Islamophobia, 'Gross Offensiveness' and the Internet

Uta Kohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)
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This article argues that restrictions on expression based on ‘gross offensiveness’ or similar public morality notions embedded in speech offences are not and cannot be politically neutral and be evenly applied to political speech, no matter who is the author. Such concepts draw on a majoritarian perspective purporting to be reflective of unified base values of the ‘national community’. The article explores why such concepts of unacceptable speech are a poor fit for a deeply heterogeneous community, and all the more so on the internet, where those who engage in public discourse are even more numerous and more diverse in ethnic, cultural, political and social terms. Set against such a diverse speech landscape the prohibition of ‘gross offensiveness’, or what are considered the outer boundaries of acceptability, is repressive of minorities and of challenges to conventional opinions and existing power dynamics, and is liable to reinforce the very bigotry it seeks to relieve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-131
JournalInformation and Communications Technology Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2017


  • islamophobia
  • freedom of expression
  • multicultural diversity
  • gross offensiveness
  • freedom of speech
  • internet censorship
  • cosmopolitan
  • reasonable person
  • community values


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