The Weaponization of Words: The Case of “Hate Speech”

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The Weaponization of Words: The Case of “Hate Speech”
The Weaponization of Words: The Case of “Hate Speech”

In the aftermath of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Marxists sought to do the same thing in the West, but something had gone wrong in Marxist theory. According to Marx, the Revolution should have erupted in advanced industrialized countries, like England, not in a backward feudal nation like Russia.

Furthermore, the Revolution in Russia should have occurred as a natural development of historical dialectics. Instead, it had to be imposed through a coup d’état by Vladimir Lenin. The revolutionaries asked if this scheme that worked in Russia could be successfully transplanted to the West. The evident answer was no. New strategies had to be elaborated.

One approach was offered by Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party. Expanding the concept of hegemony beyond Marx, who considered it merely economic, he analyzed the underlying cultural hegemony and thus developed the concept of cultural revolution. This meant that communists should seize control of the culture, manipulating it to change the mentality of society, and a revolution would inevitably come as a consequence.

Another strategy was proposed by theorists from the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University in Frankfurt, hence dubbed the Frankfurt School, who studied modern trends to produce a coherent theory for revolution in the twentieth century. Among others, they studied the manipulation of language, as in Jurgen Habermas’ analysis of social communication. To control the language is to control the people’s minds. As one begins, unconsciously at first, to think in slogans used by revolutionary propaganda and then to parrot them, he becomes increasingly incapable of expressing or even conceiving thoughts contrary to their diktats and thus is easily managed.

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The weaponization of language is integral to modern psychological warfare, or psywar. Revolutionaries, permeating major media, can literally “brainwash” public opinion into taking leftist positions through these means.

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira incisively exposed the tactic in Unperceived Ideological Transshipment and Dialogue, in which he describes the use of talismanic words: “The stratagem we refer to as the talismanic word is one of the most efficient means to carry out unperceived ideological transshipment. It essentially consists in acting over the minds of individuals, groups, or large communities in a very sui generis way by applying certain elastic words with a very astute technique.”

The technique presupposes a certain sensibility and exploits human passions. A talismanic word may admit a legitimate, even noble meaning but is abused tendentiously by loading it with others. Its unaware target uses the word, not perceiving its underlying revolutionary meanings, and thus unconsciously begins to assume a new mentality. The person is ideologically transshipped without even noticing it.

An example of such a talismanic word is gay, which is used to refer to homosexuals. While the word homosexual has a clear meaning, which immediately elicits moral rejection, the term gay presents sin against nature in a favorable light. Gay means joyful, and joy is generally perceived as a good thing. Exploiting man’s natural tendency, or passion, for happiness, its use implies that homosexuals are cheerful, whereas those who oppose sodomy are gloomy. By using this talismanic word, the moral rejection of sin wanes, opening the way for its acceptance. Accordingly, it should not be used.

Another talismanic word is racism. All men are dignified in their creation by God, and discrimination based on ethnicity is abhorrent. In 1965, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which served as a model for legislation across the globe. However, exploiting man’s natural rejection of racism, the Revolution manipulated the term by extending its meanings to situations that do not pertain to race. Italy’s 1993 Mancino law, for example, condemns “phrases, gestures, actions, and slogans that incite hatred, violence or discrimination by motive of race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.” In this talismanic sense, rejecting a false religion could be deemed “racism.”

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Stretching the meaning even further, the Italian Left declared that rejecting homosexuality constitutes “racism,” as if homosexuals were a race. In Italy, one must be careful not to express certain opinions or use certain language since the law’s provisions can send a person to prison for up to three years.

Hate speech is yet another talismanic weapon used to criminalize any opinion that contradicts revolutionary ideology. Thus, to call a homosexual a homosexual or sodomite is “hate speech.” You must call him gay. To describe abortion as what it is, the killing of an innocent preborn baby is “hate speech.” You must use the Newspeak “voluntary interruption of pregnancy.” And so on, as any criticism of revolutionary doctrine will be construed as “hate speech.” Thus, for example, any disapproval of radical feminism is seen as showing “hatred” towards women.

Once again, this stratagem manipulates the natural tendency of man to be cheerful, not negative and gloomy. It implies that while revolutionaries propose things that are positive and enjoyable, conservative reaction is negative, ugly and depressing, and, therefore, bad.

Applying the stratagem of unperceived ideological transshipment has led to a growing number of countries enacting laws that outlaw hate speech. They purport to disallow any manifestation of hatred. , which in itself would be commendable. Everybody wants to love. No one wants to hate. In reality, however, they are forcefully imposing an ideology by branding opinions contrary to theirs as hate speech. As a result, debate becomes impossible since diverging opinions will be automatically criminalized as eliciting hatred. Under a friendly mask, the Revolution is imposing a brutal dictatorship.

The action of the talismanic word can be “exorcized” through analysis. While scholars acknowledge that “hate speech is a complicated concept and there is no internationally accepted definition or understanding of it,”1 attempts have been made to manufacture one. Thus, the United Nations defines hate speech as a rejection based on discrimination: “Hate speech is discriminatory (biased, bigoted, or intolerant) or pejorative (prejudiced, contemptuous or demeaning) of an individual or group. Hate speech calls out real or perceived identity factors, including religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, but also characteristics such as language, economic or social origin, disability, health status, or sexual orientation, among many others.”2

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This construction is aped by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, which strives to apply it in the European Union while expanding it to embrace the affirmation of inequality. According to its General Policy Recommendation N° 15, “hate speech is based on the unjustified assumption that a person or a group of persons are superior to others; it incites acts of violence or discrimination, thus undermining respect for minority groups and damaging social cohesion.”3

Let us delve below the surface of this talismanic concoction. At the base of the concept of hate speech, we find the idea of discrimination, which is derived from the Latin discriminare, which means to distinguish. We are always distinguishing, for example, when we cross the street with the green light instead of red, eat a hamburger instead of a dish, or wash ourselves with water instead of petrol. We are always choosing one thing over another. In this sense, discrimination is the most mundane yet vital task one can perform.

Indeed, Saint Thomas Aquinas affirms that discrimination is the foundation of any intellectual operation: to think, the mind must distinguish. According to the Angelic Doctor, the principle of noncontradiction—that is, that a being cannot be and not be at the same time and from the same point of view—is inherent to human nature.

Not only does our mind naturally distinguish between being and non-being, but between truth and falsity, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, and so forth. In other words, we are constantly passing moral judgments based on conscience (natural law) and divine or positive laws we freely accept. Indeed, the pursuit of good, with the consequent rejection of evil, is the driving force of any human action. “The tendency towards our good is the basic impulse of our soul,” declares Fr. Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio in his renowned Treatise on Natural Law.4 Saint Thomas Aquinas also teaches that all human actions are governed by the general precept foundational to and necessary for all practical reasoning: good is to be done, and evil is to be avoided. This principle is not something we can ignore or defy.5

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Accordingly, negative opinions cannot always be construed as implying hatred. Speaking about human beings, there are distinctions (discriminations) that are against nature, for example, those based on race or health status. In these cases, there is no moral wrongdoing that can call for a rejection. The rejection of moral evil, such as homosexual sin, is an entirely different matter. Here, there is a conscious and voluntary acceptance of evil that must be rejected. This is not hate speech but honesty and, in the moral order, virtue.

We must, therefore, defend our natural right to have and express our opinions. Any curtailment of this right is a dictatorial encroachment on human rights, indeed, a denial of human nature. And when it touches upon our religious beliefs, it can constitute religious persecution, especially when aimed at the true religion instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. Icelandic Human Rights Centre, “Hate speech; an overview and recommendations for combating it,” 2018, p. 5.
  4. Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, Saggio Teoretico di Diritto Naturale, Edizioni della Civiltà Cattolica, Rome 1928, Vol. 1, pp. 14-15.
  5. Summa Theologica, I-II, 94,2.

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