Hate Spin: The Twin Political Strategies of Religious Incitement and Offense-Taking

Cherian George*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Religious intolerance manifests itself periodically in ways that test democracies' commitment to freedom of expression. Responding to this challenge requires a conceptual clarity that is often lacking. This article proposes a corrective lens in the form of a new concept, hate spin. Hate spin absorbs the familiar concept of hate speech, or incitement, and combines it with the less understood strategy of offense-taking or manufactured indignation. The two sides of hate spin—incitement and offense-taking—are used by political entrepreneurs to mobilize supporters and coerce targeted groups. Incitement may warrant legal intervention, but censorship is a counterproductive response to offense. The article explicates the concept of hate spin, identifies its key characteristics, and suggests directions for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-175
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number2
Early online date22 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Freedom of Expression
  • Hate Speech
  • Incitement
  • Offense
  • Religion


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