Commentary: How hate speech can harm your brain
In a flurry of confident pronouncements within an hour of the massacre at a Las Vegas country music festival, conservative commentators and activists linked the perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, to liberal or Islamist influences. Rush Limbaugh, still the doyen of right-wing talk radio, credited Islamic State with being Paddock’s ideological home, arguing that it was disguised by the liberal media because “for the American left, there is no such thing as militant Islamic terrorism.” Pat Robertson, the socially conservative activist and televangelist, said the shooting stemmed from the news media’s and liberal protesters’ “profound disrespect for our president” and other institutions.
On the other side of the American culture war, a CBS vice president and legal counsel, Hayley Geftman-Gold, posted a Facebook comment that she was “not even sympathetic” to the victims because “country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” Unlike her right wing opposites, she suffered for her opinion: she was fired from what must have been a lawyer’s dream job.
Should any of these comments − the work of, at most, a few minutes when not that of a few seconds − be the concern of the state? They easily fall into the category of bad taste. Some remarks, especially Geftman-Gold’s sneeringly callous comment – for which she has since apologized – could cause further misery in those seeking to cope with the trauma of injury or loss of someone close to them. REUTERS