Hate speech characteristics
According to the recommendation adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 1997, hate speech constitutes all forms of expression which incites, disseminates, encourages or justifies racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance, including nationalism, ethnocentrism, discrimination or hostility towards minorities or migrants.
It is important to be aware of the methods used by radical groups to create an atmosphere of intolerance in the society and incite hatred against various groups.
Identification of hate speech
Hate speech can be identified by means of the following characteristics:
- Othering (them vs us) – estrangement from a target group or groups and creation of a dichotomy “them against us” are typical for hate ideology. Supremacy over target groups is emphasized, their identity is portrayed as a threat and the audience is mobilised to combat that threat.
- Object instead of a subject – media platforms whose editorial policy towards groups of different identities is openly intolerant usually ignore the opinions of representatives of the groups they are covering. Correspondingly, representatives of these groups are objects of journalists’ judgement rather than subjects, and are completely ignored in the editorial material as a party.
- scaring tactic – with the aim of radicalising the public, far-right groups and media platforms create an alarmist environment around the threats and spread fears among the public. To this end, they disseminate fake information or groundlessly generalise the actions of an individual member of a group as actions characteristic of the group as a whole. The intimidation tactic is often used with regard to migrants.
- Stirring up historical trauma – psychologists and sociologists define historical trauma as “multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural group”. Typical for stirring up a historical trauma is the transfer of the events and problems of the past into the contemporary context and incitement of hatred against groups of specific ethnicity or nationality or against a state, based on emotions. The use of hate speech and shifting the attention from real problems to the past as well as mobilisation of the public against specific groups often take place in such cases.
- Victimisation – in parallel with glorifying the past, self-victimisation and setting the goal of restoring past glory which is deemed possible only by defeating and destroying “the others”.
- Explaining genetic superiority by divine providence – racist groups use outdated and distorted anthropological or genetic theories to argue that their genetic superiority is conditioned by divine or natural causes, while other groups are less human. In this case, too, the goal of destroying the enemy and assuming an appropriate place is being set.
- Pseudo-science and anecdotal evidence – numerous internet platforms are being created, including websites and social network pages, which use obsolete scientific theories or anecdotal evidence to mobilise the public against target groups.
- Creation of group solidarity - By appealing to common identity and by manipulating emotions, group members are mobilised against a “common enemy” and radicalised.