This post follows on from here.
Kateb writes: “The defense of worthless and harmful expression must be at the center of the defense of freedom of expression as a fundamental right.”1. Such a principle is ineffective if it does not cover worthless expression like hate speech, so I agree that to defend freedom of expression one must should concentrate their arguments against the cases of expression seen as the most harmful. I have defended the right to civil freedom of expression, but in cases like Malema’s I think society has a responsibility to deal with the problem of hate speech. That does not necessitate that the state get involved, for the reasons I have argued in this essay. Rather, we should prefer another method, such as making the hate-speaker a pariah, or try to reason them away from their position. Whether these methods could work or whether there really is such a means of solving the problem of hate speech is a whole other topic up for discussion. I am optimistic about the prospects, however.
My purpose has been to first defend freedom of expression, (showing why Mill’s arguments are insufficient to cover worthless expression like hate speech, followed by an outline of a rights-based approach to arguing against limitations on such expression) followed by an examination of the reasons for wanting to have state-restrictions on hate speech. I conclude that hate-speakers like Malema and those that destroy the dignity of minorities (as in Waldron’s examples) should be dealt with using methods other than their expression being restricted by the state.
1 Kateb, G., (1989). “The Freedom of Worthless and Harmful Speech,” in Liberalism without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Political Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.232