Effects of Hate Speech by Lorna Costelloe

Every action has a consequence. Be it you sleeping in those extra five minutes, and then missing the train, or you calling someone a fag and them going home feeling hurt. Hate Speech has many consequences, and understanding these effects leads to understanding why the No Hate Speech Movement is such an important movement.  
 
One of the largest consequences of Hate Speech is the effect that it can have on a victim’s mental health. Many of those who are victims of Hate Speech may self harm, or become suicidal, their confidence and self esteem may be affected, as well as many more consequences. What to one person is a simple word, to another is much worse. While many people believe that how someone interprets their words is not their problem, this is not true. It is your responsibility to ensure that your words aren’t hateful.  
 
This doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes - it just means that when you do, you accept it, apologize and do your best to not repeat that mistake. Take pronouns for example - there’s a difference between deliberately misgendering someone, and making a mistake. Misgendering someone unintentionally is not Hate Speech - there’s no intent behind it, and no intention to cause hurt. However intentionally misgendering someone is usually intended to cause hurt, there can be an element of hatred or intolerance behind it, and therefore it’s Hate Speech.  
 
Saying that someone should get over it, that not allowing you to use hurtful words is oppressive and in violation of your free speech… that’s commonly known as “passing the buck”. Refusing to take responsibility only causes more problems. Learn from your mistakes, accept that it is your responsibility not to hurt others. No one wants to be the person responsible for endangering someone’s mental health, or for lowering their confidence and self esteem.  
 
While you may believe that what you’ve said has been simply said to friends, this may not be the case. Making jokes about people’s sexuality, ethnicity, skin colour, religion and a variety of other aspects can lead to normalising negative aspects, which is another effect of Hate Speech. It also reinforces stereotypes and prejudices, which are very difficult to overcome. When stereotypes exist about groups of people, this creates tension between people, particularly groups of people. Tension can lead to an even more serious situation in the future.  
 
By taking responsibility and ensuring that the words you use aren’t hateful or intended to incite hatred, you can be part of the movement to stop Hate Speech. Your contribution is important, you are important, and you can stop Hate Speech. Instead of being the person who sends someone home upset, hurt and angry, or who pushes someone to the point where they feel the world hates them, you can be the person who ensures that they haven’t been forced to endure hateful words, actions or expressions.