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Freedom of speech is a widely agreed upon principle in free democratic societies. However, at the same time, it is at the centre of fierce and wide-ranging disputes. This subject will examine the rationales for protection of freedom of speech and key controversies about freedom of speech. The subject will be broadly comparative, examining the legal protection of freedom of speech in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America. Jurisdictions of particular focus (in addition to Australia) will include India, Malaysia, Germany, the United States and Canada.
Principal topics include:
- Normative arguments for freedom of speech and for the regulation of speech
- The legal mechanisms for protection freedom of speech in international law and selected domestic jurisdictions
- The relationship between freedom of speech and laws regulating:
- racial and religious vilification (including holocaust denial)
- political protest
- electoral funding
- terrorism and national security.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Understand why arguments persist to regulate hate speech
- Be able to elucidate how and why/why not the regulation of hate speech is consistent with international norms aimed at preserving free speech
- Explain a variety of approaches to the legal regulation of hate speech
- Formulate coherent arguments concerning the appropriate regulatory response to particular instances of hate speech.
Last updated: 2 December 2019