Freedom of expression on disturbing matters of society, history, and governance is becoming ever more contested in Canada. The idea that official meanings and histories can legally substitute for publicly constructed ones – for fear of what an uncensored public might themselves construct – is gaining widespread acceptance. Public invocation of hate propaganda law, its language, and its moral authority in otherwise ordinary discursive contexts, has been crucial to, and symbolic of, this trend.
Democracy Off Balance offers an unsettling analysis of hate censorship and hate censors as a complex paradox of modern democratic discourse. Stefan Braun argues against the supposed public interest served by the hate speech laws and dissects the paradoxical forces – the politically self-contradictory thinking and the socially self-defeating assumptions – that drive hate censorship in Canada today.
Braun draws on censors' own terms of social and political reference to show how they undermine their own causes with hate censorship and uncovers how hate speech law subtly impacts far beyond its strict legal confines to condition and corrode public discourse. He brings together the debate and the debaters in a multidimensional approach that challenges traditional ways of seeing the legal boundaries of freedom of expression. Democracy Off Balance is a timely and absorbing exploration of a highly controversial topic.