Reports on violence against journalists in Brazil have captured media attention and the concern of international organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. Short of violence, other concerns about press freedom have surfaced, such as the successful assertion by public figures of their right to keep unauthorized biographies out of print. The case presented in this article involves another such concern: the use of criminal defamation laws to punish journalists for criticizing public officials. At the same time, Brazilian media sources regularly report on crimes of racism, which most often involve derogatory name-calling and hate speech. By examining the intersection of these apparently contradictory concerns, this article sheds new light on speech rights in Brazil and the United States and argues that a comparative perspective is crucial to contextualizing and harmonizing free speech and its limitations under modern democratic constitutions.

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Copyright © 2015 Vanderbilt University. This article first appeared in Vanderbilt E-Journal of Luso-Hispanic Studies 10 (2015), 2-12.

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