Language and Sexuality: Hate Speech

Table of Contents


Sexuality can be seen as a form of identity of an individual based on either biological makeup or due to one’s orientation. Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them and is of paramount importance in this essay because individuals have been verbally abused because of their sexuality. (Bollinger, 2002) This is a problem encountered mostly by homosexuals because society sees them as not being upright members of the society because its teachings and values accept only a man-woman relationship and not any other kind of relationship.

A language on the other is considered to be a system of communicating with other people using sounds, symbols, and words in expressing a meaning, idea, or thought. This language can be used in many forms, primarily through oral and written communications as well as using expressions through body language. Nonverbal communication represents the lion’s share in communication. A language is obviously a vital tool. Not only is it a means of communicating thoughts and ideas, but it forges friendships, cultural ties, and economic relationships. Language can also be used in a very negative manner which may lead to hate speech which obviously destroys friendship and cultural ties and this represents discriminatory language. (Bollinger, 2002)

Hate Speech

A hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair color), mental capacity and any other distinction-liability. The term covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviors in a public setting. (Bollinger, 2002) A debate on hate speech questions our freedom of speech and is always a very emotional and controversial debate. This is because we have people who feel that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion while others believe that we should be considerate when were are interacting with others.

As noted by Bollinger (2002) hate speech may be intentional or nonintentional. An intentional hate speech is used mostly by people who want to intimidate others and in the process express their superiority complex. This is a problem arising from the way we are raised because from our process of socialization we acquire those key values that guide our relationship with other people who we consider as an outsider. Its worth noting that we are all ethnocentric and this is why we use discriminatory language against other people because we only use what we have learned to judge others without considering the fact that even the other people who do not look like us are our fellow human beings and it’s the environment they grew up in that made them be different.

Intentional hate speech is used on daily basis by politicians as well as by students on campus. For example, “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” Golda Meir, March 8, 1969. This is a very good example of a political speech by a person who sides with Israel and believes that the Palestinians do not have a right to ownership of land as well as existence.

From this example, one can note that this kind of speech is from an oppressive regime that does not respect its neighbors and at the end of the day it calls for violence against the Palestinians. Apart from that people who experience such speech also may retaliate and the outcomes will be disastrous. Going back to my Israel example one can easily predict that because the Palestinians are aware of the fact that Israel does not recognize them then they can gang up to attack Israel in order to force Israel to sit down and negotiate with them. Up to date rockets are being fired by Palestinians to targets inside Israel because Israel has refused to give them their due.

This is just the tip of the icebergs. In 1994 Rwanda genocide was carried out because of the hate speech that existed in the country between the Hutu and Tutsi who are the majority in the country. The Hutu used to refer to Tutsi as ‘enyenzi’ which literally means a cockroach. Everyone knows that a cockroach is a harmful insect that deserves to be killed mercilessly.

Unintentional hate speech on the other hand occurs without the communicator knowing about it. In most cases, it may be an expression of someone’s inner feelings or hidden motives. In such a case we should not be fast to condemn but instead, we should analyze the circumstance first before making a conclusion.

Apart from inviting violence hate speech causes psychological problems to the recipient and this is in form of stress. Stress arises from the constant fear that the person experiencing intimidation lives with. This is because he/she cannot predict accurately what will happen at the end of the day. In an academic setting such as campus, such threats adversely affect students and may even cause academic failure. Students under constant fear or threat either in the form of insults or literature put on the notices board cannot concentrate academically. (Cowa, and Hodge, 1999) In the workplace, people experiencing hate speech cannot be productive and this affects the output of the company as well as the economy in general. This also applies to migrants who settle in foreign territories.


In conclusion, it is evident that hate speech is meant to separate people into an insider and an outsider. It may originate from political circles as well as from the individual level. All forms of hate speech are not good because they may result in violence, occupation of people’s land as well as killings. Although everyone has freedom of speech we should exercise our rights in a nondiscriminatory manner. This is to say that we are all human beings and we should respect each other and we have a natural calling of appreciating those people who are different from us.

In order to deal with this problem, the government should come up with laws that protect the minority and the majority as well. In addition, we should appreciate the fact that we are raised and grew up in a different environment and therefore we cannot be the same.


Bollinger, L.C. (2002): The Tolerant Society. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Cowa., G. and Hodge, c. (1996). Judgments of Hate Speech: The Effects of Target Group, Publicness, and Behavioral Responses of the Target. Journal of Applied Social Psychology Volume 26 Issue 4, Pages 355 – 374.

Golda Meir, 1969. Web.