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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an analysis of the key forms of linguistic censorship found within common law jurisdictions and examines their legal rationale in terms of the distinction between speech and conduct. Case law domains examined include blasphemy, public order offences, obscenity and key literary trials, broadcasting, popular music, trademark law, and personal names. The culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s over censorship involved a two-way clash between the establishment and progressive activists. Today, issues such as hate speech, misogyny, and online trolling offer a challenge to notions of social liberation through the ending of taboo. Identity politics provides a framework for understanding the harm associated with certain forms of linguistic behaviour. While in many domains law has retreated from linguistic censorship, legal systems as well as global social media corporations continue to debate whether and how to control linguistic expression in different domains.

Keywords: blasphemy, profanity, obscenity, hate speech, public order offences, trademarks, personal names, cyberspace, identity politics, speech versus conduct

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