Western culture has valued free speech as a necessary check on overreaching centralized power for centuries. Yet we're watching the ability to speak freely disappear before our eyes.
Imagine going to federal prison for a meme.
Douglass Mackey, also known by his Twitter name Ricky Vaughn, is going to jail for memes mocking Hillary Clinton back in 2016. He made fake memes telling people to vote from home via text messages. Mackey insisted in court that he was just sh*tposting. He didn't think anyone would be stupid enough to actually fall for it.
But never underestimate the power of stupid! At least 4900 people did call the prank number to vote for Hillary. The federal government did not find it funny and sentenced Mackey to seven months in prison.
What's happening in Ireland is even worse.
This is bad, but it's mild compared to what Ireland has planned. In November 2022, the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence and Hatred or Hate Offences) Bill 2022 was initiated in Ireland's legislature.
Section 10 (1) (a) states that a person will be found guilty of an offense if he "prepares or possesses material that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics with a view to the material being communicated to the public or a section of the public, whether by himself or herself or another person."