Dignity, Harm, and Hate Speech

Law and Philosophy 32 (6):701-728 (2013)
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This paper examines two recent contributions to the hate speech literature – by Steven Heyman and Jeremy Waldron – which seek a justification for the legal restriction of hate speech in an account of the way that hate speech infringes against people’s dignity. These analyses look beyond the first-order hurts and disadvantages suffered by the immediate targets of hate speech, and consider the prospect of hate speech sustaining complex social structures whose wide-scale operations lower the social status of members of targeted groups. In Heyman’s and Waldron’s accounts we find plausible insights into the nature of identity-based social hierarchies, and the harms that redound to subordinated people under the operations of such hierarchies. I argue, however, that both analyses are unsuccessful as justifications for the restriction of hate speech, because they do not ultimately provide reason to think that hate speech is responsible for creating or sustaining identity-based social hierarchies

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Robert Mark Simpson
University College London

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References found in this work

The autonomy defense of free speech.Susan Brison - 1998 - Ethics 108 (2):312-339.
Freedom of expression.Joshua Cohen - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (3):207-263.
Civil Society and Government: A Liberal-Egalitarian Perspective.Will Kymlicka - 2001 - In Nancy L. Rosenblum & Robert C. Post (eds.), Civil Society and Government. Princeton University Press. pp. 79-110.

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