1st Edition

The Politics of Hate Speech Laws

By Alexander Brown, Adriana Sinclair Copyright 2020

    This book examines the complex relationship between politics and hate speech laws, domestic and international. How do political contexts shape understandings of what hate speech is and how to deal with it? Why do particular states enact hate speech laws and then apply, extend or reform them in the ways they do? What part does hate speech play in international affairs? Why do some but not all states negotiate, agree and ratify international hate speech frameworks or instruments? What are some of the best and worst political arguments for and against hate speech laws? Do political figures have special moral duties to refrain from hate speech? Should the use of hate speech by political figures be protected by parliamentary privilege? Should this sort of hyperpolitical hate speech be subject to the laws of the land, civil and criminal? Or should it instead be handled by parliamentary codes of conduct and procedures or even by political parties themselves? What should the codes of conduct look like?

    Brown and Sinclair answer these important and overlooked questions on the politics of hate speech laws, providing a substantial body of new evidence, insights, arguments, theories and practical recommendations. The primary focus is on the UK and the US but several other country contexts are also explored and compared in detail, including: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, India, China, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. Methodologically, the two authors draw on approaches and concepts from a range of academic disciplines, including: law and legal theory, political theory, applied ethics, political science and sociology, international relations theory and international law.

    1 Introduction


    2 The contextualised meaning and salience of problems of hate speech

    3 The politics behind the introduction of stirring up religious hatred offences in England and Wales

    4 International relations theory and international hate speech instruments


    5 The slippery slope argument

    6 Some other (bad) political arguments against hate speech laws


    7 Do political figures have any special moral duties to refrain from hate speech?

    8 Policy options for tackling hyperpolitical hate speech

    9 What does the future hold?


    Alexander Brown is Reader in Political and Legal Theory at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK. He is the author of A Theory of Legitimate Expectations for Public Administration (Oxford University Press, 2017), Hate Speech Law: A Philosophical Examination (Routledge, 2015), Ronald Dworkin’s Theory of Equality: Domestic and Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2009), and Personal Responsibility: Why It Matters (Continuum, 2009). He has published articles on the concept of hate speech, the ‘Who?’ question in the hate speech debate, the use of civil torts for hate speech, the nature of online hate speech and its captive audiences and precautionary approaches to hate speech regulation. In 2018 he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Queensland.

    Adriana Sinclair is Lecturer in International Relations at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK. She is the author of International Relations Theory and International Law: A Critical Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2011). She has published articles on interdisciplinary approaches to international relations and international law, constructivism, and the agency of international law. She is currently working a new comprehensive theory of international relations and international law. In 2012 she was an AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker, and in 2018 she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Queensland.