Hate speech, hate crimes and hateful thoughts are at the centre of current thinking in official Ireland and things are progressing apace on this front in recent days. The most important change is the Garda Síochána Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019-2021. This strategy is essentially a Soviet-style diktat which proclaims their new working definition of a “Hate Crime” and of “non-crime hate incidents”. It’s a nightmare, and provides an ominous indication of the state’s intent.

1.      It criminalises “non-crimes”.

A “non-crime hate incident” is defined as one “which is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.” Such incidences are then to be recorded on the Garda Pulse database.

In the past Garda representative groups and the force’s own FAQs have said that dealing with non-crime issues is a nuisance that they are forced to endure only because the appropriate agencies aren’t available during the middle of the night. The decision to collect data on non-crime hate incidents places such incidents in the category of public immorality, and not within the strict realm of the law. 

Perhaps no law has been broken (the thinking goes) – but you can’t simply behave like that in public, so I’m writing down your name and putting you in our tracking database. Anyone who has worked in a bureaucracy will be familiar with the iron law that what gets measured gets done, so the chance that this data will simply be collected and used as merely a reference point is zero.

2.      It has been designed by groups with a material interest in the growth of the hate crime industry.

Is the increased reporting of, and focus on, hate crimes good or bad for the financial and social fortunes of a politically correct quango like ENAR? If you could conclusively prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that hate crimes don’t happen – would that bode well or ill for their future? Do you think, for balance, Gardaí sought out any organisations or groups or people who believe that the expansion of hate crime arrests, or the recording or non-crimes, is legal overreach and an infringement upon Irish people’s freedom?

Contributors aren’t listed, but the document states that Gardaí have adopted this approach following conversations with “respected academics […] government organisations, non-government organisations and civil society organisations”. It is therefore not the product of disinterested parties with a range of views hashing out what, if anything, needs to be done about ‘Hate Crime’. It is instead the product of people whose livelihoods depend on the existence and growth of hate crimes, hashing out how best to connect those interests to the letter of the law.

3.The express purpose is to greatly increase the reporting of hate crimes, no matter what.

“A significant focus of this strategy over the next three years is aimed at enhancing the identification, reporting, investigation and prosecution elements of hate crime […] it is accepted that there currently exists an underreporting of crimes against marginalised and minority groups […] This strategy should result in increased reporting of hate crimes which must be regarded as a positive outcome […] Outcomes: […] Analysis of hate crime trends and patterns to dictate future policing responses.”

In the past I used Coleman Hughes’ term “The Racism Treadmill” to describe the natural tendency of these types of approaches to self-perpetuate, indefinitely. The new Garda Strategy is a ‘Hate Crimes Treadmill’ – the document itself admits that as its purpose. Consider what the quote above really says: a group of bodies who have a practical interest in the growth of ‘Hate Crime’ reporting have developed a framework that guarantees more ‘Hate Crimes’ will be reported. That pre-determined increase in reporting will be relayed to the public and will dictate “future policing responses” – that is, more resources to fight ‘Hate Crimes’. What will those increased resources discover? More ‘Hate Crimes’ of course. 

Here, as is often the case, Gardaí will be expected to use valuable time to fix the ‘flaws’ of a society by focusing on the most visible point of state-individual interaction. It must be very dispiriting to be in a blue uniform these days. But the real people to feel sorry for are us, the Irish public, as we are drawn into a hall of mirrors where something can only be a crime if the right type of person says it is.There are two chinks in the armour of what is proposed. The first is that, as Saul Alinsky teaches, a rulebook can be turned against its authors by using it in legitimate ways that they didn’t intend. You and I need to use these rules too, and often. The second is, as with all acts of social engineering, the flaws become undeniable when you ask the vital questions: “Why do we want to do this?”, “For whose benefit?”, and “Where does it end?”. Do both. We have an obligation to resist this.

Posted by Conor Fitzgerald

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