We live in an era in which offensive speech is on the rise. The emergence of the alt-right alone has fueled a marked increase in racist and anti-Semitic speech. Given its potential for harm, should this speech be banned? Nadine Strossen's HATE dispels the many misunderstandings that have clouded the perpetual debates about "hate speech vs. free speech." She argues that an expansive approach to the First Amendment is most effective at promoting democracy, equality, and societal harmony.Proponents of anti-hate speech laws stress the harms that they fear such speech might lead to: discrimination, violence, and psychic injuries. However, there has been no rigorous analysis to date of whether the laws effectively counter the feared harms. This book fills that gap, examining our actual experience with such laws. It shows that they are not effective in reducing the feared harms, and worse yet, are likely counterproductive. Even in established democracies, enforcement officials use the power these laws give them to suppress vital expression and target minority viewpoints, as was the case in earlier periods of U.S. history. The solution instead, as Strossen shows, is to promote equality and societal harmony through the increasingly vibrant "counterspeech" activism that has been flourishing on U.S. college campuses and in some global human rights movements. Strossen's powerful argument on behalf of free expression promises to shift the debate around this perennially contentious topic.
- January 1, 1970Mary ThompsonThis book does a great job of articulating the reasons why laws limiting free speech are harmful, especially for those groups such laws are meant to protect, and also why they are ineffective at preventing harm. Anyone who has considered advocating for stricter limits on speech in the United States should read it. I was disappointed that the book did not contain any notes. The author mentions case after case without a single citation. This flaw severely limits the usefulness of the book.more
- January 1, 1970Apar GuptaWe live in interesting times. Mimicking the architecture of our great cities many yearn for men of steel and stone. Those who can provide us with loud answers to our search for comfort and modernity. Such authoritarian yearnings often call upon decisiveness, but their course is routinely divisive. Such paths often see the rise of authoritarian leaders who voice and endorse speech considered dangerous to a multi-cultural society. At this point, Nadine Strossen's "Hate: Why We Should Resist It wit We live in interesting times. Mimicking the architecture of our great cities many yearn for men of steel and stone. Those who can provide us with loud answers to our search for comfort and modernity. Such authoritarian yearnings often call upon decisiveness, but their course is routinely divisive. Such paths often see the rise of authoritarian leaders who voice and endorse speech considered dangerous to a multi-cultural society. At this point, Nadine Strossen's "Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship", makes a case against greater legal censorship against hate speech. The background of the author is necessary to appreciate the political viewpoints put forth in the book. Strossen was the youngest and the first female president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which has been a faithful supporter of free expression and the 1st Amendment rights available under the Constitution of the United States. She has previously authored, "Defending Pornography" which challenged the coalition between the conservative evangelical organisations and some feminist legal academics such as Andrea Dworkin who proposed criminal sanctions on pornography. While agreeing that the mainstream production of pornography may result in the degradation of women, Strossen persuasively put forth the case for maintaining free expression. A similar understanding and alliance with the progressive cause towards a more just society, but a commitment towards free speech marks her present effort.The content of the book makes a case against laws which punish, "hate speech". First, it looks at what existing laws already punish, and what expression is termed as, "constitutionally protected hate speech", and what flows outside it. This is in an essential facet of the book which argues that quite often arguments which are made for further regulation, even sometimes by law professors, derive from a lack of proper understanding of the 1st Amendment and Supreme Court precedent. Much of what is wanted to be punished by hate speech laws in the United States, is already penalised under various laws which prohibit harassment, true threats and criminal incitement. Secondly, the book then looks at the intended effect in substance and process of hate speech. What is it's objectives? And, how well does it fulfil them? In doing this, a central critique of hate speech laws is their broad phrasing and such vagueness results in arbitrariness. The latter parts focus on a real, shared concern on the protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and individuals through strategies of counter-speech. Hate is a thin book but often may seem dense to a non-legal crowd. The inaccessibility of the text is not due to the style of the writing but the subject itself which is inherently juristical. While labour has been put in the presentation of the competition arguments for and against hate speech laws, and even contemporary examples add seasoning, a reader is left without relish. To her credit, clear legal principles and terminology are used consistently, where she draws conceptual boundaries. However, the chapter sub-divisions do sometimes end up having the unintended effect of reading as a court brief. To be fair, this is due to the nature of the subject, which requires inquiry and understanding, and is not a fault with the author. This is an important book, advancing knowledge, reducing the complexity around the American and global scholarship on hate speech. It is well worth a weekend.more
- January 1, 1970ZackGoodreads Giveaway - What is the optimal way to counteract "hate speech"? Censorship? Legal action? Violence? Or more speech? Nadine Strossen (former director of the ACLU) makes a strong argument that it is the later - the best option for addressing constitutionally protected "hate speech" is more speech. Through numerous examples, from both the United States and abroad, she argues that laws, regulations, and policies designed to limit "hate speech" actually do the exact opposite and magnify "ha Goodreads Giveaway - What is the optimal way to counteract "hate speech"? Censorship? Legal action? Violence? Or more speech? Nadine Strossen (former director of the ACLU) makes a strong argument that it is the later - the best option for addressing constitutionally protected "hate speech" is more speech. Through numerous examples, from both the United States and abroad, she argues that laws, regulations, and policies designed to limit "hate speech" actually do the exact opposite and magnify "hate speech" while providing recourse for the speech of minorities and the oppressed to be restricted. This argument essentially boils down to the nature of power: laws meant to protect the marginalized are frequently used by those in power to further marginalize them. From my perspective Strossen make a very strong case and the examples she cites go a long ways to support her case. Strossen decided to write this book after seeing recent activity on college and university campuses to limit the speech of alt-right pundits - her perspective on this appears to be that by shutting them down, work was actually done on their behalf and raised their profile. This is an essential book for our times when civil rights, discourse, and even truth are under assault. Highly recommended.more
- January 1, 1970Faith 09Very intelligent argument for free speech. It really put things into perspective.
- January 1, 1970AndréaNote: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
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