Nadine Strossen

Can words be a form of violence? Should freedom of speech be restricted to prevent harm to others?

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Western civilizations are struggling with the problem of how to regulate hate speech, or “hate speech”, which is currently appearing on a large scale, especially on social media. The book Hate clarifies the misunderstandings that persist in debates about “hate speech” and freedom of speech. Nadine Strossen makes a number of arguments and uses examples from many countries to show why regulating “hate speech” is harmful and undermines the basic principles of democracy. Instead, it proposes alternative uncensored solutions and teaches us how to resist hate in an effective way.

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. As "hate speech" has no generally accepted definition, we hear many incorrect assumptions that it 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 disfavored, disturbing, or vaguely feared to possibly contribute to some future harm. "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 manycountries, this book shows that "hate speech" are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. Therefore, prominent social justice advocates worldwide maintain that the best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but rather, vigorous "counterspeech" and activism.

“One of life’s hardest tasks is to tell natural allies they are wrong. Nadine Strossen is clear in a time of confusion, consistent in an era of hypocrisy, and brave in an environment of intimidation. Her book is a fitting capstone in a career in defense of our civil liberties.”

Mitchell Daniels, President,Purdue University, and former Governor of Indiana

“Strossen has accomplished something remarkable in this slim book—she has ventured into a complex and heavily examined field and produced a book that is original, insightful, and clear-headed. My guess: this book will become the go-to work in the field.”

Ronald Collins, Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington School of Law, and Publisher of First Amendment News

“Well-intentioned, but misguided, people today are clamoring for what amounts to censorship of speech they deem to be hateful. Nadine Strossen explains why the criminalization of advocacy, even advocacy of hateful ideas, imperils honorable freedoms. What’s more, she provides a robust defense of a piece of old-fashioned, but oft-forgotten, wisdom: The safest—and most effective—way to fight bad ideas is not by limiting the right to free speech, but by exercising that right to counter them.”

Robert P. George, McCormick, Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

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