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Copyright (c) 1989 Michigan Law Review
Michigan Law Review

LEGAL STORYTELLING: PUBLIC RESPONSE TO RACIST SPEECH: CONSIDERING THE VICTIM'S STORY [+]



[+] copyright 1989 Mari J. Matsuda. All rights reserved.

August, 1989

Michigan Law Review

87 Mich. L. Rev. 2320

Author

Mari J. Matsuda *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

A black family enters a coffee shop in a small Texas town. A white man places a card on their table. The card reads, "You have just been paid a visit by the Ku Klux Klan." The family stands and leaves. 1

A law student goes to her dorm and finds an anonymous message posted on the door, a caricature image of her race, with a red line slashed through it. 2

A Japanese-American professor arrives in an Australian city and finds a proliferation of posters stating "Asians Out or Racial War" displayed on telephone poles. She uses her best, educated inflection in speaking with clerks and cab drivers, and decides not to complain when she is overcharged. 3

These unheralded stories share company with the more notorious provocation of swastikas at Skokie and burning crosses on suburban lawns. 4 The threat of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi skinheads goes beyond their repeated acts of illegal violence. 5 Their presence and the active dissemination of racist propaganda means that citizens are denied personal security and liberty as they go about their daily lives. Professor Richard Delgado recognized the harm of racist speech in his breakthrough article, Words That Wound, 6 in which he suggested a tort remedy for injury from racist words. This Article takes inspiration from Professor Delgado's position, and makes the further suggestion that formal criminal and administrative sanction -- public as opposed to private prosecution -- is also ...
 
 
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