Hate Speech

A couple of people have commented on my use of the term "hate speech" in a previous post. The idea of "hate speech" as it is used in the U.S. is that there may be speech intended to degrade or incite violence against people based on their ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation. Which means that there may be some speech that isn't protected under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Not surprising…there are plenty of things that we can't say without incurring possible punishment. A Canadian law professor named Catharine McKinnon, in a book written in the early 90s called Only Words, takes the idea of hate speech further and claims that there may be some speech which is not simply speech. In her view, such speech is in fact oppression.

Even if the term "hate speech" is not used outside of the U.S., many countries, including the UK, Germany, Canada, Iceland and others, have codified laws that regulate and/or punish hate speech.  Ditto for the Council of Europe. The idea has already criss-crossed the Atlantic numerous times. Here are some examples, and articles on both sides of the debate.  I do think that the concept is often misused, and not  discussed cogently, and I also think it's ultimately a losing proposition over the long term.  But it merits a serious discussion about equality and power, as freedom of speech and expression don't live in a vacuum.  Probably wishful thinking.



  1. on your reading list for 2006:

    just checked the table of contents for the The Vintage book of Latin American stories, and one of them is from Maria Luisa Puga. You have her first novel, I gave it to you: Las Posibilidades del Odio.

    I like the selection, is quite thorough, it even includes Brazilian authors (Clarice Lispector*). I say “even” because unfortunately sometimes there is an artificial division because of the language: Iberoamerica (only Spanish speaking countries) vs Latinoamerica (including Brasil, a Portuguese speaking country). But that mistake is made mostly by Spanish editors,and this one is made by Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican guy, who spent his childhood in Chile.

    From the Divine Assistance,


  2. Yes, I remember the novel you gave me. Don’t kill me, but I haven’t read it yet (My Spanish is not that good that I can read novels). Oddly enough, there seem to be very few collections of Latin American short stories (or Iberoamerican for that matter) available in English translation. Picador put out a collection some years ago I believe, and there’s one that I saw by Iberoameric an women writers, but I hate reading just one gender.

    Luis Loayza, who wrote my favorite story in the collection, had published a book of short stories which I would love to find. I think it was translated into English as well. Any ideas about where I could get a copy of this?

    Carlos Fuentes used to come into PAS fairly often. Often referral/visa issues. He was a friend of Bertha’s I think, and the higher-ups jealously guarded all contact with him.


  3. Don’t worry about not yet reading the book I gave you. It’s yours. Just a suggestion, take care of it, it’s no longer available, except in 2nd hand bookstares.

    Sorry to read that you were not able to have personal contact with Fuentes. So far, I haven’t met him either, but mom did. She gave me the scoop on his Chilean childhood.

    Which is the book of Loayza you’re looking for?


  4. it’s at The Library of Congress. I sent the record to your email. Perhaps you can ask the DOS library to request it as interlibrary loan.


  5. Thanks! You’re star! I’ll see if they’ll eb able to get it. I guess I can’t get it directly from the LOC. I wonder if I can download the electronic version to my iPod…that would be good…and a violation of a billion copyright laws, I’m sure. So do you miss working at the BBF?


  6. They should be able to request for it. I don’t think it is digitalized, but maybe I’m wrong.

    What I miss about the BBF is the opportunity of seeing new books every week. Also to browse the magazines. But I hated, hated, HATED the new premises, so every day that I’m able to sit by a window (like now) I’m grateful that I’m no longer there.


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