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The Hateful and the Obscene: Studies in the…

The Hateful and the Obscene: Studies in the Limits of Free Expression…

by L. W. Sumner

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This book examines what limits may be acceptable to freedom of expression by exploring harms that may be caused by pornography or hate speech. It is well written; scholarly and theorhetical yet easy to read. However, I didn't agree with his premise that limits to free speech should be assessed only by looking at direct harm. I think this displays a misunderstading of the harms that can flow from pornography and hate speech.

I would have liked Mr. Sumner to do a little more comparative analysis between pornography and hate speech. The latter is almost always treated as a crime by its very nature; the former is not usually.

The book looks at state limits to freedom of expression. Yet, the state is often not the most oppressive force limiting the free expression --- for example, the freedom of battered women, or victims of racial discrimination.

The author admitted that he structured his analysis from his own narrow perspective, and I was left wondering how often this happens in myriad areas of public policy writing and thinking. ( )
  LynnB | Jan 23, 2008 |
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"In a series of landmark decisions since 1990, Canadian courts have shaped a distinctive approach to the regulation of obscenity, hate literature, and child pornography. Missing from the debate, however, has been any attempt to determine whether the legal status quo can be justified by reference to a framework of moral/political principles. The Hateful and the Obscene is intended to fill that gap." "The Hateful and the Obscene is an interpretation of freedom of expression that combines serious philosophical thought with a focus on Canadian law, thus offering the breadth capable of dealing with both obscenity and hate literature."--Jacket.… (more)

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