Hate speech is, outside the law, communication that vilifies a person or a group based on discrimination against that person or group.
In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics.
In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both. A website that uses hate speech is called a hate site. Most of these sites contain Internet forums and news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint. There has been debate over how freedom of speech applies to the Internet.
Critics have argued that the term "hate speech" is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in a rush to appear politically correct.