Power in Public: Reactions, Responses, and Resistance to Offensive Public Speech

Laura Beth Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Many maintain that the proper remedy for harmful speech is 'more speech'. This chapter argues that this prescription relies on faulty empirical assumptions. As the empirical evidence shows, targets of problematic race- and gender-related public speech do not in fact 'talk back', for many reasons. The legal treatment of such speech contrasts with that of begging. Because there are already a variety of formal mechanisms in place that discourage begging, it is easier for targets to respond to begging. In this way, the law protects the powerful from harassment in public places, while placing on its less privileged members a burdensome choice between responding or accepting their own subordination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpeech and Harm
Subtitle of host publicationControversies Over Free Speech
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191741357
ISBN (Print)9780199236282
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012


  • Begging
  • First amendment
  • Free speech
  • Harassment
  • Harm
  • Public
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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