Analysis of Caroline West’s Article, Words That Silence? Freedom of Express and Racist Hate Speech

791 Words Feb 2nd, 2018 3 Pages
Freedom of Express and Racist Hate Speech.” Here West probes what is meant by free speech and in so doing, identifies three dimensions of speech from which the value of free speech derives. These are production and distribution, comprehension, and consideration. Her major premise is that absent requirements of comprehension or consideration, free speech lacks the value it is generally accorded. West argues that allowing the production and distribution of racist hate speech has a silencing effect on, not only the production and distribution of speech by racial minorities, but the comprehension and consideration of their speech as well. She concludes that this silencing may have a net effect of diminishing free speech. The first dimension of speech that West identifies is perhaps also the most basic part of what is comprehended in the term ‘free speech’: the production and distribution of words. West suggests several ways in which the free distribution of racist hate speech can deprive its targets of the ability to do the same. There is the threat implicit in racist hate speech due to the history of racially motivated violence, the physiological ‘speechlessness’ that can take hold in the aftermath of a fear response such as a hate speech may provoke, and the damage to self-esteem which may prevent the targets of racial hate speech from feeling themselves to have any…
Open Document