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Description - HATE by Nadine Strossen

HATE dispels misunderstandings plaguing our perennial debates about "hate speech vs. free speech," showing that the First Amendment approach promotes free speech and democracy, equality, and societal harmony. We hear too many incorrect assertions that "hate speech" -- which has no generally accepted definition -- is either absolutely unprotected or absolutely protected from censorship. Rather, U.S. law allows government to punish hateful or discriminatory speech in specific contexts when it directly causes imminent serious harm. Yet, government may not punish such speech solely because its message is disfavoured, disturbing, or vaguely feared to possibly contribute to some future harm. When U.S. officials formerly wielded such broad censorship power, they suppressed dissident speech, including equal rights advocacy. Likewise, current politicians have attacked Black Lives Matter protests as "hate speech." "Hate speech" censorship proponents stress the potential harms such speech might further: discrimination, violence, and psychic injuries. However, there has been little analysis of whether censorship effectively counters the feared injuries. Citing evidence from many countries, this book shows that "hate speech" laws are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. Their inevitably vague terms invest enforcing officials with broad discretion, and predictably, regular targets are minority views and speakers. Therefore, prominent social justice advocates in the U.S. and beyond maintain that the best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but rather, vigorous "counterspeech" and activism.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780190859121
ISBN-10: 0190859121
Format: Hardback
(216mm x 149mm x 21mm)
Pages: 232
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 26-Jul-2018
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - HATE by Nadine Strossen

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Book Review: HATE by Nadine Strossen - Reviewed by (05 Dec 2018)

PROTECTING FREE SPEECH IN 21st CENTURY: HATE CRIMES ARE RISING TO THE TOP OF THE POLITICAL AGENDA IN 2018

An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”

We suspect that the title “Hate” is slightly misleading for some readers because of the rise of “hate” criminality in 2018 which continues to dominate the political agenda. The issue of censorship remains high on the political and legal agendas where no reforming change seems to be in the wind in the free speech versus privacy argument.

Therefore, it’s a most useful exercise to read this new book about “hate” from author, Professor Nadine Strossen, who successfully “dispels misunderstandings plaguing our perennial debates about "hate speech vs. free speech." We do not know whether she actually does this or not because the matter remains high on the active list of things we “must do” although not agreement which way to go is clear with strong feelings on both sides.

This title come from the United States of America jurisdiction where Strossen illustrates her main point: that the First Amendment approach promotes free speech and democracy, equality, and societal harmony.

It is said that we hear too many incorrect assertions that "hate speech" -- which has no generally accepted definition -- is either absolutely unprotected or absolutely protected from censorship. Yet, it still causes massive upheaval and anger for many accused of behaving in such a manner! Such is life.

So, this being an American edition from Oxford University Press, the author says that US law permits the government to punish hateful or discriminatory speech in specific contexts when it directly causes imminent serious harm.

It’s unfortunate, then, that whilst the government may not punish such speech solely because its message is “disfavoured, disturbing, or vaguely feared” raising a view that it possibly contributes to some future harm. As the author says, when US officials “formerly wielded such broad censorship power, they suppressed dissident speech, including equal rights advocacy.” Likewise, current politicians have attacked Black Lives Matter protests as "hate speech." This book tries to gives some balance at a time of change.

"Hate speech" censorship proponents point out that the potential harms such speech might further include discrimination, violence, and psychic injuries. However, there has been little analysis of whether censorship effectively counters the feared injuries to date.

Citing evidence from many countries, the writer shows that "hate speech" laws are “at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive”. Strossen concludes that their “inevitably vague terms invest enforcing officials with broad discretion, and predictably, regular targets are minority views and speakers”.

Therefore, prominent social justice advocates in America and elsewhere contend that the best way to resist hate and promote equality “is not censorship, but rather, vigorous "counterspeech" and activism”. A fair point in that this approach seems the most practical, at least for the time being.

The book was published on 1st May 2018.


Author Biography - Nadine Strossen

Nadine Strossen is Professor of Constitutional Law at New York Law School and the first woman national President of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served from 1991 through 2008. A frequent speaker on constitutional and civil liberties issues, her media appearances include 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, Today, Good Morning America, The Daily Show, and other news programs on CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, Al-Jazeera, and in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Her op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and USA Today, among others.

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