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Speak No Evil

The Triumph of Hate Speech Regulation

Speak No Evil

The Triumph of Hate Speech Regulation

Opponents of speech codes often argue that liberal academics use the codes to advance an agenda of political correctness. But Jon B. Gould’s provocative book, based on an enormous amount of empirical evidence, reveals that the real reasons for their growth are to be found in the pragmatic, almost utilitarian, considerations of college administrators. Instituting hate speech policy, he shows, was often a symbolic response taken by university leaders to reassure campus constituencies of their commitment against intolerance. In an academic version of "keeping up with the Joneses," some schools created hate speech codes to remain within what they saw as the mainstream of higher education. Only a relatively small number of colleges crafted codes out of deep commitment to their merits.

Although college speech codes have been overturned by the courts, Speak No Evil argues that their rise has still had a profound influence on curtailing speech in other institutions such as the media and has also shaped mass opinion and common understandings of constitutional norms. Ultimately, Gould contends, this kind of informal law can have just as much power as the Constitution.

224 pages | 1 line drawing, 12 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Education: Education--Economics, Law, Politics

Law and Legal Studies: Law and Society


"Speak No Evil is an interesting inquiry into the debate and practice of hate speech regulation on college campuses, and beyond. This fascinating study surpasses the usual legalistic and policy questions to look at how hate speech regulation has developed and thrived in American institutional settings. It is original, compelling, and most convincing."

Michael McCann, coauthor of Distorting the Law

"In Speak No Evil, Jon Gould makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of law and social change. His complex, provocative, and relentlessly empirical examination of hate speech regulation on college campuses expands our understanding of law and legality as they are enacted by institutions. Drawing upon a wide range of data, both qualitative and quantitative, Gould elucidates the dynamic process through which formal law and informal legality—or what he calls ’mass constitutionalism’—emerge and interact."

Patty Ewick, coauthor of The Common Place of Law

"Jon Gould has brought invaluable new insight to the subject of hate speech and speech codes. Instead of simply analyzing campus speech restrictions and the court cases that have invalidated those rules, Gould has sought explanations for the adoption of such constraints, and thus unsettles much of the conventional wisdom about why speech codes came into being and the purposes they were designed to serve. His thoughtful analysis benefits from a keen understanding of this complex subject, and anyone thinking about adopting, revising, replacing—or for that matter, challenging—a campus speech code needs to read Gould’s book."

Robert M. O'Neil, author of The First Amendment and Civil Liability

"Speak No Evil makes an important contribution to understanding the regulation of hate speech and the development of constitutional rights in a democratic society. This exciting and important book compels readers to reassess how constitutional meanings are made outside the courts. Writing on a subject that has received mostly polemical and ideological attention, Gould offers an evenhanded, rich, and penetrating analysis. The wealth of data alone makes the book a major contribution."<Gerald N. Rosenberg, author of The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?>

Gerald N. Rosenberg, author of The Hollow Hope

"An important and much needed new book. . . . Readable, balanced, free of jargon, and comprehensive in scope, this book is a must-read for scholars of the First Amendment and legal mobilization. and is sufficiently accessible for use in upper level undergraduate courses in civil liberties and law and society."

Brian Pinaire | Law and Politics Book Review

"Speak No Evil is dispassionate and empirically based. On this heated topic, its sense of authorial distance and reliance on data are welcome. . . . The challenge . . . [is] to foster an environment in which difficult dialogues can occur. Gould’s book moves us closer to thinking about how to create such an environment."

William G. Tierney | Educational Researcher

"Gould presents a timely analysis of the contentious debate on the limits of free speech on campus. . . . Gould has certainly written an important book that should be read by most, if not all, faculty and university administrators."

Michael Boudreau | CAUT Bullettin

Table of Contents

1. Background and Chronology
2. Theoretical Implications
3. The Rise of Hate Speech Codes
4. The Courts Act
5. While They Slept
6. The Triumph of Hate Speech Regulation
Appendix: Methodology and Data Sources


Law and Society Association: Herbert Jacob Book Prize

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