Hate Speech

Alon Harel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This chapter highlights hate speech, which is abusive speech that targets members of certain groups—typically minority groups—including racial groups, ethnic groups, religious groups, and groups defined on the basis of sexual orientation. Most groups protected by hate speech legislation are groups that have been subjected to past discriminatory treatment. However, the restrictions on hate speech legislation have often been expanded and the proper scope of the groups that deserve protection have been subject to a fierce debate. While much of hate speech can be legitimately prohibited by standard recognized legal exceptions to free speech, such as fighting words or incitement to violence, other forms of hate speech cannot. To address the prevalence of hate speech as such, many legal systems prohibit some forms of hate speech and impose criminal or civil sanctions for violating such prohibitions. Those systems need to address the serious challenge of defining the category of hate speech, draw its boundaries, and determine the sanctions. The chapter then explores the moral and political arguments for and against the legal regulation of hate speech as such or, at least, some sub-categories of hate speech.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Freedom of Speech
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780198827580
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2021.


  • Abusive speech
  • Free speech
  • Hate speech
  • Hate speech legislation
  • Legal systems
  • Minority groups


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