How Nasty May Government Speech Be?

In this paper I offer a blueprint for lawful government speech by asking not what messages a 'good' government should use its expressive powers to communicate but what a 'bad' government cannot get away with saying. I argue that the limitations imposed by free speech doctrine are inadequate and, more importantly, do not go to the heart of our moral concern with government speech. I suggest instead that we can get a better grasp of that moral concern by focusing on the concept of political legitimacy. I then propose an elaboration of political legitimacy that highlights the connection between government speech and equal standing, on the one hand, and democratic stability, on the other. From this dual connection I derive a number of (non-exhaustive) criteria for what I call 'tolerably nasty' government speech.