Regulating "Hate Spin": The Limits of Law in Managing Religious Incitement and Offense

Cherian George


As democracies try to manage the risks arising from religious vilification, questions are being raised about free speech and its limits. This article clarifies key issues in that debate. It centers on the phenomenon of “hate spin”—the giving or taking of offense as a political strategy. Any policy response must try to distinguish between incitement to actual harms and expression that becomes the object of manufactured indignation. An analysis of the use of hate spin by right-wing groups in India and the United States demonstrates that laws against incitement, while necessary, are insufficient for dealing with highly organized hate campaigns. As for laws against offense, these are counterproductive, because they tend to empower the most intolerant sections of society.


hate speech, incitement, offense, freedom of expression, censorship, India, United States, First Amendment

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