How should states deal with hate speech? The American approach is to protect even the most vile speech. In other liberal democracies, especially in Europe, hate speech is more restricted, and permitting unconstrained speech is seen as a failure to respect the groups it targets. Our guest today, Corey Brettschneider, thinks a third way is possible.
In his book When the State Speaks, What Should it Say?, Brettschneider argues for a new approach to hate speech. The state shouldn’t simply ban hate speech, he says, but it shouldn’t be silent on it either. One way the state can speak out, he believes, is by limiting state subsidies to discrminatory groups. The Boy Scouts of America can decline to admit gay scouts, but doing so should come at the price of its tax-exempt status, says Brettschneider.
Corey Brettschneider is a professor of political science at Brown University.
Brettschneider mentions John Stuart Mill’s views on hate speech; here’s a quick introduction.
The other legal case that Brettschneider discusses is Virginia v. Black, which involved a Virginia law against cross burning.
Non-American listeners might not be familiar with 501(c)(3) organizations. The name refers to a section of the U.S. tax code. Essentially, they are charitable organizations exempt from paying taxes, which means they are effectively subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.