For years, social scientists have been saying that “thoughts often become things”. However, people often fail to take action when they observe certain people acting in disturbing ways, or making general threats about killing people. The audience may think the person is merely venting his frustrations. He “is not serious”, “things will blow over the next day”. It is possible that some of the listeners share the same frustrations. They may even echo the mantras of the angry speaker– “Fucking [name a religious faction] hate us and shouldn’t be in this country”—“The [name a minority] are lazy motherfuckers and criminals”, etc. There becomes a kind of warped alliance or camaraderie between the speaker and the audience during these heated moments. However, most people who are listening to the rants, although they may “kind of believe” in certain aspects of what is being said, are sane enough to discount them after short periods of time. But even temporary acquiescence can be damaging because sometimes the speaker will take action—perhaps, motivated by his audience’s failure to promptly condemn or eschew the speaker’s rhetoric. It seems critical to ensure that mental health assistance is available, as early as possible, to those (especially the young people) who espouse this kind of hate speech. It is simply too dangerous to assume that the speaker will not take action at some point. Indeed, as the ease of messaging becomes increasingly easier and faster with the internet, and the audiences larger, the need for mental health assistance dramatically increases. It is easier to hate from afar. But one can hardly dispute the fact that much of the hate speech today stems from ignorance and mental health deficiencies. This is where our focus must be.

Leave a Reply