Rising Above Insults and Bullying
Chapter 6 looks at the implications of Confident Pluralism for our speech, including our use of name-calling and labeling. The First Amendment's free speech right allows us to say almost anything to almost anyone. But that freedom places a great deal of responsibility on us for what we choose to say. On most of the deeply contested issues at the core of our divisiveness, our efforts toward Confident Pluralism are hindered by the Hurtful Insult and the Conversation Stopper. These kinds of speech that breed social intolerance by stigmatizing people instead of challenging ideas are at odds with the aspirations of Confident Pluralism. We can choose to avoid this stigmatizing speech and instead pursue what law professor James Boyd White calls “living speech.” Let's call this the Speech Imperative.
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