I remember in school when a bully was confronted by a teacher after being caught picking on a fellow student. The bully said, “I’m not hurting anyone, they are just words.”
What we witnessed during the recent election campaign and what we see on the internet every day is far worse than anything that I ever heard that bully say.
Words are as powerful as any weapon, as useful as any tool and their consequences can last a lifetime.
Over time I have noticed, and so have many others, that hateful, intolerant and offensive language has grown in usage and proliferation on the internet, social media and even in daily conversation.
As I said in the House of Commons ahead of Remembrance Day, “Tens of thousands of Canadians fought hate. They gave their lives to put down those who sought to reshape human existence through hate. They gave their future so that we could have one. There could be no greater dishonour to their memory and their sacrifices than for us to give up on the fight against hate. Yes, we have the freedom to speak our mind in Canada, but that freedom was found in the fight against hate. Let us not forget that.”
This type of hate and intolerance exists throughout the political spectrum. Each justifying their own abhorrent behaviour against the behaviour of those they are in disagreement with. Two wrongs do not make a right.
As a society, it is time we take a stand against this type of behaviour. It is toxic and can have many lasting, unintended and deadly consequences. History is littered with examples of what happens when hate and intolerance are allowed to grow within a peaceful society. Eventually that society ceases to exist. Let’s not follow those dark paths of history.
When I spoke about hate crimes in Parliament I said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Please do something and take a stand against hate and intolerance in your own way.
We can no longer stand by ignoring the hate and intolerance of others while trying to simply dismiss their actions as “just words”.