Can language cause harm? Can a speech act be an act of violence? These are important questions – especially in times when citing the right to freedom of expression is used as a way to legitimize hate speech. This is a tactic employed by people like the Danish right-wing politician Rasmus Paludan (henceforth RP), who uses ‘freedom of speech’ as a shield to say very negative things about Muslims (among others). It is always interesting to expand your linguistic horizons, so in this blog post I will attempt to examine hate speech and linguistic violence with insights from affect theory and philosophy.
To understand how language can be violence, let us begin by considering professor and philosopher Judith … ↪