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Related: abuse - hate
Harassment is a term defined by law to refer to many types of behaviour that are found threatening or disturbing, and beyond those that are sanctioned by society. In societies which support free speech, only the more repetitive, persistent and untruthful types of speech usually qualify as harassment, but so does sexual harassment which involves persistent and unwanted sexual advances, typically in the workplace or other setting where the consequences of refusing are potentially very disadvantaging to the victim.
Because the term is defined by law, and law varies by jurisdiction, it is difficult to provide any exact definition that is accepted everywhere. In some cultures, for instance, simply stating a political opinion can be seen as unwarranted and a deliberate attempt to intimidate - in a totalitarian society any such statement could be interpreted as an attempt to involve someone in rebel activity or implicate them in same, with the implication that if they refuse, they are putting their own life in danger. More usually, some label such as "anti-social" or related to treason is used to label such behaviour - it being treated as an offense against the state not the person. This resembles the use of psychiatry to imprison dissidents which is common in many countries. Another example is that under some versions of Islamic Law merely insulting Islam is considered to be a harassment of all believers, and in Japan insulting any faith is usually considered taboo, and has legal sanctions. There are also extreme and self-serving definitions employed by anti-defamation groups, and also more mainstream groups like NOW. Because of these variations, there is no way even within one society to provide a truly neutral definition of harassment.
However, broad categories of harassment often recognized in law include:
- sexual harassment (with a much stricter definition in the workplace)
- psychological harassment - repetitive unprovoked intrusions or interruptions
- group psychological harassment? is this real? or is it propaganda?
- hate speech - comments provably false or irrelevant which have the effect of stirring up hate towards a particular group - another legal category.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment [Aug 2004]
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