Does it Matter How One Opposes Hate Speech Bans? A Critical Commentary on Liberté Pour L’Histoire's Opposition to French Memory Laws

45 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2014

See all articles by Robert Kahn

Robert Kahn

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This paper examines Liberté pour l'Histoire, a group of French historians who led the charge against that nation’s memory laws, in the process raising unique arguments not found elsewhere in the debate over hate speech law. Some of these arguments – such as a focus on how the constitutional structure of the Fifth Republic encouraged memory laws – advance our understanding of the connection between hate speech bans and political institutions. Other arguments, however, are more problematic. In particular, Liberté historians struggle to distinguish the Holocaust (which is illegal to deny) from the Armenian Genocide (which is not). The Liberté historians also quite hostile toward multiculturalism. While this reflects the French culture in which the historians operate, it is normatively quite unappealing. This is especially true given the existence of other, more inclusive European arguments against hate speech regulation, such as those of Danish cartoon publisher Flemming Rose and Maltese Judge Giovanni Bonello. There has to be a better, more inclusive way to oppose French memory laws.

Keywords: Hate Speech, Holocaust denial, Multiculturalism, Armenian Genocide, French Exceptionalism, Freedom of Speech

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Robert, Does it Matter How One Opposes Hate Speech Bans? A Critical Commentary on Liberté Pour L’Histoire's Opposition to French Memory Laws (2014). U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2416553 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2416553

Robert Kahn (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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