How quickly limitations on free speech jump from the public square right into private homes, once police can be called over what comes out of people’s mouths.
That’s what is happening in Northern Ireland, where a judge has recommended abolishing “protected speech” in private houses on issues like race, sexual orientation, gender and faith – all topics that leftists seek to keep as controversial and divisive as possible.
According to the UK’s News Letter, Judge Des Marrinan is arguing that the “private dwelling” defense for speech must be abolished because people use it to shield themselves from prosecution for publishing freely online from their own homes.
Publishing what? “Hate speech,” of course.
Marrinan allowed that the Malicious Communications Act – used against Pastor Jim McConnell for criticizing Islam in 2015 – offered plenty of disincentive for “grossly offensive” speech without having to abolish the “private dwelling” defense, but is not an acceptable alternative because its legal terms are so subjective.
Current protections may stop police from investigating private discussions in homes even if they have “demonstrated hostility against other people’’ he said.
Asked how he would define a “private conversation” in order to protect it when such protections are gone, he said it was “not easy”.
The judge acknowledged that critics in England are highly alarmed about similar, recommended speech limitations there. ”Well I have read those concerns and I am afraid I genuinely find some of them to be rather alarmist,” he said.