PART 1 DEEPENS THE UNDERSTANDING OF EXTREME SPEECH by offering concrete examples of how it operates in different cultural and political contexts. It connects cases from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa to provide a practical illustration of the limits of the “hate speech” framework. These connections show how this framework is unable to capture the ways in which extreme practices can provide means to talk back to prevailing power or, conversely, how the sanctioning of expressions labeled as “hate speech” can allow power to perpetrate its hegemonic control over political discourse.
In the first chapter, David Boromisza-Habashi describes how the trading of accusations of “hate speech” among Hungarian politicians invites a competition of moralities that can ultimately erode their own moral force. It also illustrates the power of ethnography to reveal diverse debates surrounding hate speech and free speech as value-laden metadiscourses vying to inform speech governance.
In chapter 2, Jonathan Corpus Ong develops the example of extreme speech as power. Through a unique set of interviews with digital organizers and influencers in the Philippines, Ong offers a snapshot that both captures the ordinariness of extreme speech and locates it in the broader context of digital capitalism and exploitation. Exploring the digital labor behind disinformation, the chapter recognizes disinformation producers as digital workers, composing a “digital sweatshop” of paid troll work.
In chapter 3, David Katiambo explains how institutional power in Kenya has been labeling extreme speech as hate speech to cement its authority. The regime covertly naturalizes its discourse through social media platforms and users in a way that exercises political power without calling attention to it, whereas platforms like Facebook and Twitter—by virtue of being near monopolies—control the definition of hate speech. The chapter also extends reflections on coloniality and decoloniality in Africa to the digital sphere and provides a conceptual toolbox that can be used to critically interrogate the endurance of old practices of domination in new communicative spaces.
In the last chapter of part 1, Max Kramer focuses on India and explains how democracy can be diminished by labeling the expressions of resentment by those living under discrimination and structural violence as “hate speech.” Nietzsche’s concept of “ressentiment” is used to analyze the reactions of the weak who cannot fight in any way other than to moralize and take what is suppressing them as amoral, which can lead to a cycle of autovictimization and revenge. Kramer explains that speech can be transgressive and legitimate at the same time, as the claims that minority citizens are permitted to make against the nation-state are part of a problematic moral-normative framework.