To begin: freedom of speech is not a "God-given" right; no rights really are. We may hold certain rights to be "self-evident," but that is simply a comforting fiction derived from the American Revolution. Rights must be taken, not given and, once won, any attempt to nullify them must be resisted by (in the Communist Left's favorite phrase) "any means necessary." Among the rights enumerated in the American Bill of Rights is the First, which stipulates that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Nor are the enshrinement of rights in a nation's constitution any guarantee of perpetuity. Countries come and go; regimes change. The populace undergoes a philosophical and ethnic shift -- a quiet revolution -- and no longer feels any loyalty or allegiance to even bedrock cultural notions from hundreds of years ago. Constitutions become "living," which is to say, dead. Even nation-states like those of contemporary Europe burn their ways through multiple constitutions (bonjour, France, buon giorno, Italy!) or amend their constitutions so fundamentally that the document no longer bears any resemblance to its original self. Now it's Ireland's turn:
Justice Minister Simon Harris has defended legislation which updates laws banning hate speech and incitement to violence. The proposed law is expected to be enacted in coming weeks | More: https://t.co/h33xiUy4NY pic.twitter.com/q3FzJwQ5Nx
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 5, 2023
Having removed the Catholic Church from its privileged position in public life, the country's 1937 constitution has been considerably modified in the interim, with provisions allowing gay marriage and the deletion of prohibitions on abortion. Now the national legislature, called the Oireachtas, is about to pass a sweeping "hate speech" bill that, if ratified by the Irish senate, will have finally betrayed both the original Irish Constitution and the Irish people once and for all. The preamble to the constitution reads in part:
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred, We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation...
Well, our divine Lord Jesus Christ has been driven from the public square, the country seems to have no further obligations to him, and the sustained battle for independence through centuries of trial has been squandered for a mess of pottage and a couple of motorways from the E.U. The minute Ireland was forced to revote in 2009 on its prior rejection of the Lisbon Treaty and thus became "European" instead of "Irish," its goose was cooked. Today, Irish women are encouraged to abort their babies while at the same time the government is advocating a massive increase in immigration from Third World countries in order to address the coming labor shortages.
Meanwhile, the luckless unhoused natives get the back of the hand by a government who hates them, while at the same time Ukrainian "refugees" -- many of them able-bodied young men of military age -- are fed, housed, clothed, and financed at public expense and dispersed to towns and villages across the country, outnumbering the locals in many cases. And the anti-Irish government shrugs and says there's nothing it can do, because "it's the law."
As explained here before, the Irish electoral system is an international disgrace; its "ranked choice" structure not only encourages vote-rigging and -swapping, it demands it. Its multi-party system is in reality a parliamentary collusion between Tweedledee (Fine Gael) and Tweedledum (Fianna Fail), two ancient artifacts from the rebellion against the Brits and the Irish civil war. They're currently snuggled up together in a cozy power-sharing coalition racket that sees their titular heads taking turns as Taoiseach (the equivalent of a prime minister), while the important decisions are left to "ministers" like the hard-left Greens' vindictive, anti-energy watermelon Eamon Ryan (the "minister for Transport," of course). Ominously, there's now talk of a permanent fusion of the two major parties.
In a class by himself is simple Simon Harris, the face of the new "hate-speech" law. Harris is a college dropout of no discernible intellect, ability, or skills who wrecked the Irish national health-care system during his recent turn as "minister for health" and currently warms the seat of the "minister for Justice" while the real minister is on maternity leave. He's never made a living in anything but politics. That Harris was elected on the 15th round of vote-counting in his constituency really tells you everything you need to know about the state of democracy in Ireland, in which the minor parties don't stand a chance.
Massive attack on freedom of speech
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Under Harris' Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences Bill (an expansion and "updating" of a 1989 law), which given the supine, protective, and collaborationist nature of the Irish media flew under the public radar until recently), there are now ten classes of "protected" species -- all of them liberal darlings of course, including race, color, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, disability, membership in the "Traveler community" (formerly known as "tinkers") and immigration status. In other words, just about every observable characteristic of a human being. It's a list Orwell would be proud of, but it gets worse:
The bill also appears to take a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. "In any proceedings for an offence under this section, where it is proved that the accused person was in possession of material such as is referred to in subsection (1) and it is reasonable to assume that the material was not intended for the personal use of the person, the person shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to have been in possession of the material in contravention of subsection (1)," the bill states. While one section, "Protection of freedom of expression," appears to make assurances that some speech will be protected in exceptional cases, the wording remains vague.
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. Author and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson used the legislation as a warning for his fellow Canadians, "Coming your way, Canadians: Bill C-11 is just the beginning. This is where Ireland already stands."
Donald Trump, Jr., also took a shot at the bill, to which Harris, smug and smarmy as ever ,replied on Twitter: "When Trump and Musk have a different view to you, it’s not a bad day at the office."
There appears to be little chance of stopping this Brussels-demanded monstrosity. Having been passed by the Dáil Éireann (the Irish House of Represenatives), it moves to the Seanad, where it can be amended but not rejected, and then goes to powerless President Michael Higgins, whose only recourse is to approve it or buck it along to the country's high court to request a test of its constitutionality. But the diminutive, elderly poet, 82, is a raging Leftist, so the chances of that happening are very low, which means it is up to the people of Ireland to bring the contest directly to the Court, and to rally world opinion behind them.
Here's the current state of play. Read the whole thread:
The Hate Speech Bill is currently with the Seanad.
Here it can be amended but not rejected. Unfortunately this house hasn't power to do so.
However Senators do have the authority to remove sections pertaining to Speech. Effectively making this bill solely about "Hate crime". pic.twitter.com/prIfAbYeUG
— Free Speech Ireland (@FreeSpeechIre) May 5, 2023
Indeed, the only chance of torpedoing it now is international pressure, something the Eurocrats running the Irish state absolutely hate. In their minds, they're no longer culchies or even Irishmen, but sophisticated Citizens of Europe who know how to use a fish fork and perhaps can tell the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux just from the shape of the bottle. Musk's tweet in particular got their attention and shook them right down to their imported Italian shoes. Leo Varadar (a "Young Global Leader" in cahoots with Klaus Schwab's World Economic Forum), Micheál Martin, Ryan, Harris, and their dimwitted comrades make the confederacy of dunces currently in control of the U.S. look like Pericles of Athens and his ten best friends.
Writing a series of public letters under the collective name of "Cato," the early 18th-century British essayists John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon were among the fathers of freedom of speech. In their famous Letter No. 15 (often wrongly attributed to Ben Franklin), they wrote:
Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty, without freedom of speech.… This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech...
That men ought to speak well of their Governors is true, while their Governors deserve to be well spoken of; but to do public Mischief, without hearing of it, is only the Prerogative and Felicity of Tyranny. A free People will be showing that they are so, by their Freedom of Speech
Members of the Irish Diaspora, who number in our millions around the globe in places like the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, need to make our voices heard, especially those of us in the media who prize freedom of speech above all else. (Bill Maher, Andrew Sullivan -- are you with us?)
It's bad enough that the Irish who stayed home betrayed the heroes of 1916 by handing over their hard-won independence less than a century later. But to pre-emptively outlaw opposition to modish political policy in the guise of "combatting hate" and "preventing violence" is fundamentally evil. There are, rightfully, laws against incitement to physical harm and property destruction," but they must be specific and not imaginary. On the rother hand, there is no such thing as hate speech. There is only free speech, no matter how offensive -- and particularly if it's extremely offensive -- or there is not. And it's our job to defend it, not hide under the bed:
"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat," wrote the poet John Milton in his seminal 1644 essay on free speech, the Areopagitica. "Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary."
If this law stands (it can be repealed by a later legislature, but the time to stop it is now), it won't be the last imposition of censorship and thought-crime punishment in the formerly Western world. Other European nations, with no cultural ties to Milton and "Cato" and the First Amendment will quickly follow. The "rights" guaranteed to all of us via the British Enlightenment will be rendered null and void, freedom of thought and speech a distant, fading memory. Is that a world you want to live in?
Wonderful essay, Mr. Walsh.
If your not willing to fight to keep and protect your rights…
You Deserve None.
A wise man said..
I'm third generation Irish myself -- my surname not withstanding -- and I'll be making my umpteenth trip to Ireland in September to attend the international sheepherding trials. I wonder if I'll be able to speak my mind freely, without consequence? What effect will this have on free-wheeling pub conversations?
The European(Soviet)Union there needs for many to leave it
My wife and I have family in Ireland and have spent quite some time there. We are always surprised at how compliant they are when it comes to giving up their sovereignty to the EU. We’re told that “we used to be a third world country before the EU. “ It’s very surprising. The influx of migrants will destroy their way of life, and now they’re giving away their first freedom. Shame.
As a teen in the 70's I first heard the phrase in an Allman Bros song: "You can't lose what you never had".
Perhaps the Irish haven't had time to build on any freedom. However, they should'a learned by now that any EU appropriation is akin to Mob loan-sharking. It always costs much more than it's really worth.
Good and Hard incoming. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken