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Racist Speech or Free Speech? A Comparison of the Law in France and the United States

Karen L. Bird
Comparative Politics
Vol. 32, No. 4 (Jul., 2000), pp. 399-418
DOI: 10.2307/422386
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/422386
Page Count: 20
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Racist Speech or Free Speech? A Comparison of the Law in France and the United States
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Abstract

The United States has extended broad protection to racist speech, while France has imposed strict limits. Proscription of racist speech in the U.S. has proven impossible because of limitations on state authority, shallow attention to the equality of rights, and a strong focus on minority rights. France has placed considerable confidence in the collective authority to prohibit racist speech, both to secure democratic order and to protect the equal rights of all citizens. One practical effect of the French law has been to promote race consciousness and to transfer the public interest in combating racism to private groups.

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