The following investigations juxtapose jurisprudence and communication literatures to examine under what conditions racist speech is perceived as harmful. Specifically, one theory of legal liability, the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and one intergroup approach, social identity theory, guided three empirical studies investigating verbally disturbing communication targeted at Asian Americans. The studies examined how the attribution of harm was influenced by variables such as group membership, message severity, message explicitness and the medium ofpresentation. One finding in particular, an interaction between group membership and message explicitness (direct vs. indirect), emerged across the three studies. Results revealed that as “objective” evaluators of deprecating speech, out-group members attributed the direct messages of racism to be more harmful than in-group members did, but, conversely, in-group members evaluated the indirect messages of racism to be more harmful than the out-group members did. Theoretical explanations for this finding and its resulting legal implications are discussed.