We love freedom. We hate racism. But what do we do when these values collide? In this wide-ranging book, Erik Bleich explores policies that the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other liberal democracies have implemented when forced to choose between preserving freedom and combating racism. Bleich's comparative historical approach reveals that while most countries have increased restrictions on racist speech, groups and actions since the end of World War II, this trend has resembled a slow creep more than a slippery slope. Each country has struggled to achieve a balance between protecting freedom and reducing racism, and the outcomes have been starkly different across time and place. Building on these observations, Bleich argues that we should pay close attention to the specific context and to the likely effects of any policy we implement, and that any response should be proportionate to the level of harm the racism inflicts. Ultimately, the best way for societies to preserve freedom while fighting racism is through processes of public deliberation that involve citizens in decisions that impact the core values of liberal democracies.
"An important, innovative book. Bleich shows us how much we can learn, both empirically and normatively, when we examine controversial public issues in comparative perspective."--Joseph H. Carens, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
"Simultaneously sweeping and meticulous, Erik Bleich's important examination of different national and legal responses to racial hate speech provides exactly the proper balance of insight and incitement."--Paul Frymer, Associate Professor of Politics, Princeton University
"On a subject that usually generates more shouting and ranting than careful, reasoned analysis, Erik Bleich has written a wise and illuminating book that should be essential reading for anyone who cares about the health of modern societies."--Robert C. Lieberman, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs, Columbia University
"Bleich has produced an outstanding book. His argument that varying restrictions on free speech are tolerable is a major intellectual advance. The book will stand out as an impressive contribution to multiple literatures."--Randall Hansen, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
"Bleich's study is unusually sophisticated in charting the dynamic interaction amongst social movements, legal doctrine, and state imperatives over time and through diverse contexts. This astute book will be of interest to scholars and general readers alike concerned with the past and future of freedom and equality in the world's modern liberal democracies."--Ken I. Kersch, Associate Professor of Political Science, History, and Law, Boston College
"Erik Bleich's new book is an excellent comparative study of hate speech and hate crime laws. The Freedom to Be Racist
is an engaging work that studies how several liberal democracies balance the values of free speech and the regulation of racist communication. ... Overall, I highly commend this book to the students of hate speech and hate crime regulations. It is well-researched work that deserves wide attention from specialists, students, and legislators interested in deepening their knowledge of a timely subject." --Political Science Quarterly