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Irish Hate Speech Law, also known as the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill or Ireland Hate Crime Bill, refers to a bill proposed in the Irish legislature that would mandate penalties for hate speech content that incites violence. In late 2023, the proposed bill received increased attention online following anti-immigrant riots in Dublin, Ireland and prominent figures like Elon Musk discussing it online. Concerns over the bill potentially making certain memes illegal or a criminal offense also sparked discourse on social media in late 2023.
The bill was originally proposed in 2022, and in the summer of 2023, it moved forward into committee. Members of the Irish legislature who supported the bill said it was necessary because Ireland did not have up-to-date hate speech laws and that there had been several incidents involving violence against LGBTQ+ people and minorities.
Critics of the bill, however, argued that its language was too vague and could be interpreted over-broadly, leading to a possible muffling effect on political speech in Ireland.
November 2023 Dublin Riots
On November 23rd, 2023, a stabbing done by an Algerian-born Irish citizen in which three young children and two adults were injured in the knife attack led to a right-wing backlash and riots in Dublin that night. During the incident, various cars were burned, stores were looted and several people were injured as clashes with police took place. Far-right misinformation and provocation online were reportedly an accelerant to the violence, with a Garda police commissioner saying it was a "complete lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology" behind the riot.
McGregor said he did not condone the violence in the post on his X / Twitter account (seen below), which received over 92,000 likes on November 24th, but on the day of the riot, he posted that Ireland was "at war." Discussion of the investigation into McGregor's comments sparked increased discussion of the bill among internet users shortly after.
On November 26th, 2023, Elon Musk notably posted about the bill, suggesting that it might criminalize memes, raking in over 264,000 likes (seen below, left) in two days. Libs of TikTok also posted about the bill on November 27th, earning 16,000 likes in a day on X (seen below, right).
Discussions about the bill following increased public attention in late November 2023 also spread to sites like Reddit. For example, on November 27th, 2023, Redditor MarsBarMann posted an article referencing the illegality of memes regarding the bill to the /r/europe subreddit. The post, titled "Ireland Hate Speech Law Would Make It Illegal to Possess 'Reckless' Memes," received over 1,400 upvotes and 460 comments in one day.
Trial Of Douglass Mackey
The Trial Of Douglas Mackey occurred in 2023 when the right-wing meme account admin was convicted in U.S. federal court for conspiring to deprive people of their right to vote. In 2016, Mackey worked with a group of influencers to spread photos and false announcements imitating Clinton campaign materials and telling people they could vote for Hillary Clinton by texting, with no need to go to the polls. The charges hold a possible penalty of 10 years in prison.
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