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Hate Speech and Ethnophaulisms

Terry A. Kinney

Subject Communication Studies » Intercultural Communication

Key-Topics democracy, speech

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


One of the most controversial topics that a democratic society faces is the issue of regulating the speech of its citizens. As Delgado and Stefancic suggest in Must we defend Nazis? Hate speech, pornography, and the new First Amendment (1997), the notion of “free speech” in a democratic society is a misnomer, as social institutions place controls on what can be said, to protect the public. This is certainly the case when speech is classified as obscene, defamatory, slanderous, or hateful, and holds a reasonable potential to be harmful ( Lederer & Delgado 1995 ). Hate speech, for example, is a form of verbal aggression (→  Verbal Aggressiveness ) that expresses hatred, contempt, ridicule, or threats toward a specific group or class of people ( Asante 1998 ). Hate speech encompasses verbalizations, written messages, symbols, or symbolic acts that demean and degrade, and, as such, can promote discrimination, prejudice, and violence toward targeted groups. Hate speech often stems from thoughts and beliefs such as hatred, intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, or stereotyping ( Allport 1954 ). Common forms of hate speech include ethnophaulisms, racial slurs and epithets, sexist comments, and homophobic speech (→  Prejudiced and Discriminatory Communication ). Hate speech functions to distort the history of targeted groups, to eliminate the agency of targeted groups, to create and maintain ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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