How Bigotry in the Media Leads to Hate Crimes and Violence

​​Based on official statistics, hate crimes and violence are steadily increasing. During a time when the threat posed by the extremist group ISIS is growing or expanding, hate rhetoric and attacks are also considered to be at their peak. In the United States, there’s a growing anti-Islam, anti-migration, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-LGBT rhetoric, while racism and other forms of discrimination are on the rise, which eventually lead to hate crimes and attacks. There are several ways as to how a vulnerable individual or group can be influenced by such negative ideologies but perhaps the most powerful among all is mass media.

Because of freedom of expression, the media became a perfect tool for groups that espouse the aforementioned type of hate to influence people and gain more followers. As writer Chip Berlet puts it, leaders of certain groups or organizations who want to demonize the “other” or the outsider, simply have to repeat their message often enough, long enough, loudly enough and vividly enough to succeed.  “For many decades, immigrants including those who were Irish, Italian, Polish or Russian were second-class citizens. Women had few rights and were treated as the property of their fathers, then their husbands. Jews were perpetual outsiders. People with unpopular religious views were shunned and in some instances killed,” stated Berlet.

Mass media’s contribution to hate crimes and violence is mainly due to the growing problem of bigotry or intolerance not only of the news, messages, stories or films being delivered but including those of the media personalities themselves. And this is certainly true for the Western media.

So, what went wrong with the media and how does it become the perfect trigger of hate attacks and violence? Based on expert analysis, these negative effects are brought by the wrong portrayal or delivery of news, inconsistent coverage, negative influence from media personalities and the inappropriate story portrayal or characterization. For an easier understanding, the anti-Muslim rhetoric can serve as a perfect example.

Though they may not admit it, majority of news media outlets associate Muslims to violence, extremism, backward mentality etc. If a person commits a crime and he or she is a Muslim, the person’s religion is highlighted more than his/her personality or fault. The media’s inconsistent and insufficient coverage of global Muslim affairs also influenced hate rhetoric. For example, the media failed to tell the world that majority of Muslims, Muslim scholars and leaders are also condemning the acts of ISIS, that there are also Muslim groups and minorities being subjected to persecution on the other parts of the world like those in Myanmar.

No matter how a media organization claims to bring only unbiased news and opinions, its prominent media personalities still have that tendency to present their bigoted opinion to the public. Right after the Paris attacks and mass shootings in the US, a lot of media personalities eventually made accusations that Islam is essentially evil and that Muslims are terrorists.

Finally, the Western media is guilty of wrongfully portraying and characterizing Muslims and the Islam religion in its stories for decades now. In the thousands of Hollywood and other films created to date, Muslims and Arabs have traditionally been represented as oppressive, brutal, uncivilized, money-mad and heartless, etc. - Matt F. 

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Categories: Lifestyles, Human Rights

Tags: Discrimination, Hate Crime, STAND, violence


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Our mission is to protect Scientologists from intolerance and prejudice and to dispel rumors and lies about the Scientology religion, Scientologists, Church leadership and our Founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Matt Fatoux
STAND Communications Director, STAND
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