Hate Speech in High School

It’s still here, everyone. Let’s work to send it away for good.

We’ve all heard the words. We’ve seen the tweets, heard it on the news. Since the days of the Civil War, the Civil Rights era, and now today, hate speech has existed. However, it has taken on a new form in the digital medium of today.

In the days of the Civil War, words we find offensive today were commonplace and used freely as could be. Now, we see those words as derogatory and hateful, with good reason. As society passed the era of Civil War and began the era of segregation, hate speech changed dramatically for the worse. As the brave people behind the Civil Rights movement pushed for equal rights and fair treatment, segregationists pushed back with equal force against them. And in such times, the words used then are not the same now. In the digital medium, people have lost jobs, reputation, and prestige all because of a recorded phone call, a tweet, or a Facebook post. Videos of people directing hate speech at others often go viral, for good and bad reasons. In the comments section of such videos, equal amounts of support and detraction are sent to the other side.

But how does all this factor into High School? We understand that hate speech, in any way, shape, or form, is unjust and evil. Yet, people still say such words in public. With the 2016 election and the administration of President Trump, many people with such tendencies have come into the public eye. However, hate speech is more than just words. Graffiti painted on synagogues or mosques and other acts of vandalism are happening every day. These people won’t stop at vandalizing public buildings.

Allow me a personal experience. Over Labor Day weekend this year, Columbian Park Zoo was bombarded with leaflets with a clear message of hate. To the relief of many, the posters were all quickly taken down by the daily attendees of the park. I looked at one of these leaflets, and in all honesty, it made me sick. Many people will react to this sort of thing with disbelief and surprise.

We are the new generation of people who must learn not to embrace the ways of hate. As we go through our lives, we must learn to listen to the voice of kindness. There will still be those who are swayed by bias and hate, but we are better than that. High school is the perfect grounds to learn what will become of us in the adult world. In High school, we learn new things, experience all kinds of social interactions, and learn to be the best we can be. Above all, we must learn to resist hate and distrust, and rise above those who stoop so low as to degrade others based on perceived difference.

I have learned better. I have learned to feel a different emotion at this sort of speech. I do not feel disbelief or shock, I feel resolve. A resolve to be the better person, to not bow to prejudices and hate. Many will say “Sticks and stones…”, but they are wrong. Words can hurt more than a punch in the stomach, or cut deeper than a sword.

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Student views published on this website and in the print edition of The Scarlette do not necessarily reflect the views of the faculty, staff, or administration of West Lafayette High School or WLCSC.