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Civil courage as a communicative act: Countering the harms of hate violence

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/07/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Pragmatics and Society
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)316-335
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/07/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Hate violence which denigrates a person’s social identity whether it involves
physical or verbal aggression off or online – is a communicative act. It transmits
a message to the victim that they are devalued and unwelcome. It is a
marginalising and exclusionary message. Answering back to hate violence
by challenging hateful expression is one way of responding. It is a form of
‘civil courage’. Yet why should anybody want to take a stand – given the risks
involved that perpetrators might turn on those who intervene or respond in
some other way? This paper proposes that the importance of civil courage
goes beyond being the right thing to do, or the humane thing, when a
bystander witnesses hate violence off- or online. Instead, if we comprehend
hate violence as a communicative act, and if we understand the particular
impact of the exclusionary message it sends (and understand how bystander
inaction can magnify the felt sense of social exclusion), then we might
appreciate the potential value of an act of civil courage in response. There is
a moral imperative for civil courage as it answers back to hate violence by
sending an inclusionary message to the victim – as reasoned in this paper.