Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship

Professor Eric Heinze, Professor of Law and Humanities, Queen Mary University London

In this Max Watson Memorial Lecture, Professor Eric Heinze calls for bans on hate speech to be abolished, and makes a stirring defence of free speech.
He argues that, rather than a form of ‘free speech absolutism’, he is instead arguing that no limits can be legitimately placed on public discourse, since this is a fundamental and essential component of democratic society itself.
Drawing on his extensive research in Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Nordic countries, Professor Heinze shows that, despite the introduction of ever-tougher sanctions on hate speech, there is little evidence to suggest that they have any effect in reducing instances of hate speech in the countries concerned.