BY Paxton McLane
Have you ever seen hateful rhetoric online? Maybe a racist post, or comments meant to belittle and demean.
Dr. William Yousman, a Professor in Sacred Heart University’s Communications Department, is one of the four keynote speakers who was asked to speak in the Colloquia lecture series Heart Challenges Hate.
Heart Challenges Hate is a four-part lecture series, featuring four different keynote speakers from different academic departments. The topics include the psychological aspects of hate, hate in the media, hate and the first amendment and lastly hate in religion.
The series was created by Dr. Michelle Loris, the chair of Catholic Studies Department at SHU.
“We developed the series to respond with knowledge, reason, and dialogue to the current prevalence of hate crimes, violence, and bigotry that we are experiencing in America today,” said Loris.
The lecture series is presented by the Office of Mission and Catholic Identity.
“We believe that Universities, particularly our University, whose Mission is rooted in the Catholic Intellectual tradition and the Liberal Arts, have a critical responsibility and role to play in sustaining a democratic society in which we maintain the open flow of ideas, the rule of law, acceptance of diversity, respect for human dignity and the common good,” said Loris.
On Feb. 27, Yousman delivered his lecture to a crowd of both students and professors alike. His main message was a very simple one.
“Hate is reinforced in media messages, but the main point that I get across when it comes to hate and media, we shouldn’t only think of it in extremist places,” said Yousman. “My main message is yes, it’s there, but it’s also in what we consider mainstream media.”
Since the technological boom in the last three decades it has never been easier to be exposed to messages of hate. However, hateful messages have been in media since its birth.
“I think it’s always been the case to a certain extent, but I do think it’s just as much the case now as it was in the past,” said Yousman. “The technology gives people all new ways to disseminate and to create and distribute.”
During the lecture, Yousman talked about hate from the KKK, to hate in mainstream media. An encapsulating lecture, both students and faculty alike were fascinated with Yousman’s discussion.
Yousman hopes that the students who attended his lecture took away a key lesson about the importance of media when it comes to hate.
“People make a mistake when they dismiss the importance of media. Sometimes people will say that they aren’t affected by the media or the news, but research shows that people really are strongly affected by the media we use,” said Yousman. “The more we consume those kinds of messages the more we internalize those world views and start taking them for our own.”
The remaining Heart Challenges Hate lectures are The First Amendment and Hate on March 27 in the Martire Theatre. The final Heart Challenges Hate lecture is Hate in Religion which will take place on April 24 also in the Martire Theatre.