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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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Hate Speech

Hate Speech

(p.123) 7 Hate Speech
Extreme Speech and Democracy

Robert Post

Oxford University Press

The OED teaches us the connection between hate speech and the overall theme of this volume, Extreme Speech. ‘Hate,’ is considered ‘an emotion of extreme dislike or aversion; detestation, abhorrence, hatred.’ A draft OED addition of December 2002 defines ‘hate speech’ as ‘speech expressing hatred or intolerance of other social groups, especially on the basis of race or sexuality.’ To prohibit hate speech, then, is to forbid expression of ‘extreme’ intolerance or ‘extreme’ dislike. The qualification ‘extreme’ is prerequisite because intolerance and dislike are necessary human emotions which no legal order could pretend to abolish. This chapter addresses the question of when do these otherwise appropriate emotions become so ‘extreme’ as to deserve legal suppression. It shows that Europe and America have adopted distinct approaches toward the legal regulation of hate speech that reflect both the different role that public discourse plays in underwriting democratic legitimation in the two continents, and also the distinctly different levels of commitment that citizens of the two continents experience with regard to the felt imperative of maintaining norms of respect constitutive of social solidarity.

Keywords:   freedom of speech, hatred, social organization, speech regulation, social groups

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