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Unpublished Paper
Judging Stories
ExpressO (2012)
  • Noah Benjamin Novogrodsky, University of Wyoming College of Law
Judging Stories Abstract This Article uses the confluence of incitement to genocide and hate speech in a single case to explore the power of stories in law. That power defines how we see the world, how we form communities of meaning and how we speak to one another. Previous commentators have recognized that law is infused with stories, from the narratives of litigants, to the rhetoric of lawyers, to the tales that judges interpret and create in the form of written opinions. This Article builds on those insights to address the problems posed by transnational speech and the question of which norms apply to inflammatory publications transmitted across borders. This piece introduces the term “master story” to make three related claims. First, states produce and rely upon constitutive legal narratives that define political culture and shape the contours of permitted and forbidden speech. Second, judges play a unique role in constructing master stories. Increasingly, however, geographically and temporally removed tribunals are called upon to adjudicate hateful expression from outside the master story, a process that invites a reappraisal of the balance between free speech and the threat of dignitary harms. Third, courts and tribunals are beginning to use incitement to genocide – but not hate speech – to write a new master story. Channeling international human rights law and norms, judges are supplanting exhortations of hatred with the language of reason in an effort to develop a body of transnational legal rules, a new nomos for an interconnected world. -Prof. Noah Benjamin Novogrodsky
  • First Amendment,
  • Incitement to genocide,
  • hate speech
Publication Date
Citation Information
Noah Benjamin Novogrodsky. "Judging Stories" ExpressO (2012)
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