Friday, December 13, 2013

Prefabricated Generalization

Hello everyone. This is The Daily Bone and I’m your doggie host Chester L. W. Spaniel.

Getting back to the subject of hate on the internet, I have come up with a word to describe it:  prefabricated generalization. This means somebody has decided that a certain other person or group has specific characteristics which classify them as bad, evil, hateful, selfish, crazy, extremist, radical, criminal, lazy, stupid, deplorable, despicable … well, you get the idea. Through the internet and the media, they spread the word that this or that group or person has these characteristics, and a large number of people hear and read it, and consequently believe it, whether it is true or not. They tell their friends and contacts, and the number of haters explodes exponentially. It isn’t long before an entire, say, political party, religion, nationality, class, has been totally demonized. Everybody has lots of fun sharing the hate and vilification online.

You might say, oh I was just fooling around and blowing off some steam by participating in hate talk and nobody will be hurt by it. But what if, after you made hateful statements online, you find out that your next door neighbor, or your coworker, or your best friend’s mother, or your child’s classmate, or a facebook friend is of the belief you said you hated so bitterly and made cruel jokes about, and now you have hurt his feelings and made an enemy of him. You see? Hate only creates more hate.

My erudite colleague Joseph (Joey dog) Spaniel pointed out something very important about my term prefabricated generalization. He says, isn’t that same thing as racism? Think about it. And that’s a memo.

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