Hate Speech and Free Speech, Part Two

[by Jeremy Waldron at New York Times – part 1 was by Stanley Fish]

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. …

But what I have in mind when I talk about dignity is this — a person’s basic social status, his or her being treated as an ordinary member of society in good standing, his or her being included in the ordinary business of society. A person’s dignity is damaged, then, when he or she is publicly defamed or dehumanized, or when he or she is perceived as belonging to a group all of whose members are defamed or dehumanized. In parts of Miami some restaurant signs used to say, “Jews and dogs not welcome here.” A legal prohibition on such signs would be aimed at securing the inclusiveness of the social environment against such attempts to undermine it.

Keep reading …

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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