Elon Musk recorded a message for Twitter this morning concerning the Irish “hate speech bill” “This thing we should be concerned about is if the Irish Parliament passes a bill that defines hate speech as whatever they think hate speech is, people should be extremely concerned about that. You’re just at the mercy of the ruling party and whatever bureaucrats they put in place and they can just define something that really is not hate speech as hate speech just because they don’t like it.” But is Musk guilty of the same?
Musk was criticising plans by the Irish Government to combat hate speech which he has been known to in the past year and reposted that the proposed legislation is “a massive attack on freedom of expression.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 24, 2024
The Hate Bill
The Irish Government’s Criminal Justice (Incitement to violence or hatred and hate offences) Bill 2022, would certainly be a massive attack on freedom of expression. The Bill aims to tackle both incitement to hatred and hate speech, but as Elon Musk has said, it is a bill that defines hate speech as whatever they think hate speech is.
Therefore “hate speech” is relative, and it is political and undemocratic with the ability to silence speech that opposes any future legislation that the government proposes. We know how that can have extremely detrimental effects on the population.
Musk is even putting his money where his mouth is and has generously offered to fund the legal fees of Irish citizens who want to challenge the bill, “so we’ll make sure that if there is an attempt to suppress the voice of the Irish people that we do our absolute best to defend the people of Ireland and their ability to speak their mind,” he says. Source
The existing hate speech laws in Ireland date back to 1989, a pre-internet era, long before the advent of social media and undoubtedly there are areas now that were not considered during the drafting of the bill. The new proposals do consider the internet and arguably, that has given them the excuse they needed to criminalise communication or behaviour that the government wants to silence. Source
What the bill intends to silence is said to be speech that “incites violence or hatred against a group or individual because they are associated with a protected characteristic.” It says those characteristics are “race, colour, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation and disability”.