Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Defense of Free Speech Around the World

Robert A. Kahn, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota), has published 'First Amendment' Pioneers in a European Land of Hate Speech Bans: Flemming Rose, Geert Wilders and Liberté Pour L’Histoire as U. of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-18. Here is the abstract.

Are global defenses of free speech possible? Or are such arguments necessarily local? To answer this question, this paper focuses on three European opponents of hate speech laws – Flemming Rose, Geert Wilders, and the French historians of Liberté pour l’histoire, a group opposed to Frances’ recent memory laws. Do these writers draw on experience of the United States in opposing hate speech bans? Or do they draw on specifically European (native) arguments? This installment focuses on Danish Cartoon publisher Flemming Rose (the full project will also include Wilders and the French historians). An examination of Rose’s recent memoir, The Tyranny of Silence (2010), shows that Rose draws quite heavily on his experiences living in the Soviet Union to craft a samizdat theory of hate speech regulation that shifts the focus from the harm hate speech can inflict on society to the harm hate speech regulation poses on the speaker him or herself. He also, despite temptation, lacks the skepticism typical of the American response to speech. Indeed, Rose barely mentions the American free speech canon in his book excerpt. Taken as a whole, Rose’s speech theory suggests the power of an adage borrowed from Tip O’Neil – all theories of hate speech regulation are local.

Download the full text of the paper from SSRN at the link.

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