The South Yorkshire police department in England is receiving some major backlash online for the #HateHurts campaign it’s been putting out on social media.
The way that the department has phrased tweets about this has varied from tweet to tweet, but one of them in particular asking the public to report “non-crimes” was lambasted more than others.
“In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurtsSY,” police said.
What happened to this tweet is what’s known as a “ratio” online — referring to the number of comments versus the number of likes and retweets.
One of the top replies challenging this said, “Oh really? Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, learnt when we were about 4 years old.”
Police responded to this one.
“Hi Neil, while non-crime hate incidents may not be criminal offences, they can feel that way to those affected & can sometimes escalate to crimes taking place. We work with partners to try & prevent this,” they answered.
There were a couple of other iterations of this overarching message.
Unsurprisingly, this was not received well.
University of Toronto Psychology Prof. Jordan Peterson, for example, reacted as you might expect.
“You are a pack of preposterous totalitarian fools blinded to you desire for power by your utterly false compassion,” he said. “Does that qualify as hate?”
Peterson, you may recall, rose to prominence in no small part because of his opposition to Bill C-16, which proposed “adding gender identity and gender orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act.”
He claimed that “some of the things that I say in my lectures now might be illegal” and “that they might even be sufficient for me to be brought before the Ontario Human Rights Commission under their amended hate speech laws.”
The South Yorkshire police have added fuel to this fire, and people are also leaving comments on unrelated stories at the department’s expense.
South Yorkshire police have responded to the backlash, calling it a “deliberate misrepresentation of our approach [that] has created an unhelpful distraction.”
Chief Constable Stephen Watson said that the “discussion” began after a local stabbing and said that “this incident and the statements issued on our force social media accounts provoked a wave of social commentary which was racist, abusive and offensive.”
“In the face of some pretty outrageous comments we felt compelled to reassure our communities that we do not share the views of those individuals using social media to voice their hatred, and to remind everyone of hate crime and its impact on those affected,” he said. “This appears to have been deliberately misconstrued and manipulated by some media outlets and individuals on social media to misleadingly suggest that we are encouraging people to report any incident that causes insult.”
“This is not the case,” he added.
[Image via South Yorkshire Police]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]