Richard W. Bailey

Prosecutable hate speech in 17th-century Massachusetts included calling people “dogs,” “rogues” and even “queens” (though the last referred to prostitution); magistrates took serious umbrage at being labeled “poopes” (“dolts”).

John McWhorter, the noted linguist, in his New York Times review this past weekend of Speaking American: A History of English in the United States.

(Additional fun facts about language and the law — specifically, facts about statutes criminalizing oral sex — after the jump.)

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