New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type

Article

Abstract

There is a considerable literature on the issue of hate speech. And there is a considerable literature on religious toleration (both contemporary and historic). But the two have not been brought into relation with one another. In this paper, I consider how the argument for religious toleration extends beyond a requirement of non-persection and non-establishment. I consider its application to the question of religious vituperation. The focus of the paper is on 17th and 18th century theories. Locke, Bayle and other Enlightenment thinkers imagined a tolerant society as a society free of hate speech: the kind of religious peace that they envisaged was a matter of civility not just non-persecution. The paper also considers the costs of placing limits (legal or social limits) on religious hate-speech: does this interfere with the forceful expression of religious antipathy which (for some people) the acceptance of their creed requires?

Date of Authorship for this Version

12-2010

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