(Full text in pdf format)


Lars Binderup


University of Southern Denmark


Abstract. It has been suggested that the multicultural nature of modern liberal states (in particular the formation of immigration minorities from other cultures due to the process of globalisation) provides reasons – from a liberal egalitarian perspective – for recognising a civic or democratic norm, as opposed to a legal norm, that curbs exercises of the right to free speech that offend the feelings or beliefs of members from other cultural groups. The paper rejects the suggestion that acceptance of such a norm is in line with liberal egalitarian thinking. Following a review of the classical liberal egalitarian reasons for free speech – reasons from overall welfare, from autonomy and from respect for the equality of citizens – it is argued that these reasons outweigh the proposed reasons for curbing culturally offensive speech. Currently controversial cases such as that of the Danish Cartoon Controversy are used as illustrations.


Keywords: free speech, freedom of speech, multiculturalism, civic norms, democratic norms, offence





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