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Title: The right to political speech and the ban on hate speech
Author: Szigeti, Tamas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 3079
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis contributes to the debate on hate speech by arguing for a compromise solution. It breaks with the absolutist solutions under which either all hate speech should be banned or all should be protected. The prohibition of some hateful expressions is assumed to be legitimate. This follows the European constitutional tradition. However, the prohibitionist norm should be reconciled with the right to political speech. This flows from the normative importance of free political expression that is widely endorsed. The research relies on three theoretical pillars. First, it defines the strongest democratic justificatory case for political speech in liberal democracies. Then, it argues for a richer understanding of what should count as political speech. The proposed approach assigns more weight to the political circumstances than to the sheer content of speech. The argument then proceeds through investigating the strongest objections against protecting hate speech. These prohibitionist arguments assert that hate speech incites against, silences or vilifies vulnerable groups, moreover that hate speech harms democracy. The thesis disputes these objections as applied to political hate speech. The conclusion is that political hate speech narrowly defined should be an exception from the otherwise legitimate ban on hate speech. In the final two chapters, the theoretical findings are applied to the case law of the ECtHR and to the United Kingdom's statutory hate speech regulation. The critical evaluation of hate speech judgments and statutes is coupled with suggestions how to reform the broadly prohibitionist position that these jurisdictions had come to endorse.
Supervisor: Rowbottom, Jacob Sponsor: Weidenfeld-Hoffman Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Freedom of expression ; Hate Speech ; free speech ; legitimacy