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Speech and HarmControversies Over Free Speech$
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Ishani Maitra and Mary Kate McGowan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199236282

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.001.0001

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Words That Silence? Freedom of Expression and Racist Hate Speech 1

Words That Silence? Freedom of Expression and Racist Hate Speech 1

Chapter:
(p.222) Words That Silence? Freedom of Expression and Racist Hate Speech1
Source:
Speech and Harm
Author(s):

Caroline West

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.003.0009

This chapter examines the prevailing assumption that the value of freedom of speech itself is necessarily only or best served by permitting racist hate speech. It is argued that anything worthy of the label ‘freedom of speech’ must satisfy three relatively minimal conditions, namely, minimal distribution, minimal comprehension, and minimal consideration. If racist hate speech silences other speech by interfering with its production/distribution, comprehension, or consideration, then racist hate speech may function to undermine, rather than exemplify or enhance, freedom of speech. If so, there might be a free speech argument against permitting racist hate speech. The chapter provides a novel framework within which such claims can be evaluated.

Keywords:   silencing, racist hate speech, free speech, race

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