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12 June 2019

Louise Richardson-Self: Offensiphobia is a Red Herring

In a recent article in The Journal of Ethics, J. Angelo Corlett (2018) offers a critique of what he calls ‘offensiphobia’: the belief that people have a right not to be offended.We argue that offensiphobia doesn't really exist in higher educational institutions (which Corlett takes this to be the main context for his paper).We therefore attempt to amend his points in such a way that they purport to offer some criticisms of existing university policies and practices. However, as we demonstrate, even with these amendments Corlett’s critique will fail, since his argument that hate speech should not be censured is a bad argument. Finally, we wish to demonstrate that the term 'offensiphobia' is not only misleading, but ideological.It conflates hate speech with offense, and in so doing implies that hate speech cannot seriously harm its targets (beyond those forms of speech already unprotected by the First Amendment).This failure of recognition may even constitute a form of willful ignorance. Full details
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