Does Freedom of Speech Include Hate Speech?

Res Publica 17 (4):385-403 (2011)
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I take it that liberal justice recognises special protections against the restriction of speech and expression; this is what I call the Free Speech Principle. I ask if this Principle includes speech acts which might broadly be termed ‘hate speech’, where ‘includes’ is sensitive to the distinction between coverage and protection , and between speech that is regulable and speech that should be regulated . I suggest that ‘hate speech’ is too broad a designation to be usefully analysed as a single category, since it includes many different kinds of speech acts, each of which involves very different kinds of free speech interests, and may cause very different kinds of harm. I therefore propose to disaggregate hate speech into various categories which are analysed in turn. I distinguish four main categories of hate speech, namely (1) targeted vilification, (2) diffuse vilification, (3) organised political advocacy for exclusionary and/or eliminationist policies, and (4) other assertions of fact or value which constitute an adverse judgment on an identifiable racial or religious group. Reviewing these categories in the light of the justifications for the Free Speech Principle, I will argue that category (1) is uncovered by the Principle, categories (2) and (3) are covered but unprotected , and that category (4) is protected speech



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A theory of freedom of expression.Thomas Scanlon - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (2):204-226.
Personal Rights and Public Space.Thomas Nagel - 1995 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (2):83-107.

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