Editorial – The far right doesn’t care about freedom of speech. It cares about its freedom to attack people

Over the weekend far right activists gathered in Dublin to stage what they called a “free speech rally”. Worried about a possible change in Ireland’s hate speech laws — changes which would undoubtedly affect them — they took to the streets to voice their discontent. Their ire is directed at the government, anti-fascist activists, and NGOs. This unlikely conspiratorial trio has aligned to strip away the freedoms of Irish citizens and replace the population with migrants. At least that’s how the story goes.

The demonstration on Saturday 16 November was to show the intention to “Fight Charlie Flanagan and Fine Gael’s attempt to control what we can and cannot say”. Hate speech is referred to in scare quotes lest someone be under the illusion that it is something that takes place on a daily basis in Ireland. It’s argued that “No pretext is justifiable to limit speech”. 

But the constitution does in fact limit freedom of speech. It is quite clear in this regard. No matter. The gathered activists had decided to protest the government’s intentions because otherwise they might not be able to torment minorities in the coming months and years like they are used to. So let’s not be mistaken. Their protest was not about protecting their constitutional rights. It was simply a mob angry that they might actually soon be held to account for the racism and hatred that they spread. 

Members of Generation Identity (GI) were seen in this crowd. This is the same organisation which had links to the Christchurch shooter. Men in balaclavas were also videoed at the event. Other well-known provocateurs were present. This included one Irish YouTuber who has argued that the Irish will be a minority in the coming years due to immigration. He has previously declared:

The Irish are becoming a minority in Ireland. The Irish will be a minority in Ireland in the next 50 years. There is no doubt about it. 

He has also described the attempt to update Ireland’s hate speech laws as a step towards “totalitarianism”. This is because he believes it will be used to outlaw discussion of asylum seekers and direct provision, saying that “opposition to these plantations in your town will literally be illegal”.

So it’s not really fundamental freedoms that these people are concerned about. If it was they wouldn’t be so quick to attack those who dare to criticise them. Hence we see the shocking abuse doled out to anti-racist activists around the country. It’s instead about their ability to freely and wilfully spread misinformation, whip up hysteria about asylum seekers, and attract followers to their cause. Because what they really want is power. And if that power ever ends up in their hands we know what the result will be. History tells us all we need to know. 

Featured image via Twitter – Screenshot

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