20110483 - Extreme Speech and Digital Media

The course is intended to provide students with an in-depth analysis of a crucial topic in the normative framework of contemporary constitutional democracy, as well as in the public opinion. Students will be encouraged in engaging in critical discussions amongst them, and with the invited speakers (which will be expected to provide a methodologically and substantially diverse approach to the topic).
scheda docente | materiale didattico


The course will provide a critical introduction to various forms of extreme speech (hate speech, racism, pornography, blasphemy, Holocaust denialism, etc.) that nowadays pervade the public discourse through digital media. This will also require an analysis of the moral and political justifications of the principle of freedom of expression, and of its place in contemporary constitutonal democracies. While the principle of freedom of speech requires tolerance for dissent, harsh criticism, and disagreeable forms of expression, it is clear that extreme speech raises important theoretical and practical questions in a well-ordered society. For each form of extreme speech, the course will provide an in-depth analysis of existing legislation as well as of the relevant case law.

Testi Adottati

(the following materials will be made available through the e-learning platform of the University, https://giurisprudenza.el.uniroma3.it/, as well as other materials that can be useful or will be referenced during the course)

1) The Definition and Justifications of Freedom of Speech
Suggested readings:
F. Schauer, What Is Speech? The Question of Coverage, in The Oxford Handbook of Freedom of Speech, edited by Adrienne Stone and Frederick Schauer
W. Sadurski, Freedom of Speech and Its Limits, Kluwer, 1999, ch 1.

2) Forms of Extreme Speech

2.1) Hate Speech
Suggested readings:
Alon Harel, Hate Speech, in The Oxford Handbook of Freedom of Speech, edited by Adrienne Stone and Frederick Schauer
Michel Rosenfeld, Hate Speech in Constitutional Jurisprudence: A Comparative Analysis, in Cardozo Law Review, 2003.

2.2) Pornography
Suggested readings:
Caroline West, Pornography. In The Oxford Handbook of Freedom of Speech, edited by Adrienne Stone and Frederick Schauer
American Booksellers Association, Inc. v. William H. Hudnut, III, Mayor, City of Indianapolis, 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985)

2.3) Political extremism and Terrorist Speech
HCtHR, Belkacem v Belgium (2017)

2.4) Blasphemy
HCtHR, Otto-Preminger-Institute vs. Austria (1994)
HCtHR, Pussy Riot case (2018)

2.4) Holocaust Denialism
Suggested readings:
Rafael Cohen-Almagor, (2009). Holocaust denial is form of hate speech. Amsterdam Law
Forum, 2(1), 33-42.

2.5) Fake News
Suggested readings:
C. Sunstein, Does the First Amendment Protect Falsehoods? A Framework, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 23-02
Cass R. Sunstein, Falsehoods and the First Amendment, in Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Volume 33, Number 2 Spring 2020

Modalità Erogazione

In-person classes, with active involvement of students in research work and presentations

Modalità Frequenza

la frequenza a lezione non è obbligatoria, ma è fortemente consigliata

Modalità Valutazione

oral exam. Students who will be attending in class shall be evaluated also on the basis of their presential work