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The Communication of Hate


Michael Waltman and John Haas

The book was awarded the 2011 NCA Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression.
This book sets out to explore how hate comes alive in language and actions by examining the nature and persuasive functions of hate in American society. Hate speech may be used for many purposes and have different intended consequences. It may be directed to intimidate an out-group, or to influence the behavior of in-group members. But how does this language function? What does it accomplish? The answers to these questions are addressed by an examination of the communicative messages produced by those with hateful minds. Beginning with an examination of the organized hate movement, the book provides a critique of racist discourse used to recruit and socialize new members, construct enemies, promote valued identities, and encourage ethnoviolence. The book also examines the strategic manipulation of hatred in our everyday lives by politicians, political operatives, and media personalities. Providing a comprehensive overview of hate speech, the book ends by describing the desirable features of an anti-hate discourse that promotes respect for social differences.


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Chapter 1: Language in Action: Overview of Discursive Constructs Useful for Understanding Hate Speech 1


Chapter 1 Language in Action: Overview of Discursive Constructs Useful for Understanding Hate Speech Hatred and related constructs, such as tolerance, are controversial and am- biguous for a variety of reasons. First, the many academics working in this area represent several disciplines and often work at the nexus of those disci- plines, providing a rich and diverse set of ideas for understanding hate and hate-related issues. This is useful for academic writers but it could hinder the development of a commonly understood core set of constructs and practices that might characterize the work of a single academic discipline. Second, there is frequently a disconnect between what academics mean by constructs such as “hate” and “tolerance” and how those terms are under- stood and discussed in our everyday lives. As we have described earlier (Waltman & Haas, 2007), for example, people may claim to hate the boss that bullies them with their power, the former friend who betrayed the secrets of their friendship to a third party, or the colleague who frustrates the ac- complishment of their professional goals. A child may claim to hate a class- mate who “tattled” on him to a teacher. A politician from one political party may claim that the rhetoric of politicians from another political party consti- tutes hate speech against the former. How does one reconcile such everyday understandings and uses of the term “hate” with the more extraordinary hate-motivated actions of the White Supremacist that unleashed automatic weapon fire on a Jewish Day Care...

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