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The Communication of Hate

Series:

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 8: Conclusion 163

Extract

Chapter 8 Conclusion We reflect on some of the implications of our research in this conclusion. It has been noted that hatred is stabilized in the discourse that is used to express it and pass it from one generation to the next (Tsesis, 2002). That is, hatred comes alive in our language. Many who study racism and hatred through dis- course reject the cognitivist orientation to racism that may be found in re- search from the social cognition field. Mindful of this sentiment, we still believe there is much to be gleaned from social cognition research that in- forms this work. Specifically, we find social cognition research to be useful for demonstrating that hatred is not an unusual state of mind, existing only in the minds of professional hate-mongers. If hatred lives in language, the seeds of hatred exist in human cognition. Human cognitive processes shape the way we understand and respond to others. The key to understanding how cognitive processes can lead to hate speech may be traced to the way we store information about others. The hu- man mind requires a storage system that allows for efficient access to infor- mation that is stored in memory. This process is similar to the way that a computer directory works. We store information in categories that capture common characteristics and unique features about people or objects. For ex- ample, features such as gender, attire, and education level may be associated with the category of nurse. Moreover, the categorization process in...

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