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When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality

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Overview

How should a liberal democracy respond to hate groups and others that oppose the ideal of free and equal citizenship? The democratic state faces the hard choice of either protecting the rights of hate groups and allowing their views to spread, or banning their views and violating citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, association, and religion. Avoiding the familiar yet problematic responses to these issues, political theorist Corey Brettschneider proposes a new approach called value democracy. The theory of value democracy argues that the state should protect the right to express illiberal beliefs, but the state should also engage in democratic persuasion when it speaks through its various expressive capacities: publicly criticizing, and giving reasons to reject, hate-based or other discriminatory viewpoints.

Distinguishing between two kinds of state action—expressive and coercive—Brettschneider contends that public criticism of viewpoints advocating discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation should be pursued through the state's expressive capacities as speaker, educator, and spender. When the state uses its expressive capacities to promote the values of free and equal citizenship, it engages in democratic persuasion. By using democratic persuasion, the state can both respect rights and counter hateful or discriminatory viewpoints. Brettschneider extends this analysis from freedom of expression to the freedoms of religion and association, and he shows that value democracy can uphold the protection of these freedoms while promoting equality for all citizens.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[T]his book's argument is very strong, and its attention to anticipating and rebutting objections is both exceptional and laudable. When the State Speaks is likely to become the standard political-liberal treatise on the ways in which a democratic state should treat inegalitarian viewpoints—no small achievement given the persistence and quality of debates in this area."—Andrew Sabl, Perspectives on Politics

"This stimulating and carefully argued book makes a substantial contribution to the debate over how liberal states should respond to illiberal groups within their borders. The topic is timely and important, and even readers who disagree with Corey Brettschneider's positions will find that his arguments repay close attention."—David McCabe, Political Science Quarterly

"This is a really good book. Brettschneider's When the State Speaks is both provocative and persuasive, resolving a stubborn conflict within democratic theory in a way many will initially reject, but which he argues for so effectively that, by the end, the controversial appears the commonsensical. . . . [T]his is a useful book, clearly written and well-argued. It is a great addition to political theory."—Sarah Conly, Res Publica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691147628
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/22/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Corey Brettschneider is associate professor of political science and associate professor, by courtesy, of philosophy at Brown University. He is the author of "Democratic Rights: The Substance of Self-Government" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction
Averting Two Dystopias
An Introduction to Value Democracy 1

Chapter One
The Principle of Public Relevance and Democratic Persuasion
Value Democracy's Two Guiding Ideas 24

Chapter Two
Publicly Justifiable Privacy and Reflective Revision by Citizens 51

Chapter Three
When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?
Democratic Persuasion and the Freedom of Expression 71

Chapter Four
Democratic Persuasion and State Subsidy 109

Chapter Five
Religious Freedom and the Reasons for Rights 142

Conclusion
Value Democracy at Home and Abroad 168

Notes 175
Bibliography 199
Index 207

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