Government Accused of Pushing Hate Speech Thought Policing Laws

Government ministers have been accused of pushing for “thought policing” hate speech laws that could land people in jail for even possessing material deemed hateful.

Members of the Irish parliament have criticized the country’s government for wanting to implement a “thought police” regime in the European Union member state.

Under the proposed Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hate and Hate Offenses) Bill 2022, which aims to implement hate speech laws in Ireland, people found to be in possession of material deemed likely to causing hatred against protected persons faces up to two years in prison.

To make matters worse, while those found with illegal material may be able to claim that they had no intention of actually distributing the offending material as a defence, such a defense would require them to prove in court that they had no intention of distributing the offending material. problematic content.

Speaking in the country’s parliament on Thursday, the leader of the opposition Aontú party, Peadar Tóibín TD, described the proposal as an attempt by the government to impose “thought policing” on Ireland.

In particular, the leader of the party strongly criticized the country’s Minister of Justice, Helen McKendy, for wanting to censor people with whom he disagrees.

“For pluralism it must be possible for mutually opposing ideologies to coexist at the same time,” he said.

“The quote attributed to Voltaire ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ is a cornerstone of tolerance and pluralism and therefore cohesion within a liberal democracy.”

“Helen McEntee’s version of that quote is ‘I might not agree with what you have to say and I’ll put you in jail for saying it,'” he observed.

He also criticized the ease with which a judge could issue a search warrant against a person’s property so long as he was suspected of possessing “despicable” material.

Under the bill, as proposed, a judge at the district court level would be able to issue a search warrant against a person’s home if a member of the nation’s police service alleges under oath that there are “reasonable” grounds to believe there may be illegal material in the home. a person’s house.

“It is unbelievable that gardaí would have the right to search your homes on this basis,” he observed.

While a minority of TDs raised similar concerns to Tóibín’s, the vast majority in the Irish parliament expressed support for the implementation of hate speech rules, with some ruling party members in particular coming out in favor of rules that could see people to be imprisoned for possession of material deemed abhorrent.

Such a position appears to have seriously disappointed many free speech advocates in the country, with the Free Speech Ireland campaign expressing disappointment that most members failed to challenge many of the serious problems with the bill.

“We are disappointed that the main opposition party and the governing parties have failed to articulate any of the legal, political or philosophical concerns that we and many other groups have expressed in recent months,” a spokesperson for the group told Breitbart Europe.

“With few exceptions, politicians have taken a blasé approach to a debate that would deprive Irish people of their rights and freedoms,” they continued. “Our research experience is that the will to oppose this bill is far greater than the will to enforce it.”

The spokesperson went on to stress that the group will continue to campaign against the proposed legislation “until this bill is defeated.”

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