Dangerous Talk: Think Your Rants Are Harmless. Think Again.

Picture of the skulls of genocide victiims

Bones of victims at a memorial to the Rwandan genocide. Image by DFID.

The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide has worked with fellow Rachel Brown to produce Defusing Hate: A Strategic Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech. Read on to learn how you make the world more dangerous and how to make it safer. Here are some highlights from the Guide:

“Dangerous speech” is speech that increases the risk for violence targeting certain people because of their membership in a group, such as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. It includes both speech that qualifies as incitement and speech that makes incitement possible by conditioning its audience to accept, condone, and commit violence against people who belong to a targeted group.

For example, Hutu extremists were able to incite genocide in Rwanda in part because years of propaganda had influenced Hutus to view Tutsis as less than human and so dangerous that they must be eliminated from the country.The propagandists’ goal may not have been genocide, but their work prepared Hutus to understand and answer the call to act when extremist leaders launched the genocide.

Dangerous speech can take a variety of forms, such as an actual speech, a pamphlet, an online post, a video, an image or message on a T-shirt, or even a song. Its message may call for violence against a target group or may portray the target group in a way that makes violence against it seem reasonable, justified, and necessary.

Dangerous speech often dehumanizes the group it targets (e.g., by calling its members rats, dogs, or lice), accuses the target group of planning to harm the audience, and presents the target group’s existence as a dire threat to the audience.

Speech may be dangerous even if it isn’t intended to cause violence: for example, a false rumor that a rival group is planning to attack could make violence against the group’s members seem like justified self-defense.

The message by itself cannot make speech dangerous; the other factors that give speech the power to provoke violence include:

        1. A speaker who is influential or popular with the audience

 2. A medium (the means used to communicate a message) that makes the audience more likely to access, believe, or spread the speech;

 3. A context that increases the risk that the speech will provoke violence toward a group;

 4. An audience that is receptive to speech that promotes violence, fear, or hatred toward a group

Emotional Fitness Thoughts

Think about the above and then think about how the above applies to political, religious, racial ranting. Think both Hillary and Trump Haters; think religous rants; think Celebs ranting; think Black Lives Matter; think Talk about the USA as evil; think the painting of Israel as demonic.

Also think about the trauma impact such talk creates. The growing number of police killings is one example. If you walk crime ridden streets as a policeman, you live in a state of fear that can and often does lead to trauma based and self-protective acts.

What to do? Remember what matters; challenge dangerous talk; when you speak out, speak out thoughtfully and respectfully; practice kindness.

Will it help? In some places, but the bitter fact is people change slowly, particularly when their core ideas about the world are being challenged.

Nevertheless read Rachel Brown’s story and how her efforts made a difference.

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.


Post Inspiration: This post was inspired by this Rachel Brown’s story. blog post. It also bears some relationship to this WordPress Daily Prompt:   Capable. We have to do what we are able to do to bring peace on earth.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.


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