Toleration and Calumny: Bayle, Locke, Montesquie and Voltaire on Religious Hate Speech
25 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2010 Last revised: 1 Dec 2010
Date Written: October 29, 2010
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?
Keywords: Bayle, Defamation, Enlightenment, Hate Speech, Locke, Toleration
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