Jeremy Waldron: The Harm in Hate SpeechHarvard University Press, 2012 | Jeremy Waldron, born 1953

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In his controversial and influential book, The Harm in Hate Speech, Jeremy Waldron questions the United States’ stubborn refusal to regulate offensive speech. Waldron’s argument suggests that there is a serious difficulty in the “harm principle” — John Stuart Mill’s distinction between actual harm and mere speech — by focusing on the less tangible, but no less significant, harm that offensive speech can produce. In particular, Waldron emphasizes the damage that hate speech can do to democratic society by undermining citizens’ sense of dignity and assurance of security under law.




Waldron, Jeremy. The Harm in Hate Speech. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Find it on Amazon.

Find it on JSTOR (restricted access).



Lewis, Anthony. Freedom for the Thought that We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment. New York: Basic Books, 2007.

Waldron’s The Harm in Hate Speech takes aim at Lewis’ book which defends a more “absolutist,” or libertarian view of the First Amendment, devoting a whole chapter to responding to it.

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Interview with Jeremy Waldron on The Harm in Hate Speech

NYU Law School Forum: Right to Say: Freedom, Respect, and Campus Speech

“Free to Hate.” Debate between Jeremy Waldron and Azhar Majeed (Program Director, FIRE)

Interview with Jeremy Waldron in On the Media

Listen to it at WNYC.

“Understanding and regulating hate speech: A symposium on Jeremy Waldron’s The Harm
in Hate Speech.” Contemporary Political Theory 13 (2014): 88–109.

Download it from Tariq Modood’s website (pdf).