All Those Like You: Identity Aggression and Student Speech

39 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013

See all articles by Ari Ezra Waldman

Ari Ezra Waldman

Northeastern University; Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy

Date Written: 2012


Online and face-to-face harassment in schools requires a coordinated response from the school, parents, students, and government. In this Article, I address a particular subset of online and face-to-face harassment, or identity-based harassment. Identity-based aggressors highlight a quality intrinsic to someone’s personhood and demean it, deprive it of value, and use it as a weapon. They attack women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and other traditionally victimized groups. And, as such, they attack not only their particular victims but also their victims’ communities. Identity-based aggressors com- mit a constitutional evil not only because their behavior interferes with victims’ access to education, their liberty to express who they are, and their right to participate in our body politic, but also because aggressors perpetuate the legitimacy of a malodorous social stigma attached to any given minority.

This Article argues that identity-based aggression need not be conflated with identity-affirming speech, both as a matter of its social effects and the First Amendment. Only a limiting liberal/libertarian approach to free speech would prevent schools from disciplining identity cyberbullies and face-to-face harassers and simultaneously force schools to silence speech that is necessary to make minorities full and equal players in education and in society as a whole. Implications of this theory are discussed.

Keywords: Bullying, harassment, cyberbullying, cyberbullies, hate, Internet, free speech, schools, education, LGBT, First Amendment, sociology

Suggested Citation

Waldman, Ari Ezra, All Those Like You: Identity Aggression and Student Speech (2012). Missouri Law Review, Vol. 77, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Ari Ezra Waldman (Contact Author)

Northeastern University

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy ( email )

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