Academic journal article Journal of Sociology

In Terrorem: 'With Their Tanks and Their Bombs, and Their Bombs and Their Guns, in Your Head' (1)

Academic journal article Journal of Sociology

In Terrorem: 'With Their Tanks and Their Bombs, and Their Bombs and Their Guns, in Your Head' (1)

Article excerpt

Sander Gilman (1991: 241) suggests that 'the need to locate where danger lies ... is shared by all human beings'. While fear of death or elimination at the hands of violent perpetrators may be a significant factor in the policy making of many modern societies--especially if the call to arms by Western leaders countering terrorism of the East is to be taken seriously--in everyday life, terrorism directly affects very few Australians. It is something that happens elsewhere: at the World Trade Centre, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Bali. However, for some groups in Australia in terrorem is a way of life. Gilman argues that this is because they are 'always lives lived against the sense that one is marked, that one is too visible' (1991: 241). In particular, for gay men, lesbians and Jews, the terror embodied in hate violence impacts on everyday moments of living. In the small acts of lunchroom discussions of weekend events, the holding of hands in the street or even the participation in a religious community, reside the ingredients for the separation of individuals from their wider communities that, in turn, creates barriers to their equal participation in Australian society. At the core of the limitations imposed on certain groups in Australia is the use of language to police the behaviours of these groups, and to create a social environment where hiding one's identity is the most effective way to prevent violence and abuse. In this article, I provide a framework with which to better understand the ways that hate violence, including maledictive hate, creates terror in particular targeted communities, and how some government policies can be altered to be more pro-active in the regulation of malediction that vilifies these groups. Changes to government policies are required not only to ensure marginalized groups' greater access to justice and equal participation in Australian society, but also because 'with their bombs and their guns, in your head' it is difficult to imagine a life led without terror and fear defining everyday relationships.

In the construction of maledictive hate as 'hate speech', most theoretical analyses gloss over the fact that these practices include spoken and written forms of hatred. This construction ignores or fundamentally devalues the significant differences of scope and effect between speech acts and textual acts. The key difference between these forms of maledictive hate is the transience of the majority of speech acts (particularly those that are part of single incidents rather than ongoing acts of hatred) and the permanency of written texts (such as graffiti, hate [e]mail, press reports, posters, leaflets, stickers and books). Further, 'hate speech' has become synonymous with the practice of naming marginalized individuals (such as poofter, dyke or Jew), yet this primary form of hate violence is only one of a range of acts that define and separate gay men, lesbians and Jews from their wider communities. To remedy the shortcomings of the term 'hate speech', I have resurrected the term 'malediction' for its verbal and textual properties and for its stronger meaning: the utterance of a curse, the condition of being reviled, and an evil intention or deed. Malediction has been used throughout this article to discuss all forms of verbal and textual hatred, however the term 'vilification' has also been used to discuss a particular sub-set of heterosexist and antisemitic maledictive acts that are formally recognized by governments in legislation such as the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and Racial Hatred Act 1995 (Cth). Vilification is a public act that utilizes words, images, actions or gestures in order to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person or group of persons on the basis of their racial and homosexual status or identification (Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 [NSW]: ss. 20B-C; 49ZXA-ZXB).

When analysts begin to address the perceived rise of fear in modern societies, it is often couched in terms of the fear leading to loathing; fear created by random criminal behaviour such as vandalism, home invasion or physical assault, which then leads to a loathing of criminals who dare to break the peace of everyday life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.