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The Communication of Hate


Michael Waltman and John Haas

The book was awarded the 2011 NCA Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression.
This book sets out to explore how hate comes alive in language and actions by examining the nature and persuasive functions of hate in American society. Hate speech may be used for many purposes and have different intended consequences. It may be directed to intimidate an out-group, or to influence the behavior of in-group members. But how does this language function? What does it accomplish? The answers to these questions are addressed by an examination of the communicative messages produced by those with hateful minds. Beginning with an examination of the organized hate movement, the book provides a critique of racist discourse used to recruit and socialize new members, construct enemies, promote valued identities, and encourage ethnoviolence. The book also examines the strategic manipulation of hatred in our everyday lives by politicians, political operatives, and media personalities. Providing a comprehensive overview of hate speech, the book ends by describing the desirable features of an anti-hate discourse that promotes respect for social differences.


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Chapter 7: Anti-Hate Narratives 133


Chapter 7 Anti-Hate Narratives The United States is unlike most of its Western cousins in terms of the laws that regulate, or do not regulate, hate speech. U.S. courts have held fast to Oliver Wendell Holmes’s logic that “The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.… I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death” (cited in Lip- tak, 2008). As we have illustrated numerous times, hate speech is often fraught with violence and death. Liptak (2008) provides examples of the countries, many of them Western countries, which treat hate speech differ- ently than the United States: Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Is- rael and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France. In the United States, the courts have treated Klan and neo-Nazi rallies as constitutionally protected speech. The labyrinth of racist novels, Internet Web Pages, podcasts, White Power music, and online newspapers and news- letters discussed in this text are forms of constitutionally protected speech. This U.S. perspective on hate speech makes anti-hate discourse, and the principles discussed in this chapter, all the more important. Hate speech probably should be constitutionally protected in order to...

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