Hateful Rhetoric is Bad, Actually

The logo of Pewdiepie, an internet personality notorious for his frequent use of slurs.

To Clarify:

  • I am not referring to reclamation of slurs. This meme would be used in response to a white person wanting to say the n-word, not a black person doing the same. 
  • I do not mean to say it is illegal or impossible for someone to use a slur. I think we can all agree that you could say a slur. Instead, the meme discusses the social consequences of knowingly using an offensive word. I am alluding to the phenomenon in which someone uses a slur to either provoke a “triggered” response, or the use of a slur to demonstrate certain power or freedom. 

The Meme Template – Hard to Swallow Pills:

  • If someone is unaware, “hard to swallow pills” refers to commentary which is not often considered because of its controversy. 
  • In this case, the meme is politically charged. Typically speaking, the right argues that saying slurs is simply an expression of free speech. The typical consensus on the left, however, is that negative backlash toward the use of slurs is not censorship, but instead a reaction against words that provoke violence and the degradation of others. 


  • In other words, wanting to use insensitive rhetoric to express freedom of speech (if that is truly the intention) does not fulfill this intention but instead often just associates one with bigotted people. 
  • No one is arguing one cannot physically or legally say a slur. Instead, one should ask themselves why saying the slur is that important, especially when there are other means of expressing freedom of speech and saying a slur will more than likely associate one with those who use a given slur to degrade others.

One thought on “Hateful Rhetoric is Bad, Actually

  1. 5 Canons – Modern Meme Application:

    The five original canons, invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery can all apply
    to the creation and execution of a meme. That is, they can with some changes to fit the
    modern and electronic world.

    Invention remains the same for the most part. At least with regards to my own meme, I had
    an argument I wanted to convey about modern rhetoric. Specifically, I wanted to convey a
    view on what dictates free speech, how hate speech is differs from free speech, and how
    those that use hate speech appear to others.

    Arrangement also still applies to meme-making. I used second person in order to address
    the reader directly and increase interest. In our modern world, with short attention-spans,
    it’s important to grab readers’ attention within seconds. I also used the language the meme
    format typically follows, eliminating confusion and making it easily recognizable. For the
    “hard to swallow pills” meme, the sentence structure is usually disproves a stated or
    unstated belief held by a majority. So: “Someone doing/saying __ doesn’t mean/is not the
    same as __” or “You shouldn’t do/say/ask __”

    Style has a modern application as well. Style is the process of choosing a meme template
    which will most effectively and efficiently convey a message. I wanted to convey something
    controversial yet truthful, hence “hard to swallow pills.” This step may take place before
    invention, however, and, depending on the meme, may be intrinsically tied to arrangement
    as some memes have specific words used or a specific sentence structure. In the case of
    my meme, style and arrangement are closely linked, but style still fits as the third step.
    Memory is not necessary with regards to memes as most information is so accessible.
    However, the ability to research and find this information is an important skill. Those
    proficient will know what search engine is best to use for the information or medium of
    information they want. Knowing what search phrases to use in Google is also essential. In
    other words, writing an entire sentence is the least efficient way to get accurate and
    relevant results from Google. If I needed to defend the argument my meme was making, I
    would need to find evidence of Pewdiepie’s hate speech and his unconvincing apologies.
    Additionally, to make the meme I would have to find the meme template and know how to
    apply text to the template.

    Delivery in the case of memes does not refer to any actions or work done by the meme-
    maker directly. Instead, delivery refers to the platform on which the meme is seen. On
    Facebook, due to the demographic, my meme may not do as well. Many people may not
    agree with the message or even understand the meme template. Facebook memes often
    seen as “ancient,” with the typical Top Text, Photo, Bottom Text template. However, on
    Twitter, Tumblr, or even Reddit the meme’s political message and frequently used template
    would be intriguing to some, important to others, and recognizable to all.

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