Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease?: Censorship of Hate Speech May Well Increase Violence

From Charlottesville to college campuses, people with odious hate groups have risen in notoriety recently. Responses to those people and the groups to which they belong have ranged from efforts to keep them from speaking in person, to deleting their presence on the internet, to efforts to have them terminated from their jobs or evicted from their apartments, and even to physical assault by members of such groups as Antifa. Such efforts at censoring, ostracizing, and stigmatizing hate group members are generally justified by claims that such individuals are dangerous. It is true that some scholars have found an association between the existence of far-right hate groups and the occurrence of far-right ideological violence;however, it is also true others have failed to find an association between hate groups and hate crimes, and that the majority of hate crimes are committed not by ideologically-motivated individuals, but rather by groups of bored youths who are often under the influence of alcohol. Most importantly, there is substantial evidence that censorship and demonization of hate group members is counterproductive because they tend to lead to more violence, not less.

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Gordon Danning, J.D., is the History Research Fellow at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Gordon Danning, Is the Cure Worse Than the Diesease?: Censorship of Hate Speech May Well Increase Violence, 3 Nev. L.J. Forum 1 (2018).

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