Terrorist-Extremist Speech and Hate Speech: Understanding the Similarities and Differences

  • Katharine GelberEmail author


The terms ‘hate’ and ‘hatred’ are increasingly used to describe the rationale of a kind of anti-Western terrorist-extremist speech. This discursively links this kind of terrorist-extremist speech with the well-known concept of ‘hate speech’, a link that suggests the two phenomena are more alike than they are unlike. In this article I interrogate the similarities and differences between anti-Western terrorist-extremist speech and hate speech as they manifest in Western liberal democratic states along two axes: to whom the speech is addressed, and how harm is occasioned. Relying on a combination of philosophical conceptions and public policy empirics, I demonstrate that there are significant differences between the two types of speech, especially in their mechanisms of harm. The implications of this analysis are that these differences should be better understood in order to respond appropriately to these two distinct types of harmful speech.


Terrorism Extremism Hate speech Speech regulation Countering violent extremism 



The author wishes to thank Mary Kate McGowan, Karen Hussey, Alex Brown, Matteo Bonotti, Paul Billingham and the two anonymous referees for very helpful discussions and suggestions on the ideas in this paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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