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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Our allegiance to individualism sanctions the insult, with or without humor, to a significant extent through free speech rights. But what if the sting of symbolic aggression––as seemingly minor as an insult dressed up in the pleasantries of a joke––in fact accounts in many instances for the more acute pain of the physical assault? To be sure, physical assaults can harm material well-being. But what if a dimension of violence cannot be understood apart from the cruelty of the joke or the sting of ridicule? What if a shaming insult constitutes the significant sting of racial discrimination or sexual assault?

Keywords: shame, ridicule, insult, rape, social bonds

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