Hate Speech

Hate speech is defined as “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.”

Hate speech generally includes slurs and is intended to incite hatred and violence against a group. Symbols may also be considered a form of hate speech. For example, the Nazi swastika, the Confederate flag, the Aryan fist, and a burning cross all represent hate speech.

Hate speech causes psychological and emotional harm, but when it is acted on, it can cause physical harm to the people to whom it is directed. One reason for this is that historically, the people who are victims to hate speech in most cases, have a long record of suffering. In this instance, hate speech continues the oppression.

The U.S. defends hate speech as freedom of speech. Other democracies such as Canada, France, Germany, and New Zealand have passed laws that ban hate speech.