Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hate speech is harmful speech

On Sunday, Rachel Martin of NPR interviewed Jeremy Waldron about his book The Harm in Hate Speech. Yes, Waldron thinks some speech is so harmful it should be banned.

The example of harmful speech was from the late 1970s in Skokie, Illinois. This suburb of Chicago was the home of many Holocaust survivors and the Nazi Party of America wanted to hold a march through the town. The case went all the way to the Supremes, who approved the march. The people of Skokie felt a "sense of terror reawakened by the nightmares," making the march abusive to the residents, and that harm should have prevented the march.

Waldron says there are four components to the hate speech he thinks should be regulated.
* It is intended to stir up hate and hostility towards a particular group.
* It is likely to stir up those feelings.
* It is offered in a threatening, abusive, and insulting way.
* The speech is done away from a safe haven (it isn't hate speech when in your own home).

Such a law should have enough limits that it can be applied to only the most foul cases.

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