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Terror, Hate and the Demands of Counter-Speech

Howard, JW; (2019) Terror, Hate and the Demands of Counter-Speech. British Journal of Political Science 10.1017/S000712341900053X. (In press). Green open access

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It is a familiar mantra of American politics that the best response to dangerous speech that incites violence and spreads hate is 'more speech'. Yet the principle obscures at least three crucial questions. Who, in particular, is to undertake the counter-speech that the doctrine recommends? What, exactly, are they required to do? And why is it morally justified to demand that they do it? This article argues that if citizens are to rely on counter-speech to defuse the dangers of dangerous expression, it is not enough to cheerlead its abstract importance and then sit back and hope for the best. Someone needs to do the work, and do it well. The article defends the thesis that all citizens have a moral duty to engage in counter-speech against dangerous expression. Focusing on counter-speech against expression that implicitly or explicitly advocates wrongful criminal violence, it argues that these duties can be derived from a much more basic normative source: the samaritan obligation, held by all moral agents, to rescue others from risks of harm. The specification of these duties' content, however, depends upon interdisciplinary work that integrates normative theory with social scientific research on human communication.

Type: Article
Title: Terror, Hate and the Demands of Counter-Speech
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S000712341900053X
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S000712341900053X
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: free speech; hate speech; dangerous speech; counter-speech; samaritanism; civic duties
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10089036
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