Two Garda policemen and a photo of protestors for the bill.

Irish Hate Speech Bill

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Updated Nov 28, 2023 at 06:36PM EST by Zach.

Added Nov 28, 2023 at 05:12PM EST by Aidan Walker.

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Overview

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.

Background

The bill was originally proposed in 2022, and in the summer of 2023, it moved forward into committee.[1] 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.[2]



Developments

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.[9] 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.[3]



Following the riot, the posts of MMA fighter Conor McGregor [8] were placed under investigation by the Irish police, garnering international press coverage over the following days.

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."[4] Discussion of the investigation into McGregor's comments sparked increased discussion of the bill among internet users shortly after.


Conor McGregor @TheNotorious MMA I do not condone last nights riots. I do not condone any attacks on our first responders in their line of duty. I do not condone looting and the damaging of shops. Last nights scenes achieved nothing toward fixing the issues we face. I do understand frustrations however, and I do understand a move must be made to ensure the change we need is ushered in. And fast! I am in the process of arranging. Believe me I am way more tactical and I have backing. There will be change in Ireland, mark my words. The change needed. In the last month, innocent children stabbed leaving school. Ashling Murphy murdered. Two Sligo men decapitated. This is NOT Ireland's future! If they do not act soon with their plan of action to ensure Ireland's safety, I will. Paul Golding ✔ @GoldingBF- Nov 24 Conor McGregor @TheNotorious MMA should call a 'Freedom March' in Dublin. Hundreds of thousands would turn up. The people of Ireland would be solidly behind him. #Ireland #IrelandisFull #Ireland BelongsToThelrish Phoenix Park 469 e City Centre 12:28 PM - Nov 24, 2023 21.3M Views

Online Reactions

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.[5] Libs of TikTok also posted about the bill on November 27th, earning 16,000 likes in a day on X (seen below, right).[6]


X Elon Musk X @elonmusk · Nov 26 Language being proposed as law in Ireland means this could literally happen to you for having a meme on your phone Sir Doge of the Coin X @dogeofficialceo · Nov 26 When you make a meme in Ireland II GIF 14K 48K 264K ₁53M 口企 Libs of TikTok Libs of TikTok @libsoftiktok Nov 27 "We are restricting freedom...for the common good" - Irish Senator Pauline O'Reilly on Ireland's "hate speech bill." The bill "restricts freedom" and censors views about other people's identities that make people feel "discomfort" and "insecure" Ⓒ 13 JUNE 23 SENAD EIREAN 0:29 SECOND STAGE From gript 3.6K Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 4.7K 16K ₁3.6M RIPT 口企

Meme makers also created memes about the bill, including a Trojan Horse Object Labels meme by X user @dogeofficialceo on November 25th (seen below), which earned over 3,600 likes in three days.[7]


"Hate Speech" Bill Suppression of the Irish people www Irish Government IMTIHON

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[10] 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.


MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN c The Federal Government is actively prosecuting memes #FreeRicky On February 10, 2021 @Ricky_Vaughn99 was indicted by the feds

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