The Individual Consequences of Hate Speech: A Comparison of Defamation and Hate Speech/Group Libel

Sigri M. Gaïni

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There is a general consensus on the importance of having laws against individual-related defamation (usually called defamation) while at the same time there is an ongoing discussion about whether to hold on to the laws against group-related defamation (usually called hate speech or group libel). In Europe the discussion concerns whether to abrogate the hate speech laws that have been enforced for decades, while in the USA the question is rather about whether one should pass laws against hate speech at all (since the USA has never had such a law). The main difference between defamation against individuals and defamation against groups is that in the first case the defamation is targeted against one named individual, while in the second case it is targeted against multiple unnamed individuals who belong to the same minority group. I hold that the consequences of defamatory speech are very similar in both cases and that the speech likewise is harmful in both cases. Thus, I argue that if one passes laws against defamation, it should logically follow that one also passes laws against hate speech.
TidsskriftSofia Philosophical Review
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)114-133
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022


  • Defamation
  • Hate Speech/Group Libel
  • Harm
  • Consequences
  • USA
  • Europe

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