Political vandalism as counter-speech: A defense of defacing and destroying tainted monuments

Ten Herng Lai*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Tainted political symbols ought to be confronted, removed, or at least recontextualized. Despite the best efforts to achieve this, however, official actions on tainted symbols often fail to take place. In such cases, I argue that political vandalism—the unauthorized defacement, destruction, or removal of political symbols—may be morally permissible or even obligatory. This is when, and insofar as, political vandalism serves as fitting counter-speech that undermines the authority of tainted symbols in ways that match their publicity, refuses to let them speak in our name, and challenges the derogatory messages expressed through a mechanism I call derogatory pedestalling: the glorification or honoring of certain individuals or ideologies that can only make sense when members of a targeted group are taken to be inferior.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)602-616
    Number of pages15
    JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
    Volume28
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

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