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Toleration and Calumny: Bayle, Locke, Montesquie and Voltaire on Religious Hate Speech

25 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2010 Last revised: 1 Dec 2010

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: October 29, 2010

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?

Keywords: Bayle, Defamation, Enlightenment, Hate Speech, Locke, Toleration

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Toleration and Calumny: Bayle, Locke, Montesquie and Voltaire on Religious Hate Speech (October 29, 2010). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-80. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1699895 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1699895

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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