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Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective

Bezemek, Christoph, Insult of Public Officials: A Free Speech Perspective (June 12, 2019). Forthcoming in Schauer/Stone (eds), Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2019). Available at SSRN:

“Free speech, it is said, is the necessary prerequisite to “speak truth to power”. And of course: those in power may often (or maybe even: typically) dislike the truth thus spoken. But how far does that go? Does free speech give license to verbally attack or to outright insult those acting in an official capacity? And if not: according to which criteria is the line to be drawn between protected speech and unprotected insult? The paper addresses these and other questions related to the topic from the perspective of the First Amendment to the US Constitution and International Human Rights Law.”

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