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Extreme Speech and Democracy$
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Ivan Hare and James Weinstein

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199548781

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548781.001.0001

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The Danish Cartoons, Offensive Expression, and Democratic Legitimacy

The Danish Cartoons, Offensive Expression, and Democratic Legitimacy

(p.311) 16 The Danish Cartoons, Offensive Expression, and Democratic Legitimacy
Extreme Speech and Democracy

Ian Cram

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a legal and constitutional examination of the legitimacy of ‘offence’ as a ground for limiting expression by the coercive force of law. It sets out to tackle a number of questions. First, it discusses the likely outcome of a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights to national authorities' restrictions on expressive activities, where those restrictions rest on the claim that the expression in question does or is likely to cause offence to genuinely held religious beliefs. It discusses some reasons in favour of tolerating offensive expression, including what for many is the least deserving form of offensive expression, namely, ‘gratuitously offensive’ speech. Finally, some issues around the outer limits of offensive expression are explored.

Keywords:   Denmark, Islam, political speech, freedom of speech, offensive speech

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