From racist cartoons and spray-painted anti-Semitic symbols to protest chants and signs condemning gays, hate speech has a long and perplexing history in our country. It pits two deeply held American values, equality and free speech, against each other.
In a discussion of her book Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish and African American Struggles over Race and Representation, 1890-1930, author M. Alison Kibler examines how these three ethnic groups laid the groundwork for today’s debate over hate speech. They rose up against mockery and mistreatment in popular culture, lobbied behind the scenes, boycotted offensive acts, started theater riots, and pushed for censorship laws.
Kibler is an associate professor of American studies and women’s and gender studies at Franklin and Marshall College.