People don’t commit violence against other groups - or even condone it - spontaneously. First they must be taught to see other people as pests, vermin, aliens, or threats. Malicious leaders often use the same types of rhetoric to do this, in myriad cultures, languages, countries, and historical periods. We call this Dangerous Speech. Violence might be prevented by making it less abundant or less convincing. We work to find the best ways to do this – while protecting freedom of expression.
A report shows that 78% of Americans believe aggressive language can make violence more likely. The Guardian asked Susan Benesch how we can respond to Dangerous Speech.
Should you respond directly to hatred online? And if so, how should you do it? These are just a few of the questions that staff at the Dangerous Speech Project (DSP) discussed with an audience at RightsCon last week. DSP staff were joined by Logan Smith, creator of @YesYoureRacist.