There is something artificial about setting aside the venom in hate speech, and asking about its authority, neglecting the material persecution and physical violence targeted on actual human beings as its result. Hate speech has dimensions Nevertheless, the authority of hate speech matters, since authority makes a difference to what hate speech can do with words.
When the author or the voice behind hate speech regains sanity and renders a part apology removing some of the sting from its original message little does it do to repair the damage already done.
Honourable Abdoulie Saine is just one among many others using hate speech in the Gambia currently on social media.
The social media platform is a junk house of insults on people for reasons best known to the authors. Is the honourable going to be the deterrent example, I doubt it. No matter what happens in the courts on this instance, hate speech has a dirty payback package out there whether the author is recognized or not, within the jurisdiction or outside, this particular case has set the ball on a high.
There are wider implications. When hate speech has authority, it can be harder to answer with “more speech.” Hate speech can acquire strength: its force can go further than the expression of unpleasant ideas, or the wounding of sensitive feelings, to which an adequate response might be a counter-argument, or a deaf ear, or a thick skin.
But hate speech can also lose strength. In this situation, the force of hate speech is partly hostage to the responses of hearers and bystanders, and this leaves a point of vulnerability. Hate speech can be hard to answer, but an active and fortunate hearer might manage to defuse it without arguing – by blocking its authority, and thus removing a condition of its success. The unnoticed strength of hate speech therefore goes hand in hand with an unnoticed weakness.
Our diversity is our strength.