Elon Musk, Enoch Burke and freedom of speech

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has prompted a look at his views on freedom of speech. He been described in the media as a “freedom of speech absolutist”.

I am not sure what this means but presume he views the right to freedom of speech as one that is absolute-that is, without boundaries. Trump, of course, has welcomed Musk’s takeover of Twitter from the “left wing lunatics” that were running it.

He might also welcome an invitation back to the platform and be given back his megaphone for his odious, hate filled, misogynistic, xenophobic, narcissistic bile.

Enoch Burke, according to Mary Carolan in the Irish Times, will argue before the High Court that he has been the victim of an “egregious miscarriage of justice” and will argue that the High Court orders made against him have removed his constitutional rights to freedom of expression, religion, conscience.

No right is absolute. All rights are qualified and/or conditional.

Take a cursory look at the Irish Constitution, Bunreacht na hEireann.

6 1° The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality: –

i The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

All personal rights are qualified to some extent-for example, “no citizen shall be deprived of his personal liberty save in accordance with law” and “the dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with law”.

A person’s right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech is tempered and qualified by the right of another person to their good name, reputation, and against defamatory attacks and hate speech.

It’s ironic and noteworthy that Enoch Burke himself has recently  indicated in the High Court that he is commencing defamation proceedings against the Irish Independent/Sunday Independent/MediaHuis, the company that controls these publications.

Burke recognises that a person is entitled to their good name and reputation and not to be defamed.

Anyone who thinks the right to “freedom of speech” or “freedom of expression” are absolute rights without boundaries has the intellectual heft of a radiator.

I just hope Enoch tells Elon.

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