Some students from Humboldt State University in California have created a hate map of the U.S. by compiling all of the geo-located hate speech tweets from Twitter. You can look at it here. The students apparently checked the tweets to make sure they were actually hateful (and not just misconstrued uses of words that may seem like hate speech but aren’t—e.g., “I hate crackers” or “This British guy asked me if I wanted to smoke a faggot,” etc.) The map clearly shows that pretty much the entirety of the Eastern U.S. is filled with haters.
At first glance, the West Coast seems like it must be a really tolerant place in comparison. Until you realize that the blank spaces in the map are places where few to any people actually live. Like in the middle of the desert for instance. There are no haters in Death Valley. Big surprise there.
In fact, look at this population density map of the United States:
Notice anything? It looks a whole lot like the haters map doesn’t it? So pretty much all the Twitter map teaches us is that there are haters wherever there are people. In fact, it indicates that people are haters. Which is far more interesting than what the study may have intended to prove. But pretty much any rapper in history could have told you about the insuperable ubiquity of haters. What we have here is just as much a heat map as a hate map—it seems it’s just mapping the thermal output of human bodies.
There are other problems with this study beyond the fact that it proves the platitudinous. For one, it focuses on tweets. Which may not make for a terribly accurate sampling of the population. I am a very good hater, for instance. But I do not have a twitter account. So the big red dot that should be hovering over my computer is missing. Pity.
The other much larger issue is that the hate that is being aggregated is of only three kinds: “homophobic” (whatever that means), “racist,” and “against disabled persons.” So, what about Roseanne Barr’s tweet in protest to Dan Cathy’s personal views on homosexuality (which surely would have been marked as “homophobic” if he had tweeted them)? She wrote:
anyone who eats Sh*t Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ
Well, let’s see. It’s not homophobic. It’s not racist. And it’s not against disabled persons. So I guess it’s not hate speech! Right? But if they had included this kind of vitriolic bigotry in their hate map, the more populated areas of California would be blindingly, radioactively, neon red.
So again, we are all haters. That’s not really in question. The question is, “Do we hate the right things?” And that is just another way of asking, “Do we love the right things?” According to one famous hater: “Your languid hater must ever be a languid lover. Give me, then, by all means, a good, honest hater.”