Comparative Politics

Indignity or Offense? A Survey-Experimental Inquiry into Behavioral Foundations of Hate Speech Regulation



What justifies regulating hate speech in democratic societies? In this paper, we conduct a survey experiment and highlight the concept of dignity as the cornerstone for such regulations. In political theory and constitutional law, the primacy of dignity as the moral and legislative justification for regulating hate speech has already been addressed by Jeremy Waldron and other “dignitarians,” especially in the course of debate with free speech advocates. Based on our survey experiment conducted in Japan, we show that citizens’ concerns about the dignity of a targeted victim lead them to support regulations strongly and consistently across a variety of treatment conditions. Our experiment further clarifies the possible mediation mechanisms of the dignitarian rationale, revealing not only the people’s public-centered expectation regarding the societal consequences of hate speech, which Waldron himself emphasized, but also the importance of more individual-based judgements regarding morality and justice, in shaping their regulatory attitudes.


Thumbnail image of hate_speech_APSA2020.pdf


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Comment number 1, Renzo Gracie Garwood: Apr 04, 2021, 02:38

Hi, thanks for this really thorough article. I enjoyed reading it and I will make good use of it.