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What is hate speech?

Citizenship

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Intended Outcomes

  • Understanding how social identity theory creates a sense of “in-groups” and “out-groups”.
  • Identify key phrases used to distinguish between different groups of individuals.

Recap

Remind participants about the exploration and labelling of positive and negative feelings using a quadrant, and the feelings that arise when putting oneself in the position of receiving hate speech comments.

Recognising how we feel about things expressed online is key to understanding how hate speech can affect ourselves and others. The next step is to identify the features of media that constitute hate speech and identify the protected characteristics that are targeted.

The Media analysis unit offered participants the opportunity to use a set of given statements and sort these in a number of ways: positive, neutral or negative; legal or illegal; protected characteristics.

The Media production unit offered participants the opportunity to create content to raise awareness of the definition of hate speech.

Prompt Questions

These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.​​​​​​​

  • What characteristics do you use to define yourself?
  • What are some characteristics/traits that you may consider to be positive? (e.g. generous, caring, optimistic, good listener, etc.)
  • What are some characteristics/traits that you may consider to be negative? (e.g. short-tempered, cynical etc.)

Main Activity

The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:

“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”

The colour game

Use the slides for this activity.

Organisation:

Group of learners split into three sub groups:

  • The Red Convincers.
  • The Blue Convincers.
  • The Audience.

Aim:

Convincers must convince members of the Audience group to join their colour team in a two-minute pitch.

Instructions:

The game takes place over two rounds:

Round 1

The Red Convincer team and the Blue Convincer team are each given a card with a list of qualities that define their team (positive and negative).

They must make their case to the Audience group using only this information to convince the Audience to join their team - they can pick and choose which qualities they wish to talk about.

Once both teams have decided on the qualities they will talk about, and who in the team will deliver the pitch (one person or more), give each team two minutes to make their pitch to the Audience group.

Once both teams have made their pitch, ask the Audience group to move to stand next to the team that convinced them (or to stay seated if they were not swayed by either).

Ask learners from the Audience group to explain what convinced them to join that team - for example, which qualities did you identify with that made you side with them?

Ask the Audience group to return to their seats in preparation for Round 2.

Round 2

This time, both the Red Convincer team and the Blue Convincer team are each given a new card.

This card contains a list of characteristics that define their team as well as a list of characteristics that define the opposing team.

This time, the teams must make their case using any of the information available (i.e. they can use mix of information from both lists).

Once both teams have decided on the qualities they will talk about, and who in the team will deliver the pitch (one person or more), give each team two minutes to make their pitch to the Audience group.

Once both teams have made their pitch, ask the Audience group to move to stand next to the team that convinced them (or to stay seated if they were not swayed by either).

It is expected that, when given information about the opposing team, a team will begin defining themselves in contradistinction to that team, using the information they have to denigrate the other team and make their own team appear superior.

Ask the audience to talk about the difference between Round 1 and Round 2; what did they notice about the pitch that each team gave?

Tasks

Explain Tajfel’s “Social identity theory” to learners; a useful brief overview can be found here.

Explain that Round 1 was an example of “social identification” - using characteristics we relate to or have in common to identify with a group. Being part of a group gives us a sense of social identity and belonging; it also increases our pride and self-esteem. We will often enhance or exaggerate the qualities of our own group to improve our self-image.

Round 2 was an example of “social comparison” - using characteristics of an opposing group to make our own group appear better or superior. This is another way of improving or maintaining our self-image; discriminating against another group and making their characteristics appear “negative” makes our own group’s characteristics look more “positive”. We may also exaggerate the difference between our group and another in order to appear more superior.

Round 2 demonstrates the formation of in-groups (us) and out-groups (them).

Ask learners to think back to the pitches made in Round 2 - what words/phrases were used to create a division (e.g. positive “us” terms and negative “them” words)? Ask learners to record these words either by making their own individual list, or working together to write a list on a large sheet of paper/write on sticky notes.

Explain that this activity provides some insight into part of the motivation underlying prejudice and discrimination that can lead to hate speech, and provides some examples of words/phrases that may be used in hateful discourse (online and offline).

Resources

Understand how Social Identity Theory creates a sense of "in-group" and "out-group". Identify key phrases used to distinguish between different groups of individuals.

Resource

The colour game

Using characteristics to define in-groups and out-groups.

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Cards for the colour game

Using characteristics to define in-groups and out-groups.

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