Racial, Ethnic, and Homophobic Violence: Killing in the Name of Otherness

By Michel Prum; Bénédicte Deschamps et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Hate speech made easy
The virtual demonisation of gays

Marguerite J. Moritz1

Rather than seeking to win adherence through superior reasoning, hate
speech seeks to move an audience by creating a symbolic code for violence.
Its goals are to inflame the emotions of followers, denigrate the designated
out-class, inflict permanent and irreparable harm to the opposition, and
ultimately conquer
.2

Prior to the advent of the Internet, anti-gay campaigns often focused on conventional delivery systems: newsletters, group mailings, church sermons and various other public relations efforts. As representations of gays and lesbians moved from the media margins to the mainstream, television became an important battleground. After decades of debates and struggle, gay characters are now regularly featured on American network and cable programming and gay issues are prominently covered in the news. To be sure, this remains a contentious issue, but mainstream American television in the twenty-first century is more respectful of gay people and their civil rights claims than it has ever been.

Archconservatives who want to deliver anti-gay rhetoric have an increasingly difficult time doing it even on cable television, where constraints are almost non-existent. The Reverend Jerry Falwell was widely denounced in 2001 when he used his television programme to accuse gays and lesbians (along with feminists and abortionists) of being at least partly responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks.3 In 2003, NBC dismissed cable talk show host Michael Savage after the following exchange with a caller:

Savage: You’re one of those sodomites? Are you a sodomite? So you are
one of the sodomites? You should only get AIDS and die you pig, how’s
that? (Exclamation by crew/camera people, who yell ‘whoa’) Why don’t
you see if you can sue me, you pig? You got nothing better than to put
me down you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a
sausage and choke on it, get trichinosis. Do we have another nice caller
who is busy and didn’t have a nice night in the bathhouses and angry at

-123-

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