HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship


“It is difficult to think of anyone better suited to write about the idea of ‘hate speech’ than Nadine Strossen.… [She] has dedicated her career to the defense of civil liberties and to the First Amendment. It is therefore fitting that at this turbulent time in our nation’s history she should re-enter the debate in an effort to shed light on some of the issues that divide our nation today. Strossen stakes out a bold and important claim about how best to protect both equality and freedom.” —Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

“While other countries provide significant protection for free expression, the United States provides a significantly elevated level of protection, particularly for hateful speech. Nadine Strossen’s insightful and eminently readable study on why we protect such speech and why we should continue to do is an all-too-rare example of first-rate legal scholarship that the public at large can learn from and savor reading.” —Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Adjunct Professor, NYU Law School; Author, The Soul of the First Amendment

“Nadine Strossen is one of the great civil libertarians of our day. This book provides a powerful and subtle defense of free speech. Don’t miss it!” —Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, Harvard Divinity School

In the United States, the First Amendment protects free speech for everyone, ensuring the right of unpopular and yes, even hateful voices to be heard. You’ll recall the quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

In her new book HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford University Press, May 2018) Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1991 to 2008, argues that expanding free speech, not limiting it, is the solution for changing the hearts and minds of those who espouse hateful ideologies. She dispels many of the myths and misunderstandings that have permeated the debates about what constitutes “hate speech,” including what is and isn’t protected language, and affirms that we don’t have to choose between civil rights and civil liberties, or between free speech and equality.

Strossen’s powerful argument promises to elevate the conversation around why freedom of speech cannot mean freedom to express popular sentiment only. We must tolerate all speech even when it supports intolerance, or we may find we’ve given away our own right to speak against it. As Thomas Paine noted, “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”