I use it to describe my relationship with technology, when I’m impatient with the speed of my laptop. Or to express my feelings about an unsweetened cup of coffee someone has dared to give me.
As a 4-letter word, it’s useful. It’s also lazy.
We talk about hate crimes; acts of violence and savagery that leave us shaking our heads and questioning the state of the world we live in.
Hate. In every day conversation, I compare slow broadband speed to people being gunned-down in a nightclub because of who they love. It’s an imperfect word. I use it in connection with my distaste or mild inconvenience. That feels wrong somehow. But the problem with language sometimes is it can feel hollow and inadequate. Especially when we are expressing something that it is almost impossible to comprehend.
For every atrocity, we have a list of words we reach for to talk about them. Words like;
It feels like, in our current world, we call on this vocabulary with depressing regularity.
This year in the U.K. since the result of the EU referendum, there has been a sharp increase in reported hate crime. Not hugely surprising given the language of intolerance and bigotry that was the backbone of the ‘Leave’ campaign. In effect hate speech has gone mainstream.
I have no idea what happens next. We have reached a point where, if what the mass media reports is to be believed, talking about tolerance and embracing diversity is once again a minority point of view.
The public conversation has moved quickly to one that has ceased to discuss people of different cultures, religion and sexuality with respect. It has been replaced with language that is cruel and ugly.
But though it sometimes feels futile, those of us who believe in some as important as the basic human right to dignity for all people, have to keep talking. Hell, we have to keep shouting. Words do matter.
Because when we feel our voices are silenced and we are too afraid to speak is when the world we are part of will be in far more trouble than it already is.
This article is in response to the current open call for #FuckHate. Submissions close on 31st October – after which a zine / digital publication (with profits going to the NoH8 campaign) will be produced. More here.