Hate speech

Hate speech is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation".[1] Hate speech is "usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such as race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation".[2]

There has been much debate over freedom of speech, hate speech and hate speech legislation.[3] The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or which disparage or intimidate a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. The law may identify a group based on certain characteristics.[4][5][6] In some countries, hate speech is not a legal term.[7] Additionally, in some countries, including the United States, much of what falls under the category of "hate speech" is constitutionally protected.[8][9][10] In other countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

Hate speech lawsEdit

Laws against hate speech can be divided into two types: those intended to preserve public order and those intended to protect human dignity.

The laws designed to protect public order require that a higher threshold be violated, so they are not often enforced. For example, in Northern Ireland, as of 1992, only one person has been prosecuted for violating the regulation in 21 years.

The laws meant to protect human dignity have a much lower threshold for violation, so those in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands tend to be more frequently enforced.[11]

The global nature of the internet makes it extremely difficult to set limits or boundaries to cyberspace.[12][citation needed]

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence shall be prohibited by law".[13] The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) prohibits all incitement to racism.[14] Concerning the debate over how freedom of speech applies to the Internet, conferences concerning such sites have been sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[15] "Direct and public incitement to commit genocide" is prohibited by the 1948 Genocide Convention.[16]


On May 31, 2016, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, jointly agreed to a European Union code of conduct obligating them to review "[the] majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech" posted on their services within 24 hours.[17]

Prior to this in 2013, Facebook, with pressure from over 100 advocacy groups including the Everyday Sexism Project, agreed to change their hate speech policies after data released regarding content that promoted domestic and sexual violence against women led to the withdrawal of advertising by 15 large companies.[18][19]


Civil liberties activist Nadine Strossen says that, while efforts to censor hate speech have the goal of protecting the most vulnerable, they are ineffective and may have the opposite effect: disadvantaged and ethnic minorities being charged with violating laws against hate speech.[20]

Kim Holmes, Vice President of the conservative Heritage Foundation and a critic of hate speech theory, has argued that it "assumes bad faith on the part of people regardless of their stated intentions" and that it "obliterates the ethical responsibility of the individual".[21]

Rebecca Ruth Gould, a professor of Eurasian and Russian Studies at Harvard University, argues that hate speech constitutes viewpoint discrimination, as the legal system punishes some viewpoints but not others.[22]

Research indicates that when people support censoring hate speech, they are motivated by concerns about the effects the speech has on others than they are about its effects on themselves.[23]

There are also positive benefits to hate speech that are often overlooked. Allowing hate speech provides a more accurate view of the human condition, provides opportunites to change people's minds, and identifies certain people that may need to be avoided in certain circumstances.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/hate-speech
  2. ^ Nockleby, John T. (2000), “Hate Speech” in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, ed. Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst, vol. 3. (2nd ed.), Detroit: Macmillan Reference US, pp. 1277–79. Cited in "Library 2.0 and the Problem of Hate Speech," by Margaret Brown-Sica and Jeffrey Beall, Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, vol. 9 no. 2 (Summer 2008).
  3. ^ "Herz, Michael and Peter Molnar, eds. 2012. The content and context of hate speech. Cambridge University Press" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Criminal Justice Act 2003". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  5. ^ An Activist's Guide to The Yogyakarta Principles (PDF) (Report). 14 November 2010. p. 125. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2017.
  6. ^ Kinney, Terry A. (2008). Hate Speech and Ethnophaulisms. The International Encyclopedia of Communication. doi:10.1002/9781405186407.wbiech004. ISBN 9781405186407.
  7. ^ "CNN's Chris Cuomo: First Amendment doesn't cover hate speech". Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  8. ^ Stone, Geoffrey R. (1994). "Hate Speech and the U.S. Constitution." Archived 27 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine East European Constitutional Review, vol. 3, pp. 78-82.
  9. ^ Volokh, Eugene (5 May 2015). "No, there's no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  10. ^ Volokh, Eugene (19 June 2017). "Supreme Court Unanimously Reaffirms: There Is No ‘Hate Speech’ Exception to the First Amendment." WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  11. ^ Bell, Jeannine (Summer 2009). "Restraining the heartless: racist speech and minority rights". Indiana Law Journal. 84: 963–79. Retrieved 9 October 2014.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Laub, Zachary. "Hate Speech on Social Media: Global Comparisons". The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  13. ^ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 20
  14. ^ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 4
  15. ^ Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the use of the Internet for purposes of incitement to racial hatred, racist propaganda and xenophobia, and on ways of promoting international cooperation in this area[permanent dead link], Preparatory Committee for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, United Nations, 27 April 2001
  16. ^ "Incitement to Genocide in International Law". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  17. ^ Hern, Alex (31 May 2016). "Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft sign EU hate speech code". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  18. ^ Sara C Nelson (28 May 2013). "#FBrape: Will Facebook Heed Open Letter Protesting 'Endorsement Of Rape & Domestic Violence'?". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  19. ^ Rory Carroll (29 May 2013). "Facebook gives way to campaign against hate speech on its pages". The Guardian UK. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  20. ^ Strossen, Nadine (14 December 2018). "'Minorities suffer the most from hate-speech laws'". Spiked. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  21. ^ Holmes, Kim (22 October 2018). "The Origins of "Hate Speech"". heritage.org. The Heritage Foundation.
  22. ^ Gould, Rebecca Ruth (15 November 2018). "Is the 'Hate'in Hate Speech the 'Hate'in Hate Crime? Waldron and Dworkin on Political Legitimacy". Jurisprudence.
  23. ^ Guo, Lei; Johnson, Brett G. (April 2020). "Third-Person Effect and Hate Speech Censorship on Facebook". Social Media + Society. doi:10.1177/2056305120923003.
  24. ^ Conklin, Michael (2020). "The Overlooked Benefits of 'Hate Speech': Not Just the Lesser of Two Evils". Rochester, NY. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External linksEdit