5.4.5.1 Limits to Free Speech for Legal Consistency

Crime prevention is a key aspect of legal power: preventing murder is clearly better than just focussing on catching and punishing the criminal, so it is logical to prohibit people from inciting others to commit a crime.  Although the crime itself has not yet been committed, the incitement makes it more likely to occur.  Thomas Scanlon, in A Theory of Freedom of Expression, identified examples of battery, assault, defamation, conspiracy and incitement where freedom of speech would not necessarily provide a defence. [pp. 158-159]

The Economist reported on one notorious example, The mosque at Ayodhya, of legal impunity in the absence of a law against incitement.  The Indian BJP leader, Mr Advani, could not be prosecuted although: “[a]fter whipping up his followers, he and several other senior BJP leaders looked on as the mosque was razed with pickaxes and bare hands.”

Back

Next

This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5451a.htm