‎”A large proportion of the other advanced democracies in the world combine a commitment to free speech with rules prohibiting hate speech. Isn’t it worth considering how they do this? And why? No one is burning the constitution here. We’re just trying to think about it.”

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From this NYT piece by Jeremy Waldron. Here is an excerpt:

Democracies like Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Canada and New Zealand all prohibit hate speech of various kinds. They do so for what they think are good reasons. It is worth thinking about those reasons. Are they good reasons that (from an American First Amendment perspective) are just not strong enough to stand up against our overwhelmingly powerful commitment to free speech? Or are they simply bad reasons?

I think some of the things people cite in favor of hate speech regulation are bad reasons — like trying to protect people from being offended and annoyed. I agree with Stanley Fish about that. But some of the reasons are about dignity, not offense — I spend a lot of time in the book thinking aloud about that distinction — and these reasons are worth taking seriously, even if ultimately we think they are trumped by the value of free speech.

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One Response to ‎”A large proportion of the other advanced democracies in the world combine a commitment to free speech with rules prohibiting hate speech. Isn’t it worth considering how they do this? And why? No one is burning the constitution here. We’re just trying to think about it.”

  1. Stephanie Farrior says:

    The reasons Waldron puts forward in his piece are much the same as those that influenced the text of international human rights treaties, which either require or permit states to prohibit hate speech. An article about the drafting of these provisions, Molding the Matrix: The Theoretical and Historical Foundations of International Law and Practice Concerning Hate Speech, is available here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=886171

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