The Social Benefits of Protecting Hate Speech and Exposing Sources of Prejudice

RES PUBLICA (2015). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI10.1007/s11158-015-9282-1

Abstract: I argue that there are strong consequentialist grounds for thinking that hate speech should be legally protected. The protection of hate speech allows those who are hateful to make their beliefs public, thereby exposing prejudices that might otherwise be suppressed to evaluation by other members of society. This greater transparency about prejudices has two social benefits. First, it facilitates social trust by making it easier to discover who holds beliefs that should exclude them from positions of authority, responsibility, and influence. Second, it facilitates efforts to combat hatred by revealing which prejudiced members of society must be persuaded or discredited by those seeking to promote tolerance.