Conflict Resolution 301 Mary Eng Final Paper 9-8-10 for Amanda Byron

Hate Speech or Free Speech: Contradicting Embedded Marginalizations

International norms of permissible language are affected by a range of factors not least of which is the subtext, context, culture, and the panoply of available expressions. I find this issue so crucial to our ability to navigate conflict, because the propagandas of the many medias inure us to certain linguistic norms. If we were to uncover the duplicity and bias of these norms, we might find a way to make a clear space for more rapid progress towards peace and equality. In the mean time, as the vernaculars are clouded by power paradigms conferring “free speech” to the powerful, and silence to the dehumanized, we might find new ways to employ the laws of our time, or other methods of power towards a goal of conflict transformation which heeds the poisonous effect of a language of degradation on otherwise innocent subjects. Indeed, among progressive political cultures, the rejection of epithetical naming in growing as a strategy of de-escalation of conflict and power-mongering. The trend is towards self-authorship, self-definition. Genderizing terms might be reserved by the genderizers. If i call myself man, woman, or anything in between, it is my decision so to do. As a certain linguistic respectfulness will allow beings to communicate about their identity to other beings, we can be less limited to a Census Bureau approach to identity politics. And in looking at the stratifications which occur even within our languages, we might sense that language itself can dehumanize the subject. In this paper, I write with great reverence for ahimsa, a principle of non-violence in word, thought, and deed. It is with the gravity of the quest to theoretize human liberation, that i seek to put into question the blind acceptance for words such as “race” or racializing

words, “gender” or genderizing modalities. If our orientation and identity were more fluidly, or vaporously known, as Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble propounded in 1990 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_Trouble, we might grasp more fully the performativity of all social constructs. As I personally reject the words woman, white, vegan, straight, atheist, christian, jewish, gay, bisexual, caucasian----I wish for a world in which we, humans, could be, to each other as humans, and humane. In a world built on definitions I wish we might look more sensitively at the violence of our words, and critique the biases handed down to us from centuries of colonialism and imperialism. So, as “women” why must we accept the “b****” as doxa? I think words such as this are meant to humiliate and degrade, even they who pretend to find empowerment in their utterance. So that I refuse to utter such a word. I think it injures they who stand in its frequency. It is etymologically rich in hatred, dominance, fear, submission. I would rather die than ever hear it again. It destroys me with its harsh sound. I hear it with pain. So too, with words of racism, homophobia, hatred of any kind. After the Holocaust, Europe became concerned with the linguistic precursors to genocide. Here in America, we call this free speech. Undocumented workers are not illegal. Sex workers are not criminals. In our languages lie many hidden judgements. How can we begin to speak to each other when our language is full of land mines? No human is illegal. No law made by men, or by racist men, trumps the humanity of a natural law of human dignity. But in power relations, in media control, language is controlled,and language controls us. Issues of the American justice system as it situates itself within the larger international law community, will reveal the way that American values and systems are particular unto themselves. Hate speech, is a concept which could be described many ways. In this paper I would like to contrast different conceptualizations of free speech with controllable speech, and show how different cultures control speech based on differing value priorities. In Sweden, a Christian minister was removed from the pulpit and taken to jail for hate speech against homosexuals. We have no such law here in the USA to protect against the dissemination of hateful ideologies. I would like to uncover the origin of the phrase “free speech” itself, and then find other synonyms, and discuss

the way our way of speaking about hateful speech affects our ability to regulate it. This matter I see as intrinsically useful to the progress of Conflict Resolution as a discipline and as a function method of de-escalating conflict. It could be shown that so long as people engage in unmitigated hate speech, the very words themselves are shaping the way we perceive beings and the world. As more companies and jurisdictions become aware of the potential pattern of hatred and escalation that can be spawned with a few mere words, our understanding of the interconnectedness of language and violence will expand. So as Conflict Resolution matures as a discipline, it will not fail to take into consideration the psychologically demoralizing effects of language, and the way epithets and slurs rob the referent of dignity, self-definition, and a positive identity. As words of hate paved the way for dehumanizations, genocides, and crimes of violence, we might begin to give more attention to the way language creates victims and inflames aggressors. A linguistics of degradation humiliates its referent, while denying them control of the economy of language, and denying the significance of the linguistic debasement. And then, when a hate crime occurs, the chain of culpability is broken from the provocative language and ideology of hatred. This is insidious. As we proceed into a future of equality and justice, it will be necessary to examine the effects of language and the realities it constructs. If gendered declensions reinforce gender stereotyping as French feminist Luce Irigaray uncovered, we might begin to transcend the languages that oppress us and confine us to simplistic binaries. http:/ /www.iep.utm.edu/irigaray/ What is essential to note internationally is the priority the American colonies endowed to freedom of speech. While our freedom protects Nazi speech, Europe, as tortured by WWII, restricts Holocaust-denying, Nazi memorabilia, and speech inciting potentially genocidal hatred. Beneath the restricted speech is there less racism? More? Or does political repression fuel radical fringe ideologies? As international companies appear on the stage they restrict internet speech as was shown in the Nazi memorabilia case with Ebay in 2003. http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/758221/eBay-Bans-Nazi-Hate-Group-

Memorabilia.htm And here in the states, internet speech runs rampant under the notion of free speech. http://techcrunch.com/2009/05/10/jew-haters-welcome-at-facebook-as-long-as-theyarent-lactating/ Unless it pertains to the newly demonized “eco-terrorism” as restricted by Patriot Act era Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, or the literal annihilation of ecoactivists by government assassinations. But overall, libertarianism has clouded the possible discourse, making way for a future where both burka and islamophobia are protected as “free speech.” http://hijabniqab.blogspot.com/ In what way can we conquer the banality of evil and understand ahimsa, non-violence in thought, word, and deed? http://www.dlshq.org/teachings/ahimsa.htm Could we universalize its principles? Gandhi wrote of experiments with truth. Might we write for peace? What is the role of groups like ACLU to persuade towards free speech? They controversially defend across the spectrum . . . the speech of the KKK and that of gay rights. Is there a middle way? Speech for Human Rights? Could we fight to establish a correlation between violent speech and violent acts? What is a hate-free zone and by what rules might it be made???? In Hannah Arendt’s epilogue to Eichmann in Jerusalem, she explains her two years of research during Eichmann’s confinement prior to his execution. She refers to her reading of Eichmann’s then unpublished 70 page manuscript dealing with the “Jewish Question” and the “solution” of which he was a part. The very linguistic nuance of tone undermines the existence of a people by dehumanizing them by referring to their very existence as a a question, as if a very people were a problem, or universally perplexing. The framing linguistic device both accuses and tries and condemns within a word. The history of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis details the linguistic relativity which can shape the minds of a culture by the hidden biases within a working vocabulary. Our words shape our world view. If we are interjected into a culture which operates with certain linguistic currencies which deprive subjects of meaning, value, or validity, or furthermore implicates them ethically, our minds become poisoned by the lack of objectivity in the discourse. http://www.angelfire.com/journal/worldtour99/ sapirwhorf.html

What will be our way of integrating this amount of knowledge in our day-to-day attempts to operate fairly? If we are bound by terms of conflict resolution, or if we attempt to mediiate conflict, might we learn to pick our words carefully? Might we realize, that words have linguistic force of persuasion? By engaging a linguistics of oppression, be it racist, sexist, or homophobic, are we harming the cause of equality or conversely do we perhaps give power to a vicitmization which has occurred, creating a rupture in which the placidity of the polite submission to inequality is shaken? It was all the rage in the eighties and nineties to reinvigorate words of oppression and subvert them, take them back. Hiphop music was replete with the n-word and plenty of thinking feminists had taken the b-word and other words back and tried to give them a new image of empowerment. See B**** magazine. In 2006, I frankly asked the founder, if she took into consideration the effects that sexual abuse survivors might feel upon hearing a word that often accompanies or precedes acts of brutality. The very association can evoke bitter scenes of rape, incarceration, or jobplace sexual harassment. I understood the common subversion rhetoric, that we had taken the word back yadayada. But overall, I felt that leaving the dialectic within the fighting ring of the oppression, gave away more power than it conferred. She did not seem to care for my question. So too I have found, that some empowered gay men within their social groups refer to each other as “f*****s,” a word I find distasteful. While clearly the term “queer” was a reappropriated term of disparagement, as were pansies, fairies, pretty boys, etc. the word f***** seems to me to confer the most hateful, negative abasement possible. Much as does the c-word referring to female material body. Can it be reconquered? What bitterness, or linguistic and spiritual impoverishment finds power in such epithetical terms? What I wonder about American libertarian notions of free speech, is that the speech is not so much free, as enslaved to a rhetoric of debasement, created by oppressing classes, to enforce second-class citizenship. What is interesting is that the re-utilization, in a playful manner, serves as an indirect accusation of persisting civic inequity. The words themselves stop time. They shock.

The create powerful emotions. They reignite conflicts that have been pushed under the rug by oppressive culture’s attempts to narcotize us or create amnesiac bubbles in time. They might reinvigorate a chronology of abuse, but do they do more damage to they who have already been so civicly dismembered? The very concept of conflict implies a degree of suffering and emotionality that might be triggered from innumerable sources. When I heard a white male teacher repeatedly using terms of disparagement for women, my sense of passion was ignited. Why had he become a parrot of a sexism that he was born into? Why could he not see such ideologies as iron cuffs, to be rejected as ideological enslavement? Not easily prone to anger, I felt pushed to a limit. My heart raced. It seemed so obviously unfair. Why would he use terms of abuse in the classroom? What did he have to gain from slurring women, or carelessly tossing around words which turned women into things? The unspoken rule of this transaction was that I would silently submit, in deference to his authority as a PHD and teacher. The immunity he expected was disrupted as I began to question the validity or elegance of his word choice. There is a kind of peer pressure of complicity. I am still traumatized enough to remember the way I felt with horror. When he repeatedly used the word “b****in” i felt that he was marginalizing the civic issues of the day which affect women: underpay, domestic violence, rape, military sexual trauma, sexual harassment, marital rape immunity. When I asked the teacher why he used the word “tits” in class, instead of a more innocuous (though equally irrelevant) term like “breasts” he became angered and shouted about his “academic freedom.” Obviously he was unaware of the federal and state statutes prohibiting epithets and slurs of a sexual nature. To him, these words conveyed and conferred freedom. But as a (tentatively self-defined semi-) female in the class, I perceived an alternate reality. Girls I spoke with said they were afraid to speak in class. Other students missed classes to avoid the spiritual effects of an aggressive bad energy. Men felt uncomfortable too. They said so. Some women would speak up, and their words would be treated dismissively. This is what happened to me. In the sense of my struggle for conflict resolution, I found it helpful to write. I

considered it a ghettoization. I was not permitted to dominate the discourse. Squelched were my attempts to question the fundamental brainwashing inherent in the linguistics of degradation. I always have written diaries, letters, poems. This time I wrote a blog, with factual descriptions of these unsavory moments in class. Several teachers at the school had said sexist things, and even defended rape. The administration protected and defended the abuse. Now it was only fair that the world should know what humiliation women had to undergo for their state-funded college education in Los Angeles. For writing, I was threatened with suspension from the class, by the department head. The total irony of hauling me in to be censored in front of his huge Che Guevera flag was not lost on me. On surface, these teachers were progressives, radicals, socialists. I felt we had a lot in common. The main problem was that I took issue with sexist words in the classroom. They vociferously defended them, repeating them in a closed meeting in which they attempted to censor me, my letters, and my blog. It was interesting to be subject to Orwellian censorship strategies in such a “progressive” atmosphere with my pro-ganja anthropology teacher, and an expert in African American studies, the head of the department. I felt confused as to why they were progressive in some categories, but repressive of free speech, internet, and blogging, and fought so vehemently against equality for women in the classroom. I felt confused that they didn’t seem to understand the concept of “slur” or “epithet” and yet wanted me to hide their mis-statements and delete my blog to save-face for the sake of the monetization of their careers. I saw a higher value: EQUALITY. Fairness, the future. What seemed clear to me, is that by choosing a language of war you ignite war. Women could not be spoken of in such a second-class way in my presence. Besides it being illegal, which they didn’t seem to comprehend, it made them look bad. It was bad PR. It wouldn’t look good on your LinkedIn: “proud defender of the right to slur against women in the classroom.” That is why they wanted me to delete my blog. But that just made things seem worse. I had just read about the bloggers and journalists in Russia who had their fingers smashed and were beaten to the point of brain damage. http://

www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/world/europe/18impunity.html Censoring things which actually happened, and for which they were paid tax dollars, seemed outrageous to me. I was constantly thinking of Theo Van Gogh who was assassinated for his film about women, Submission. At the time, I remember feeling very clearly that if my blogging wasn’t getting me killed, I wasn’t doing enough for true equality. So nothing was really scaring me. I found it amazing that Naomi Wolf had repressed her story of harassment at Yale for twenty years. I fell in love with the instantaneous publishing online. A friend told me to stop burning bridges. Easy for him to say, from his position of white male affluence. If these words were not illegal discrimination contributing to a hostile atmosphere as I maintained in the blog http://thereallacc.blogspot.com/ in citation of CA education code 201 A-C and Title IX of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, they were surely embarrassing in a Google search index. But these professors were not students of the law in the sense that they did not understand the distinction between quid pro quo harassment and an unequal hostile atmosphere. Tireless activism produced these laws and legal theory. It is tireless activism that might make way for an even better future. I have been thinking a lot about language since around 2006 when I noticed every young person saying b**** every other word. I thought a lot about what is considered a manifestation of Tourette’s Syndrome. It is almost as if pop culture is the syndrome. We can’t stop cursing at each other. What is being accomplished? I am isolating. I do not like to be around it. In a sense, my immediate social needs as a social animal are getting subordinated to my larger philosophical desire for respect. That respect is absent from so many spheres of society. Pay inequity abounds. The USA after thirty years refuses to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. And my California anthropology teacher talks “sh*tty” “a**hole” “b****ing” “tits” and slams bulimia and transvestitism with callousness of a bull in a china shop. A woman is raped every six minutes, meanwhile pop culture would infect the mouths of so many poor women that we ourselves might say the word “b****” a hundred times a day. Meanwhile I struggle through Post

Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms from a rape and near homicide in which the rapist chanted “b****” like a mantra. And then people say its just a word. I say its hate speech. Hate ideology. The word infects the minds of the young. They deserve better. They deserve silence, if not beautiful, musical words. Could we be called most honored human being? Simply? Could we revere each other? Bow, even? Could we permit words from our mouths which only heal? In the discussion of ahimsa and satyagraha, it became clear to me, that the ahimsic value of speaking and thinking no ill towards a being, was in direct contrast to the way of justice. How can you fight for justice, if you must live???? How can you diagnose the disease? What if you were wronged? To accuse, to name, to disclose the crime, whether of hate speech or something more violent, might have a violent effect on the accused? But what if everything were from love? Love for future victims? Love for the future of equality? Love for peace? Love for future growth? If I were dehumanized by these words, might I not call it out so that my sisters not undergo such an assault? I became aware then of Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed. The language of oppression might be blindly accepted, propounded, inculcated as the most insidious way of stacking the cards against human liberation. When indoctrination into any field occurs, it is important to find a unity of vision. The controlling jargon of disciplines dissolve in the face of interdisciplinary approaches and interdisciplinary people. We disrupt the closed circuits of sexist anthropology, or sexist prosecution manual guidelines, or homophobic male-dominated religious structures. These structures have embedded conflict so thick as to be catastrophic. We must take arms, blogs, words, court cases, technologies against the methodologies of oppression. We must disrupt the circuitry of hatred and the genocides it propagandizes into the realm of possibility and the real. I upload the audio file to link into the blog and make this paper a multimedia affair: http://soundcloud.com/maryeng1/bartelt-and-eckford-defend-sexist-language-at-lacc-525-10 the caption reads:

I began recording in hopes Eckford wouldn't raise his voice as much. he toned it down, but then gets pretty condescending. tag: censorship, sexism, blog, the reallacc, civil rights act, cursing, free speech This mandatory meeting I attended without representation. I then consulted with attorney Keith Fink who Eckford told to “jump in a stream.” He said "I'm going to hang up on your dumb ass" as Fink attempted to defend my free speech rights. I went to this meeting, honored that Bartelt and Eckford cared what I had to say about the future of equality. By blogging, I had gained forum and standing, whereas as an ordinary student, my words were shot down. the problem began with questioning a sexist rhetoric in the classroom. As Betty Hung of the Lawyers Guild Los Angeles points out, just because we admire the platform of a radical group, for instance the Black Panthers, it doesn't mean we should accept sexism within the progressive movement. We should question it, defy it, and correct it.

Be free, speak freely, but do no harm.