Hate Speech and National Identity: The Case of the United States and Canada
Robert A. Kahn
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-02
US-Canadian differences in hate speech regulation represent a puzzle for comparative analysts. Doctrinal and historical approaches provide guidance but cannot explain how Americans justify the toleration of hate speech or Canadians justify its criminalization. To probe deeper, this paper looks at law review articles and book chapters written during the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when the debate over hate speech was in flux. An examination of references to Canada and the United States in the sample reveals that the participants in the debate over hate speech frequently fall back on national tropes concerning ethnic relations, race relations, and popular attitudes toward the state. These tropes provide starting points for comparative historical research and demonstrate the role that national identity plays in comparative legal analysis.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Hate speech, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, comparative lawworking papers series
Date posted: March 10, 2008 ; Last revised: May 12, 2010
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