Hate Speech is not a Victimless Act

You Just Look Like a Bigot

Speech and freedom are tricky when it comes to the American government. As was recently pointed out in an article in the InForum that has been shared across campus, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The article was addressed by NDSU’s Student Government as well as the President of the University, David Cook. However, hate speech is not a victimless act. Free speech does not mean freedom from consequences, nor does criticism equal censorship.

Hate speech creates an environment that fosters harm and abuse towards minorities, as well as making campus into a space inconducive to studying and feeling safe. Hate speech can come in many forms, but I want to address those related to homophobia.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I certainly do not find anything in the North Dakota Young Republicans Telegram group chat to be entertaining. Making threats to do worse than trigger someone can mean a lot of things, all of which should be cause for concern.

It is disappointing to see people in positions of power choosing to spread messages of hate, such as the phrases “degenerate clown”, “alphabet soup creatures”, and “Fag festival”. Choosing to share your distaste for another group of people that have likely done nothing to you is concerning.

Especially when Gallup has noted that one in five Gen Z adults identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Do they realize that they could be targeting both close friends and family members that now have even more of a reason to feel unsafe around them? People can be in a minority group, regardless of political affiliation.

Downtown Fargo during its 2022 Pride Celebration. Photo Credit | Winnie Weninger

I truly cannot comprehend how people that are not a part of the minority that is reclaiming their slur want to say one so badly. Even if someone in that community is choosing to reclaim it, it is not weaponized at the expense of others. What is so special about the word that you NEED to have it in your vocabulary? I do not want to seem condescending when I say everyone wants to be a part of the secret club, but people just want to feel special and exclusive by using slurs. 

The jokes are not, were not, and never will be funny unless you purposefully enjoy being cruel. You do not come off as funny, you just come off as an intolerant bigot. Making an anti-gay joke is meant to demasculinize another because apparently being feminine is shameful. 

Slurs are associated with trauma for a lot of people. Words have more of an impact than people realize and can be used as a form of violence. Does it make you feel cool to hurt the feelings of another and try to “trigger” them? Do you like doing something you morally should not be just because you legally can?

I think it would be safe to say that a lot of topics that are at the center of controversy come from a place of ignorance. The groups that they target are often seen as the proverbial other, or something that they cannot relate to. This fear of the unknown creates an unease that can quickly be dismantled if the threat is eliminated. This need to eradicate a threat is what can lead to devastating acts of violence. 

According to Forbes, transgender people are twice as likely to die as cisgender (their gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth) people. For many transgender women, the threat of a cisgender male harming them after finding out that they are trans is constantly looming over them. 

Why do you want to experience discrimination so badly? Do you think it is fun to be called those slurs both to your face and behind your back? Do you wish that you had the serious fear of being a victim of a hate crime for something about yourself that you cannot control? Do you want your family to abandon you for loving someone that does not align with their ideas of morality?

Gay marriage (2015) was legalized two years after Disney’s Frozen (2013) came out. Really let that sink in. It has only been authorized for two consenting adults, regardless of gender identity, to be joined in legal matrimony for seven years. Outside of that, two years ago the Supreme Court decided (Bostock v. Clayton County) that employees cannot be fired for being gay or transgender under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I truly cannot comprehend how people that are not a part of the minority that is reclaiming their slur want to say one so badly

If you are dealing with internalized homophobia, I think it is important to do some deep self-reflection and learn why you think that way. It is okay to be your true, authentic self, as long as you are not hurting anyone else in the process. Sure, you can say what you want. However, take the time to think about if that is how you want others to perceive you. Do you think that threatening the safety of others is how you are going to reach your best potential? 

I recommend you really ruminate on what has been said by President Cook, “NDSU values a community that is inclusive and collegial, and those comments are not reflective of our NDSU values. I encourage everyone to continue to work toward a community of respect as we start our semester. This is critically important.” 

What was said by the North Dakota Republican Party should also be reflected upon: “The NDGOP flatly condemns the offensive statements made by a group of Young Republicans this week on their chat platform. We have always encouraged diversity of thought and respectful discourse, along with respect for our political opponents.”

In light of what has been said, I highly encourage people to take the time to learn more about LGBTQ+ history and the continuing struggles that those in the community still face today. The best way to empathize with others is to talk to them and uplift their voices. One important way that this can be done on campus is by calling out bigoted language when you hear it. Another way is by attending multicultural events that are put on or by going to club meetings that do so. NDSU’s Pride Alliance is committed to providing a welcoming and safe place to express who you are free and without judgment. We know that love wins.

Leave a Reply