Chapter

Words That Silence? Freedom of Expression and Racist Hate Speech<sup>1</sup>

Caroline West

in Speech and Harm

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199236282
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.003.0009
Words That Silence? Freedom of Expression and Racist Hate Speech1

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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

Chapter.  12540 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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