […] make it known to them that censorship is something you’re worried about.”

The livestream of the event can be watched back here:

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Summer rain didn’t wash away Gov’s Authoritarian streak

‘Hate Speech’ Bill – Summer rain didn’t wash away the Government’s authoritarian streak

Over three months on and nothing seems to have changed. The ‘Hate Speech’ Bill is still on the agenda. The only people publicly supporting the Bill in its present form are Fine Gael (pointedly ignoring their youth wing), and the few NGOs who were complicit in concocting it.

Those supporting the Bill hide behind its ‘hate crime’ elements, rather than expose their draconian view on what constitutes ‘hate speech’ to the public glare.

Recall what that term currently means to Gardaí: ‘any non-crime incident which is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice.’

Is this to be the standard in 2024 for investigating, not to say hassling, citizens who have no intention of stirring up hatred or inciting violence but who, rightly, have every intention of making their views known on issues of controversy?

Of course, keyboard citizens are much easier targets than the real criminals night-prowling on O’Connell St.

This Bill is about silencing certain voices and will be used in that manner. Even if every prosecution is thrown out, people will have to endure the criminal process, including arrest and search, as a price to be paid for freedom of expression. The process becomes the punishment.

Looking at the UK we see the kind of thought-policing that we should not let into our country.

Ms Jennifer Swayne, who describes herself as a feminist activist and is disabled, was arrested in January 2021 following a search of her home  by Gwent Police who removed an “academic book”, “hundreds of stickers” and “loads of notes”. She had been reported for putting up stickers which were said to be directed at the transgender community.

In 2021 the Crown Office in the UK brought hate crime charges against a gender-critical feminist Marion Millar for sending allegedly homophobic and transphobic tweets. Then there are Caroline Farrow, Kathleen Stock, Jo Phoenix, JK Rowling –  all women suffering legal or professional backlashes for expressing support for biology as it really is, not as some oppressive fantasists would have it.

‘Poor Brits’, you might say. But only last week, parents in Dublin appeared reticent to express their view on a gender-linked classroom politicisation incident, when children in the school were instructed to refer to one of their teachers as ‘they’.

What kind of Ireland do we want? One where law-abiding citizens are cowed?

One where intersectional groups seek to use the law to create more divisions within our society? One where real haters can actually thrive because of an unpopular and oppressive law which may never work properly?

The Garda Commissioner knows and has said that the ‘far right’ cannot grow unless it is given oxygen. Haters exist and, sadly, this Bill, as drafted, will provide that oxygen.

The ‘Hate Speech’ Bill has garnered worldwide attention due to the threat it carries to freedom of expression. It has taken this attention to waken our legacy media up, even if they’re only slightly awake so far.

What could be effective now is a steady groundswell of citizen attention to the issue of free speech and the dangers of this Bill. Please keep talking to and emailing your public representatives and local media to help them see sense. Please let them know that YOU do not want your freedom of expression to be criminalised.

See https://ronanmullen.ie/news/ for a fuller analysis of the many weaknesses in the Bill.

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The criminal trial of Finnish parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen

“The criminal trial of Finnish parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola is underway before the Helsinki Court of Appeal….Both stand accused of “hate speech” for publicly expressing their faith-based beliefs.

Päivi Räsänen

“The parliamentarian of over twenty-five years, medical doctor, and grandmother, Päivi Räsänen, said upon arrival at the court: ‘Everyone should be able to share their beliefs without fearing censorship by state-authorities. I know that the prosecution is trying to make an example of me to scare others into silence. Yet, you do not have to align with my views to agree that everyone should be able to speak freely. With God’s help I will remain steadfast and continue defending everyone’s human right to free speech.'” [emphasis added]

“Regarding the booklet discussing Christian anthropology and homosexuality, which Räsänen wrote almost 20 years ago, the prosecution said: ‘The point isn’t whether it is true or not but that it is insulting.‘ The prosecutor also stated, that ‘the authors of the Bible are not indicted’ today, but that Räsänen’s use of the word ‘sin’ is ‘degrading’ and violates ‘sexual rights’.” [emphasis added]

Last year, Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola were cleared unanimously of ‘hate speech’ by a District Court, but the State is pursuing them nevertheless.

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5 Reasons “Hate Speech” Laws are a Poisoned Cure

Churchill famously quipped that democracy is the worst form of government with the exception of all other forms of government. Similarly, I would argue that free speech is the worst form of speech regulation with the exception of all other forms of speech regulation. 

“Hate speech” laws – legal controls over expressions perceived to be subjectively hateful – are not merely an ineffective solution for dealing with human hatred, they are a poisoned cure that will make Irish society sicker. Here are 5 reasons why.

1) Failure to Dissolve Actual Hatred

There is no evidence that “hate speech” laws will serve to decrease the actual hatred felt by individual human beings toward other people. Alternatively, Deeyah Khan, a Muslim woman of Afghan and Pakistani heritage, has shown a way of successfully dissolving hatred through fostering human connection. As has Darryl Davis, a black man of Christian faith who befriended Ku Klux Klan members and is responsible for hundreds of them renouncing their racist ways. Importantly, neither Khan nor Davis could have done what they did if the US didn’t have the sort of free speech protections that allowed the racists they befriended to openly express their views in the first place. 

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” So wrote Martin Luther King Jr in his essay, A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Unfortunately, recent years have left me feeling that the censors looking to silence “hate” do not care about love or have any interest in forgiveness. They care about control. This has left me agreeing strongly with René Girard when he described the reign of “victimism, which uses the ideology of concern for victims to gain political or economic or spiritual power.” Michael Shellenberger suggests that “Elites Manufacture Fake “Hate” Crisis As Pretext For Mass Spying, Blacklists, And Censorship. And Martin Gurri, in his insightful and prescient book, The Revolt of the Public, suggests that: 

“Their hope is to silence the public, not persuade it. Hillary Clinton ran for president on a promise to keep the deplorables in their place. Angela Merkel clings to office to suppress the secret Nazi inside every German voter. Europe’s hate-speech laws ban conversations that are offensive to the elites.” (pg. 336) 

“Hate speech” laws are moves by power holders to silence whom they seem to see as irredeemable rabble; these laws have nothing to do with decreasing experiential hatred, and have everything to do with tyrannical control of acceptable discourse by the regime. 

2) Predator Politics

Take whatever powers you want to hold over other people, and imagine those same powers in the hands of whoever concerns you the most. This is the essence of Predator Politics. 

Predator Politics is the opposite to Utopian Politics because it assumes the existence of psychopaths, narcissists, sadists, and other sorts of people who would be generally problematic should they gain power. 

Positions and tools of power are corruptible. This is obvious. In a piece for Areo Magazine about Ireland’s horrifying new “hate speech” laws, I offered Article 48 of the 1919 Weimar Constitution as a prime example of such corruptibility; this was the “trapdoor” through which Germany fell into Nazi control. Much deeper still, is that Predator Politics also recognizes that positions and tools of power can be corrupting of typically good people, and that every human being has the capacity for evil. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and all that. 

Exemplary of human malevolence is the psychic epidemic which has us denigrating or deifying entire groups: ‘All white people are racist and transwomen are women you far-right domestic extremist.’ The insanely puritanical and self-flagellating worship of identitarian hierarchies we are relentlessly assaulted with goes by many names including ‘Wokeness’, ‘political correctness gone mad’, ‘Rainbow Reich’, and the aforementioned ‘victimism’. Paul Kingsnorth has collected a few more descriptions from various writers: “Sermon on the Mount minus forgiveness, love and God”, “irrational cult”, and “authoritarian Utopianism that masquerades as liberal humanism”.  This ideology has resulted in “hate speech” laws which history has shown to be deeply counterproductive. In his great book, Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama described the fully counterproductive failure of censorship in preventing Nazis gaining power: 

“the fact that the Weimar Republic unsuccessfully tried to stem the tide of totalitarianism with illiberal laws of increasingly harsh censorship should at the very least give pause to those who demand that democracies today must also sacrifice free speech to counter organized hatred. So should Hitler’s use of Weimar Germany’s illiberal precedents to destroy the democracy they were supposed to protect.” (pg. 286-287) 

“Hate speech” laws are a prime example of Utopian Politics: a form of politics which assumes that serious villains amongst us (or within us) will never gain control of dangerous structures. Predator Politics is realistic and pragmatic whereas Utopian Politics is idealistic and idiotic. ‘Ou’ ‘topos’, after all, literally means ‘no’ ‘place’

3) Infantilization of Protected Groups

As a child, I was taught that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. At the time, however, names hurt very much indeed: I was fat, had a disproportionately large head, and was awful at soccer, all of which provided seemingly endless material to the ruthless abusers in my housing estate. But this did not mean the adults who insisted on the difference between physical and verbal abuse were wrong: I was simply a child. 

And when it comes to such a child’s understanding of the world, I have absolutely no reason to suspect that individuals in “protected” groups are weak and pathetic and in need Devouring Mother style shielding from “hate speech” that may cause “deep discomfort”. Being black or gay or Muslim does NOT make someone a fragile infant in need of mollycoddling by Therapeutic Technocratic Totalitarians.  As human beings, individuals within “protected” groups are endowed with the same dignity and capacity for resilience as anyone else. 

Here, hard as it is, I must lead by example and find it in my heart to love and forgive these victimist censors. King, in continuing the passage quoted above, clearly described why I must do this:  

“Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says ‘Love your enemies,’ he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” (pg. 17) 

“Love your enemies”. It is hard to imagine a more necessary yet radically challenging command.  

4) No Consent Without Dissent

Directly, “hate speech” laws present a danger to political freedom because the legal and social precedent of punitively controlling human expression could be exploited by cold-blooded tyrants looking to shut down political dissent—just as the Soviet Union desired with their own championing of “hate speech” laws. Indirectly though, important discourse about spicy topics could be suppressed from the bottom up as people self-censor. Thanks to our vast importing of impossibly stupid identity politics from across the Atlantic ocean, we already experience this.

What are we to make of the bizarre stigma encountered when questioning reckless immigration policy even though Ireland has an “unprecedented” housing crisis which is forcing 70-75% of its young adults to consider leaving the country? And housing shortages aside, there is another aspect of immigration that has been made forbidden to discuss by proponents of identity politics based victimism: the very real difficulty of integrating large amounts of people with extremely different views on how society should function. France for instance, recently looted and ablaze, has seen the highest rates of Islamist violence in the EU including teachers decapitated and journalists shot dead because of images that Islamists didn’t like. What then of the cultish gender ideology that hormonally destroys and surgically mutilates vulnerable and often mentally ill children while putting dangerous males into women’s prisons? Given that topics like these require vigorous open discussion, does Ireland really need top down suppression of expression through “hate speech” laws which Toby Young has called “a terrifying form of secular authoritarianism”, and Helen Joyce has described as “literally Orwellian”? 

If we cannot have the open inquiry and free exchange of ideas necessary for functional dissent, we cannot offer informed consent to policies or to the all-too-human politicians who make them. German dissident writer, Eugyppius, cheekily described the monocultural state of much of the West with dreadfully accurate cynicism: 

“Democracy is when you want what the late-stage liberal system wants to give you, and the system gives it to you. If you don’t want what the system wants to give you, your preferences are undemocratic and the system gives it to you anyway. You’re free to protest the things the system hates, but if you protest the system or any of its agenda, that’s undemocratic and you’ll be water cannoned to protect democracy. You’re free to believe in the principles espoused by late-stage liberal democratic politicians, but if you dispute them, you’re a danger to the free world and should be arrested.” 

There is no consent without dissent. A state is totalitarian, by definition, if there are certain questions we are not allowed to ask and certain views we are not allowed to express. 

5) Freedom from Tyrants

Freedom of speech is foundational to human freedom more generally. Don’t believe me? Ask the Shia Muslims executed by government headcutters in Saudi Arabia. Ask the women’s rights protesters viciously persecuted by tyrants in Iran. Ask the Uyghur Muslims persecuted in China for having wrongthink on their phones while their brethren seem to have been forced into labour camps and butchered through murderous organ harvesting by the Communist Party. Ask Salman Rushdie

The fact that free speech is central to resisting political oppression is to be found nowhere more clearly than in the opinions of those who have lived under it. In a brilliant 2022 essay for Foreign Affairs, Jacob Mchangama drew on direct quotations to illustrate the importance of free speech to major pro-democracy leaders of the 20th century: India’s Mahatma Gandhi, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Havel, and Poland’s Lech Walesa. Free speech is also, of course, absolutely fundamental for people living under the boots of tyrannical regimes currently: 

“The importance of free speech in the digital space is clear to embattled pro- democracy activists in places such as Belarus, Egypt, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Russia, and Venezuela, where they depend on the ability to communicate and organize— and to the regimes of these countries, which view such activities as an existential threat.”

Should the fact that brutally oppressive regimes require censorship and suppression of heterodox viewpoints not incentivize us toward doing the exact opposite? If only. Mchangama describes how the informational policing in our own “liberal democracies” are making things worse for pro-democracy activists elsewhere: 

“And when liberal democracies pass censorship laws or when Big Tech platforms prohibit certain kinds of speech or bar certain users, they make it easier for authoritarian regimes to justify their repression of dissent. In this way, democracies and the companies that thrive in them sometimes unwittingly help entrench regimes that fuel propaganda and disinformation in those very same democracies.” 

Hatred exists but “hate speech” laws are a poisoned cure that will only serve to stifle important discourse, divide us ever further into conflicting identity groups, and better equip predatory people in positions of power to consolidate their control over the Irish public. Freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to say things some people might find hateful, is the least bad option from a menu of entirely bad options. The challenge of maintaining a free society is gritty and confronting. Get over it. Hate, after all, cannot drive out hate. 

Ciarán O’Regan is an Irish physical culturalist and curious generalist. His Substack is Quarrelsome Life, his Twitter is @quarrelsomelife, and he co-hosts the Learning to Die Podcast with Dr Ian Dunican.

Categories
Announcements

FSI & Gript Announce Major Event

SAT 16 SEP, 12:30 – 17:00

CONCERT HALL, RDS, DUBLIN 4

With the government’s recently published “Hate Speech” Bill proving to be the most controversial piece of legislation in recent Irish history, many are deeply concerned over the state of free speech and encroaching censorship in our country.

In response to this legislation, Free Speech Ireland and Gript invite all to attend a conference and seminar featuring a variety of expert speakers who will explain why this censorship is happening, where it is coming from, and what we can do to defeat it.

Speakers include:

  • Michael Shellenberger – Author and Public Relations Professional
  • Niall Boylan – Radio Presenter and host of The Niall Boylan Podcast
  • Helen Joyce – Author and Journalist
  • Kevin Sharkey – Artist and former TV Presenter
  • John McGuirk – Editor of Gript
  • Senator Sharon Keogan – Irish Independent Senator
  • Ben Scallan – Broadcaster for Gript

More speakers to be announced.

Doors open at 12:30pm with event set to conclude at 5pm.

Freedom of Speech is a human right fundamental to the functioning of any true democracy, all attempts to take this right away must be emphatically rejected.

LOCATION

Concert Hall, RDS, Dublin 4

BUY TICKETS HERE

https://www.tickettailor.com/events/freespeechireland/979702