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.”
These incredibly vague and potentially broad offenses can land individuals jail time and hefty fines. The police will have the authority to search homes and confiscate devices under the new law. They could search citizens’ devices for offensive memes. Possessing movies with offensive jokes will be punishable. Will everyone in Ireland have to destroy their copies of Hot Shots Part Deux and Tropic Thunder?
As ridiculous as it sounds, this law is most of the way through the Irish legislature already. It had been facing some resistance from the public. Irish senators have been hearing a lot about it from their constituents. There had been some hope that the law would be heavily amended or retracted, but that was before the Dublin riots.
On November 23, a man in his 50s stabbed five people, including three schoolchildren, wounding one of the children seriously. He was an Algerian who had been in Ireland for over 20 years and had previous brushes with the law. He only stopped when a Brazilian Deliveroo driver jumped off his moped and whacked the attacker over the head with his bike helmet, enabling surrounding citizens to help restrain the attacker until the police came.
Public anger over this incident led to an outburst of rage in Dublin. Approximately 500 people participated in riots that involved looting, vandalism, and torching police vehicles. Thirty-four people have been arrested.
Rather than express dismay over the brutal stabbing, within a day of the riots, Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that the riots were proof that Ireland’s hate speech laws needed updating. He claimed that Ireland is only weeks away from passing the proposed hate speech legislation.
Varadkar’s not letting this crisis go to waste!
As if to prove his point, after Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor criticized the Prime Minister’s response, the Garda investigated him for online hate speech.
And Conor McGregor is hardly the only patriot getting in trouble.
Meanwhile in New Zealand…
Down in New Zealand, a government data administrator calling himself Winston Smith granted an interview to lawyer-turned-journalist Liz Gunn. In this interview, he explains how, upon analyzing data regarding medication administered in 2021 and 2022, certain patterns of mortality emerged based on which batch of medication people received. Some batches were associated with a 20% mortality rate in the weeks after vaccination.
Smith’s actual name is Barry Young, and he’s not an anti-vaxxer. He believed so strongly in the medication that he helped develop the software for tracking provider payments. Because New Zealand is such a small country and because they generally track data so well, Young was uniquely poised to have access to what batches of medications were administered at various sites. What Young found, after analyzing this data, made him so alarmed for his fellow countrymen that he felt duty-bound to go public.
Was he treated as the true public servant that he was? No. On Sunday, Barry Young was arrested for “accessing a computer system with dishonest purposes.” He was later released on bail.
Naturally, Young is being called a conspiracy theorist and a troublemaker. Initial reports from New Zealand claimed that he was just making things up. Young has since handed over all his data to American tech billionaire Steve Kirsch, who has made the data available for anyone to view. Numerous experts have looked at the data, which Young made sure to anonymize to protect the privacy of New Zealanders, and so far, they all agree that the data is legitimate. And terrifying.
The West is at war with free speech.
Western governments are trying harder than ever to attack any kind of political dissident as a far-right, racist conspiracy theorist.
On the one hand, this extreme crackdown on inconvenient speech is disturbing and upsetting. Barry Young should be treated like a hero, not put in jail. Average citizens should be able to discuss their frustrations with immigration policies without being automatically labeled racist. Anyone dumb enough to fall for a “Ricky Vaughn” voting meme probably shouldn’t be voting anyway.
But the fact that truth-tellers are getting personally attacked rather than engaged with professionally shows the weakness of the governments trying to implement these speech laws. A government afraid of its citizens telling stupid jokes online is not strong. If someone comes forth with a batch of data saying, “Hey, check this out,” and then gets thrown in jail, you better believe there’s something really interesting in there.
There’s hope, though.
Prepper sites tend to focus on negative trends. We want to be prepared, and being aware of negative developments is part of that. But we can’t focus so much on the negative that we get depressed, and watching how other people continue to resist can help us stay encouraged.
Conor McGregor recently outlined a plan to become president of Ireland. (Ireland has both a president and a prime minister, in case you were wondering). People are seeing the waves of support around populist figures like Javier Milei, and McGregor hopes he can similarly rally the Irish to clean political house.
McGregor’s not alone. Irish Senator Sharon Keogan likewise has been putting forth plans to fix Ireland’s immigration system, such as steeply increasing the fines for airlines that do not carefully scrutinize the papers of people coming through. Right now, the fines are low enough that bribing airline workers is relatively easy, but that could change. Irish people are willing to band together and are coming up with solutions.
We’ll see what happens in New Zealand. Figures like Liz Gunn had hoped that New Zealand’s post-Ardern government would have departed more from her draconian Covid measures, but those hopes may have been in vain. If Barry Young gets sentenced, he will be facing up to seven years of jail time.
Alex Jones recently hosted an interview between Barry Young and Steve Kirsch. Alex Jones may be controversial, but Steve Kirsch is a legitimate tech genius. There’s a Kirsch Auditorium at MIT. During this interview, Barry Young made some points that are worth emphasizing.
He called on other people with access to this kind of data worldwide to come forward. He points out that the data he safeguarded belonged to the people of New Zealand, not the government, because the people paid for it with their taxes. The numbers don’t lie. Young insisted that the truth will out, and the more people that come forward, the more quickly the process of redressing the harms done during the past few years can begin.
Barry Young also said that he never, ever planned to do anything like this. He hasn’t had a speeding ticket in decades and was about the most boring person imaginable up until this point. This is a man who never imagined himself as a hero. Yet when push came to shove, he tried to help the public by exposing an inconvenient truth.
And in the United States, people are fighting back too. The State of Texas, The Federalist, Consortium News, and The Daily Wire are all suing the US Department of State for conspiring with outlets like Twitter, Newsguard, and GDI to silence conservative and libertarian opinions in America. If you recall, GDI took away thousands of dollars per month in advertising revenue from this website back in 2020, and Newsguard has red-flagged us as a disinformation site because I refused to lie at their behest.
If we are silenced, we aren’t free.
I would like to think that most of us will never need to take such obvious risks for the sake of our principles, but who knows?
I do know that the more people speak out now, the more that we refuse to overlook the school closures, the ruined family businesses, the spike in excess deaths, and the general chaos of the past three and a half years, the harder it will be to implement anything like this again.
But what are your thoughts? Is free speech dead in the Western world? Why do you believe governments are so interested in shutting up the folks with dissenting opinions? What steps can we take to protect our rights?
Let’s discuss it in the comments section.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.