Monday, November 10, 2014

English – The New Language of Hate

The blooming of the information age and the commercial Internet in the U.S. has made English the default language of the medium. In addition to all of the other businesses that have emerged, website hosting companies and services in the U.S. are the primary home for websites from around the world. Because of the US commitment to free speech, hate filled websites from around the world, websites seeking to evade hate speech laws in their own country, often seek out and find willing hosting services in the U.S.

Between hate speech generated by home-grown sources and hate sites from around the world English is now the international language of hate.

Not all hate is in English, far from it. But many haters love and use English. It is the mother tongue of the new media. It is also the native language of free-speech and the U.S., where their most vicious rhetoric has a place to be heard. In conferences, at hearings, meetings and court proceeding around the world, when the issue of hate online comes up, the U.S. is cited as the welcoming home for hate. Criticism of the United States and the First amendment often follows.

International hate mongers will post their vitriol in their own language when speaking to their home audience. When racists, extremists, anti-Semites and fear-mongers want to reach an international audience, their content appears in English.

 This is not a bad thing. It is fitting and possibly even good that English has come to be associated with hate in this way. In addition to being the language of hate, English is also the language of free speech, freedom and equality. The U.S. cultural ethos of free-speech is not about to change, so English is going to remain the language of hate. On one hand, hate speech will not be going away – on the other hand its persistence means that freedom of speech is alive and well. English, in addition to being a platform for hate, is uniquely positioned to be the most powerful tool against hate speech. Just as the concept of free speech protects people’s right to spew hate, it also protects the right of people to identify and criticize hate speech. Speaking out against hate speech does not compromise free speech; it is perhaps the highest form of free speech. It is counter speech. It is the start of debate, dispute and dialogue that is us at our best, hate and all.

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