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18 Law & Phil. 1 (1999)

handle is hein.journals/lwphil18 and id is 1 raw text is: THOMAS W. PEARD

In Rights in Collision: A Non-Punitive, Compensatory Remedy for
Abusive Speech,1 Diana Tietjens Meyers outlines an admittedly
unorthodox proposal for compensating victims of abusive speech
on college and university campuses. In this paper, I object to her
proposal and to its underlying rationale.
In Section I, I describe the remedy Meyers proposes and its
grounds. In Section II, I raise the following objections to Meyers's
remedy: (i) it unfairly and unjustifiably imposes sole liability on
the university for harm caused by hate speech; (ii) it is open to
constitutional objections, contrary to one of its principal motivating
grounds; (iii) it unnecessarily duplicates existing causes of action
and is otherwise infeasible.
In Section III, I consider the grounds for Meyers's proposal. I
argue that Meyers does not establish the existence of a conflict of
rights which her proposed remedy is intended to resolve. I also
criticize her characterization of the victim's right as non-universal.
I further claim that Meyers's objections to the so-called classic
conception of basic rights are not telling. I conclude that Meyers's
compensatory remedy for abusive speech is untenable and that her
rationale lacks cogency.
Meyers holds that universities face a dilemma arising from two
seemingly incompatible moral claims. On the one hand, free speech
must be robust on university and college campuses. Therefore, even
1 Diana Tietjens Meyers, Rights in Collision: A Non-Punitive, Compensatory
Remedy for Abusive Speech, Law and Philosophy 14 (1995): pp. 203-243.
LA Law and Philosophy 18: 1-12, 1999.
© 1999 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

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