What could be less lovable than the “hateful”? What person–and, indeed, what people–Hate.jpegcould feel anything but hate for the hateful? At a period of deep cultural and political fracture, the concept of the hateful performs important rhetorical and political work, providing the state with at least something, or some set of views, that serves as a unifying object of civic opprobrium, vilification, and even disgust. Here is a new book whose contributors appear to turn a helpfully critical eye on the concept of “hate” in law–Hate, Politics, Law: Critical Perspectives on Combating Hate (OUP), edited by Thomas Brudholm and Birgitte Schepelern Johansen.

References to hate have become ubiquitous in the modern response to group defamation and violence in liberal democracies. Whether expressed in speech, acted out in criminal conduct, or seen as the fuel of terror and extremism, hate is persistently considered a vice, an evil, and a threat to the modern liberal democracy. But what exactly is at stake when societies oppose hate?

In Hate, Politics, Law: Critical Perspectives on Combating Hate, Thomas Brudholm and Birgitte Schepelern Johansen have gathered a group of distinguished scholars who offer a critical exploration and assessment of the basic assumptions, ideals, and agendas behind the modern fight against hate. They explore these issues and provide a range of explanatory and normative perspectives on the awkward relationship between hate and liberal democracy, as expressed, for example, through anti-hate speech and anti-hate crime initiatives. The volume further examines the presuppositions and ideological roots of fighting hate, as well as its blind spots and limits. It also includes discussions on the definition and meaning of hate, the longer and broader history of the concept of hate, and when and why fighting hatred became politically salient. While most research on hate crime is written and published in order to prevent and combat hate, Hate, Politics, Law takes a much-needed theoretical, historical, and exploratory approach to hatred.

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