Regulating "hate spin": The limits of law in managing religious incitement and offense

Cherian George*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


As democracies try to manage the risks arising from religious vilification, questions are being raised about free speech and its limits. This article clarifies key issues in that debate. It centers on the phenomenon of "hate spin"-the giving or taking of offense as a political strategy. Any policy response must try to distinguish between incitement to actual harms and expression that becomes the object of manufactured indignation. An analysis of the use of hate spin by right-wing groups in India and the United States demonstrates that laws against incitement, while necessary, are insufficient for dealing with highly organized hate campaigns. As for laws against offense, these are counterproductive, because they tend to empower the most intolerant sections of society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2955-2972
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • Censorship
  • First Amendment
  • Freedom of expression
  • Hate speech
  • Incitement
  • India
  • Offense
  • United States


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