An Economic Argument Opposing Regulation of 'Harmful Speech'

Posted: 18 Aug 2018

See all articles by Daniel Pi

Daniel Pi

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: August 5, 2018

Abstract

A common justification for exception to general speech rights is that a class of expressive activity is "harmful." The argument is essentially economic, pointing to the social cost of harmful speech. This paper identifies three countervailing effects which undermine the received view, demonstrating that even if the harmfulness of a speech category were granted arguendo, deterrence of such speech could result in no improvement in social welfare, or even exacerbate the total harm.

Keywords: First Amendment, Freedom of Expression, Free Speech, Incitement, Obscenity, Profanity, Offense, Defamation, Libel, Slander, Fighting Words, Fake News

JEL Classification: K38, K42

Suggested Citation

Pi, Daniel, An Economic Argument Opposing Regulation of 'Harmful Speech' (August 5, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3226476

Daniel Pi (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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