I want to know whether being Violent with speech too can be considered as violence - partially or fully?

  • Well, in most jurisdictions "sufficient verbal provocation" is recognized as a defense for battery, e.g., books.google.com/books?id=g9K5DQAAQBAJ&pg=PA288 Of course, your response to verbal provocation is your choice, since there's no physical threat. And if you do choose fists, then the verbal provoker has an absolute right to defend himself.
    – user19423
    Oct 1, 2017 at 9:58
  • Please define how one is violent with speech. Oct 23, 2017 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


John Stuart Mill in On liberty will say that what makes a violent speech violent (construed as 'legally violent', that is, a legally impermissible act to do onto others) depends on the context. What makes a violent speech legally violent is a matter relating how or when to legitimately exercise freedom of speech. Mill's answer to this question is the Harm Principle, which states, "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Stated equivalently, individuals have the freedom to do everything which injures no one else.

To explain how the Harm Principle works, Mill applied it to the case of the Corn Laws which excited the minds of the 19th century British people. The laws imposed restrictions and tariffs on imported grain, which entailed the enrichment of the landowner class and the starvation of the British laborer class. Mill maintained that if you made a violent speech like, "Corn Laws are evil. They kill people!" in a Parliament session, your speech is an exercise of the freedom of speech. However, if you uttered the same speech in front of a landowner's house with an angry mob, your speech is counted as the legal violence since it could endanger the safety of the landowner's family.

Many legal scholars employ the harm principle to understand the limits of individual freedom and the limits of legitimate forceful interference of the government in the actions of individuals.

  • What if Violent speech, though doesn't cause physical pain to other but mental, emotional or psychological pain.
    – Mr. Sigma.
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:12

Speech by definition is not violence; nevertheless, non-violent speech can cause great harm.

Defamation, disparagement, verbal abuse are classic examples. A skilled abuser can unhinge the intended target by uttering just a few seemingly harmless words. Cousin Bette casually spoke a few words, as a consequence Adeline developed a nervous convulsion and quivered for the rest of her life.

Nevertheless, experience has shown that the harms caused by censorship is far more greater than those caused malignant speech. The Great Chinese Famine, which starved millions to death and stunted the growth of hundreds of millions more, was the direct result of silencing opposing views.

Snakes do not cause great harm to humans as they used to do, not because snakes have ascended to higher moral plane; it was human knowledge of snakes that mitigated this evil. Some humans are venomous snakes; most humans are snakes at various moments. Thanks to moralists, most of what we know about humans are what they should be, not what they really are, as a consequence of which malignant speech can still wreak havoc. If school children were taught the truth about human nature the same way animals and plants were introduced, it is possible that humans can tolerate absolute freedom of speech without letting the malignant part cause too much harm.

As this moment, I think using speech to counter speech is fair game.

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