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Speech act theory, maledictive force and vilification in Australia


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Asquith, NL 2007 , 'Speech act theory, maledictive force and vilification in Australia' , New Talents 21C: other contact zones, vol. 7 , pp. 179-187 .

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Traditional Millian theory posits that free speech is the most important mechanism to achieve a greater tolerance of difference and thus create a dynamic marketplace
for truth to flourish. In responding to maledictive hate, theorists such as Gelber and Butler recommend that marginalised speech actors engage with a process of
speaking back; of returnng the gaze in order to make perpetrators' contributions to the marketplace of ideas marginal and aberrant. However, as will be demonstrated by an analysis of maledictive force and effects, the ideal speech situations of communicative action theory and the recasting of terms of ahuse by 'speaking back' require either rational speech actors - something clearly absent in
many acts of maledictive hate - or a validation of the autheticity and probity of performative speech acts of marginalised subjects. Constructing new truths is both
socially and politically contingent. As such, the capacity for marginalised subjects to contribute rests upon their ability to be able to speak with authority and to be
authorised to speak. Yet this validation as authorised speech actors can be withheld from marginalised groups such that, even when individuals feel empowered to speak back to their victimisers, their locutions may be forestalled, gagged, frustrated and disabled by the historicity of their abjectification. Furthermore, speaking back is presented by those who oppose the regulation of speech as inherently non-institutional. This failure to read institutional responses as a process of speaking back- which re-contextualise social relationships, as they exist at the time of enactment-fundamentally devalues the contributions that the
state can make to managing maledictive hate.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Asquith, NL
Journal or Publication Title: New Talents 21C: other contact zones
Publisher: Network Books
ISSN: 1834-9080
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