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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Chris Bousquet publishes paper on hate speech regulation

Christopher Bousquet

Posted on: April 12, 2021

Congratulations to Christopher Bousquet, whose paper “Words That Harm: Defending the Dignity Approach to Hate Speech Regulation” was just accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. Bousquet’s paper will appear in the February issue. You can read an abstract of the paper below.

Abstract: In this paper, I argue in favor of what I call the dignity approach to racist hate speech regulation. This approach, exemplified most prominently in the work of Jeremy Waldron, emphasizes the way that racist hate speech impugns targets’ social standing and poses a threat to their equal treatment. As articulated in existing literature, however, this approach faces the significant causal challenges of showing that hate speech can in fact erode its targets’ dignity and that regulations can successfully protect that dignity. My aim is to show how a friend of the dignity approach can resolve these challenges. To do so, I borrow insights from what I term the critical legal studies (CLS) approach to hate speech. Specifically, I argue that hate speech can erode its targets’ dignity 1) by constituting an act of discrimination and 2) by enacting norms that call for treating targeted groups as inferior. Yet while I maintain that the CLS approach offers valuable resources for shoring up the dignity approach, I reject the CLS approach in favor of the dignity approach because the former misunderstands the relation between hate speech and the interests underlying free expression.