Responding to Hate Speech: Counterspeech and the University (Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law)

Drawing on speech act theory from philosophy of language, we argue that a university leader’s silence in these situations whether literal or in the form of ineffective counterspeech is not a neutral response. Such silence accommodates injustice. However; a leader who engages in counterspeech can challenge the hate speech’s legitimacy and prevent it from resetting the terms of debate in such a way that the discrimination in the hate speech becomes normalized, even if this counterspeech cannot undo the harm entirely.

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