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Great Expectations: Antisemitism and the Politics of Free-Speech Jurisprudence

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores whether anti-Zionist expression is a type of hate speech (specifically, anti-Semitic hate speech), and whether, from the standpoint of American constitutional law, hate speech is constitutionally protected under the first amendment. Two cases involving free speech in a hostile audience situation are illustrative. A hostile audience case arises when a speaker addresses a large group of people who begin to get upset and threaten possible violence. The speaker is humming along, "Blah, blah, blah", but people in the crowd start to complain, "Murmur, murmur, murmur". If we compare these two hostile audience cases, in the first, Terminiello, the Court protected inflammatory anti-Semitic speech, while in the second, Feiner, the Court allowed the punishment of speech largely criticizing public officials and encouraging African Americans to take political action. Most commentators agree that one can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic.

Keywords: anti-Semitic hate speech; anti-Semitism; anti-Zionist expression; hostile audience case; Israel



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