Elon Musk has announced that his company, X (formerly Twitter), will sue partner organisations of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation (OSF) after the NGO network was accused of spreading ‘hate misinformation’ to justify an unprecedented crackdown on lawful free speech.
Musk made the statement in response to an article by journalist Ben Scallan, in which he claims that OSF-linked leftist NGOs are manipulating the statistics to show a steep rise in hate crimes across Ireland – despite the government’s own data indicating the opposite is true – and helping to usher in a new hate speech law that will restrict freed speech and open up new pathways for political persecution.
The article was reposted on X by Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger, who added: “The reason politicians and Soros-funded NGOs are spreading hate misinformation is to justify a draconian crackdown on freedom of speech.”
To this, Elon Musk simply replied, “Exactly. X will be filing legal action to stop this. Can’t wait for discovery to start!”
It’s unclear which OSF-linked groups Scallan is referring to exactly or which NGOs will be the target of Musk’s suit – although interestingly the self-styled “free-speech absolutist” has recently threatened to sue the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), having accused the U.K.-registered NGO of using flawed methods to promote “misleading narratives” and of running a “scare campaign” that has driven away advertisers from the platform. Although the CCDH – which is listed in journalist Matt Taibbi’s report into the organisations comprising the “censorship-industrial complex” – doesn’t declare its funding on its site, Companies House information shows it received almost £1 million in 2022.
Despite an Ipsos survey commissioned by Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth showing that over eight in 10 Irish people feel “very comfortable” living next door to people with different nationalities, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, religious beliefs (and non), or marital statuses, the most up-to-date Garda Síochána data suggests the country has actually seen a 29% increase in reported ‘hate crimes’ in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Of course, an increase in reporting is not necessarily the same thing as an increase in actual hate crimes or incidents. As Scallan points out, the discrepancy between these two data sets is partly if not entirely explained by the fact that Soros’s NGO network has for many years been running campaigns to lower the threshold for hate crime reporting in Ireland, while encouraging citizens to report hate crimes and hate incidents to the police.
In fairness, the Garda does at least acknowledge this, having conceded that a “very low threshold of perception” currently applies to hate crime reporting. Yet methodological sophistication of this kind has been curiously absent from proposals put forward by Ireland’s governing classes that argue for a new, allegedly desperately needed, hate crime law. In those proposals the distinction between perceived and actual hate crimes has all but collapsed: ‘increased reporting’ is breezily conflated with ‘increased crime’ such that for politicians like Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Senator Pauline O’Reilly the need for intensified state censorship of perfectly lawful speech that certain sub-sections of Irish society happen to regard as ‘hateful’ now seems entirely unproblematic.
This confusion isn’t just to be found in the debating chambers of the Dáil and Seanad Éireann. It constitutes the underlying philosophy of the country’s draft Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill, in which a hate crime is defined as an episode “perceived by the victim, or any other person, to have been motivated by prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender”.
As Scallan points out, under this definition, you don’t even have to be the victim of an alleged crime to report it. “A random bystander who has nothing to do with the event can say, ‘I think it was based on prejudice,’ and it will be categorised as such.”
By and large, of course, it won’t be “random bystanders” with a priggish manner, flapping ears, and a little too much time on their hands that end up weaponising this definition of what constitutes a ‘hate crime’. The real damage will be done by activist groups and George Soros-funded NGOs bent on criminalising perfectly lawful views that they happen not to like for doctrinaire ideological reasons.
“Will mocking memes be tolerated?” asked independent senator Ronan Mullen during a debate on the proposed legislation in the Senate earlier this year. “Will carrying a placard stating, ‘Men cannot breastfeed’ warrant a hate-speech investigation or up to five years’ imprisonment, a lifelong label as a criminal hater, and all of the stigma and life limitation that goes with that? Nobody actually knows.”
Nobody actually knows, no. But each of Mr Mullen’s hypothetical scenarios could potentially lead to a reported ‘hate crime’, which would then feature in the Garda’s annual reporting dataset, which would then perpetuate the myth that Ireland is becoming less tolerant, which would then lead to calls for even more draconian hate speech laws, which would then… and so on and so forth, in an endless cycle of intensifying state censorship.
Perhaps the most shocking of all the authoritarian provisions in the Bill that flow from this vague, entirely subjective definition of ‘hate’, is one that will make it a criminal offense to possess material on one’s person or in one’s home likely to “incite hatred”.
With regard to the obvious question of how something saved on, say, a mobile phone could possibly “incite hatred”, the Bill simply reverses the usual burden of proof in criminal cases, presuming “that the material [is] not intended for personal use”, and that a suspect must be planning to disseminate it, unless they can prove otherwise.
If passed, this provision will allow police to raid homes and seize devices, with a potential penalty of a year in prison and a €5,000 fine just for refusing to give up your passwords. Possession of hateful material will carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Despite many critics calling the law “Orwellian” and campaigning against it, the Irish parliament’s lower house adopted it by a vote of 160 against 14 earlier this year. The legislation now only needs the approval of the upper house in October to become law.
Dr. Frederick Attenborough is the Communications Officers of the Free Speech Union.