Killing the Microphone: When Broadcast Freedom Should Yield to Genocide Prevention

36 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014

See all articles by Carol Pauli

Carol Pauli

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: August 18, 2009


When powerful radio broadcasts exhort listeners to kill their neighbors, may outside nations or international organizations legally interrupt the signals to prevent genocide? International law has no legal framework for assessing and responding to such broadcasts. This Article attempts to create one. The Article draws on empirical research in the field of communication to identify conditions in which media messages become so powerful that they can mobilize audience members. Using this research, it constructs a framework for determining when speech constitutes incitement to genocide such that it loses any protection under international law and perhaps even triggers an affirmative duty on the part of other states to intervene. The proposed framework is unique. Unlike current definitions of incitement to genocide, it is not concerned with convicting the criminal, but aims entirely at preventing the crime. It is also unique in bringing this interdisciplinary approach to this compelling goal.

Keywords: broadcast, communication, genocide, international, intervention, prevention, radio, speech, telecommunication

Suggested Citation

Pauli, Carol, Killing the Microphone: When Broadcast Freedom Should Yield to Genocide Prevention (August 18, 2009). Alabama Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 4, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Carol Pauli (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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