‘Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?’ Hate Speech, Harm, and Childhood

Law and Philosophy 38 (1):79-108 (2019)
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Abstract
Some authors claim that hate speech plays a key role in perpetuating unjust social hierarchy. One prima facie plausible hypothesis about how this occurs is that hate speech has a pernicious influence on the attitudes of children. Here I argue that this hypothesis has an important part to play in the formulation of an especially robust case for general legal prohibitions on hate speech. If our account of the mechanism via which hate speech effects its harms is built around claims about hate speech’s influence on children, then we will be better placed to acquire evidence that demonstrates the processes posited in our account, and better placed to ascribe responsibility for these harms to individuals who engage in hate speech. I briefly suggest some policy implications that come with developing an account of the harm of hate speech along these lines.
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Archival date: 2019-02-03
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