When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?

When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality

Corey Brettschneider
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
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    When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?
    Book Description:

    How should a liberal democracy respond to hate groups and others that oppose the ideal of free and equal citizenship? The democratic state faces the hard choice of either protecting the rights of hate groups and allowing their views to spread, or banning their views and violating citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, association, and religion. Avoiding the familiar yet problematic responses to these issues, political theorist Corey Brettschneider proposes a new approach called value democracy. The theory of value democracy argues that the state should protect the right to express illiberal beliefs, but the state should also engage in democratic persuasion when it speaks through its various expressive capacities: publicly criticizing, and giving reasons to reject, hate-based or other discriminatory viewpoints.

    Distinguishing between two kinds of state action--expressive and coercive--Brettschneider contends that public criticism of viewpoints advocating discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation should be pursued through the state's expressive capacities as speaker, educator, and spender. When the state uses its expressive capacities to promote the values of free and equal citizenship, it engages in democratic persuasion. By using democratic persuasion, the state can both respect rights and counter hateful or discriminatory viewpoints. Brettschneider extends this analysis from freedom of expression to the freedoms of religion and association, and he shows that value democracy can uphold the protection of these freedoms while promoting equality for all citizens.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4237-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-23)

    A recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center suggests that hate groups advocating racist ideologies have been on the rise in the United States since the election of the first African American president.¹ In the advanced democracies of Europe, studies of public opinion show that anti-Muslim hostility is a growing problem.² As evidence mounts of increasing bigotry on both sides of the Atlantic, questions of how to respond to hate speech have become more pressing.

    Traditionally, political and legal theorists have proposed two types of responses to hate speech. Some thinkers have stressed the need for a neutral approach...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Principle of Public Relevance and Democratic Persuasion VALUE DEMOCRACY’S TWO GUIDING IDEAS
    (pp. 24-50)

    Value democracy seeks to avoid the dystopias of both the Invasive State and the Hateful Society. Unlike the Invasive State, value democracy respects rights, and unlike the Hateful Society, it criticizes inegalitarian viewpoints that oppose the values central to democratic legitimacy. Since value democracy criticizes hateful or discriminatory viewpoints, it can answer the problem of complicity and the concern about regime stability raised by the paradox of rights. Value democracy aims to respond to the paradox of rights by demonstrating that the democratic state can give voice to its own values without abandoning its core commitments to freedom of speech,...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Publicly Justifiable Privacy and Reflective Revision by Citizens
    (pp. 51-70)

    In the province of Manitoba, the Canadian government’s restrictions on hate speech reached into the domain of the family when a girl raised by racist parents was removed from her home. The judge in the case made clear that one of the reasons for the removal was the fact that the girl’s parents had decorated their home with Nazi paraphernalia and were teaching their child the most heinous of racist views. For instance, the girl stated in school that black people should “die.” An investigation of the family’s home also revealed that the house was decorated with swastikas celebrating the...

    (pp. 71-108)

    The principle of public relevance elaborated in the last chapter offers a way of avoiding the excesses of the Hateful Society. Life within the family and civil society should not automatically be regarded as immune from considerations of free and equal citizenship. To the contrary, the ideal of public citizenship applies to the beliefs of family members and participants in civil society, according to my publicly relevant conception of privacy. But one might worry that in emphasizing this answer to the Hateful Society, I now risk veering toward the dangers of the Invasive State. How does value democracy protect rights...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Democratic Persuasion and State Subsidy
    (pp. 109-141)

    Value democracy aims to protect rights and to persuade the opponents of free and equal citizenship to change their views. In the previous chapter, I argued that the state should actively pursue democratic persuasion, given the problem of complicity that can accompany neutralist protections of free speech. The problem of complicity arises because the state’s protection of free speech rights might be confused with its condoning the hateful messages that are expressed using those rights. I pointed out that the state can avoid complicity with hateful expression if it engages in democratic persuasion. By criticizing hate groups and promoting the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Religious Freedom and the Reasons for Rights
    (pp. 142-167)

    In chapters 2 and 3, I argued that views at odds with the ideals of free and equal citizenship, even when expressed in the family and in civil society, should be subject both to reflective revision by citizens and to democratic persuasion by the state. On my account, such beliefs are not cordoned off into a “private” realm where public values do not apply. But what are the implications of value democracy for inegalitarian beliefs that are religious in nature? Does a concern to protect religious freedom mean that these beliefs should never be criticized by the state? In short,...

  10. CONCLUSION Value Democracy at Home and Abroad
    (pp. 168-174)

    I began this book by exploring two dystopias that symbolize the fears of two major theories about the relation between rights and equality. The dystopia of the Invasive State evokes the liberal fear of a government that seeks to promote equality at any expense, with no respect for the boundary between the public and the private. The Invasive State would spy on the family and civil society, intervening whenever it would be necessary to protect an ideal of equality. At the opposite extreme, the dystopia of the Hateful Society would allow discriminatory viewpoints and deeply inegalitarian practices to thrive in...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 175-198)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-206)
  13. Index
    (pp. 207-216)