Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective

Forthcoming in Schauer/Stone (eds), Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2019)

31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2019

See all articles by Christoph Bezemek

Christoph Bezemek

University of Graz, Faculty of Law, Institute of Public Law and Political Science

Date Written: June 12, 2019

Abstract

Free speech, it is said, is the necessary prerequisite to “speak truth to power”. And of course: those in power may often (or maybe even: typically) dislike the truth thus spoken. But how far does that go? Does free speech give license to verbally attack or to outright insult those acting in an official capacity? And if not: according to which criteria is the line to be drawn between protected speech and unprotected insult? The paper addresses these and other questions related to the topic from the perspective of the First Amendment to the US Constitution and International Human Rights Law.

Keywords: Free Speech, Insult, Public Officials, Public Figures, Fighting Words, Open Discourse, Freedom of Expression, slander

Suggested Citation

Bezemek, Christoph, Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective (June 12, 2019). Forthcoming in Schauer/Stone (eds), Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3435996

Christoph Bezemek (Contact Author)

University of Graz, Faculty of Law, Institute of Public Law and Political Science ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 15 / FE
A-8010 Graz, 8010
Austria

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