Current Conditions / Features/Entertainment / Uncategorized

Current Conditions: Digital hate speech is real in Kansas

I think we can all agree the Internet is a funny thing.

It’s totally democratized knowledge, culture and education, creating an entire digital world. Of course, just like in the real world, the digital world can be ugly.

Consider the Hate Map, developed by Monica Stephens of Humbolt State University. The map, part of her larger project “The Geography of Hate,”  shows geo-coded tweets in the U.S. from June 2012 to April 2013 containing hate words. Over the year, Stephens and her team analyzed more than 150,000 tweets containing hate words (homophobic and racist slurs, as well as the word “cripple” used negatively). The tweets were aggregated to the county level and then normalized by the total Twitter traffic in each county.

According to this map, Kansas is comparable to the rest of the eastern half of the U.S. That’s not a good thing, my friends. It means we have a problem, at least on Twitter, with hate speech.

On the map, the big red and blue orb in the Stafford County area immediately grabbed my attention.                                          According to it, theScreen Shot 2013-05-17 at 7.47.17 PM area is a hotbed of hate speech in Kansas, yet it’s not exactly in an extremely populated region. The map allows you to see specific words and two slurs were used the most frequently. I’m not going to repeat them here, but one has to do with a slur used during the Vietnam War, while the other is often used to refer to gays and lesbians.

So, why these slurs and this area? Next week, I’m going to look into this. In the meantime, if you have any ideas, please share them.

-Kayla Regan, Current Conditions

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