They point out, in the first place, that hate speech causes real harm. Free speech advocates will sometimes insist that words don’t cause damage. They disregard — or even mock — the concerns of students on college campus who protest speeches by controversial figures like Milo Yiannopolous, who has used his speaking engagements to harass trans students, among other marginalized groups. They argue that victims should toughen up and ignore hateful words, or accept them as the price of freedom.
Delgado and Stefanic, though, argue the price for freedom in this case may be higher than we think. For example, a John Hopkins study published in 2013 concluded that being exposed to racism can lead to high blood pressure and stress among African Americans. Similarly, according to research by Claude Steele at Cornell, negative stereotypes affect African-American self-perception, and can lead to lower test scores. More, the rash of recent stories about sexual harassment in the workplace provide stark examples of how hostile words or technically non-violent actions — like men exposing themselves —can create an intolerable environment, forcing women out of industries and leading to long-term stress and trauma.