The Dignity in Free Speech: Civility Norms in Post-Terror Societies

Journal article

Lysaker, Odin & Henrik Syse (2016) The Dignity in Free Speech: Civility Norms in Post-Terror Societies, Nordic Journal of Human Rights 34 (2): 104–123.

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It is difficult to strike a balance between protecting freedom of speech and ensuring public safety. The attacks on 22 July 2011 in Norway, and the fear of terrorist acts inspired by public utterances on the Internet, have caused many to question whether and how we should regulate hate speech. In this article, we analyse the main arguments from the debate on freedom of speech in post-terror Norway, termed the ‘liberal’ and ‘harm’ (or ‘balance of harms’) arguments respectively. We propose a set of civility norms that may serve to uphold the wide freedom of speech advocated by the liberal argument, while being attentive to the real ethical challenges emphasised by the harm argument.

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