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Hate speech and identity: Discourse & Society

21(1) 2739

An analysis of neo racism The Author(s) 2010

Reprints and permission: sagepub.

and the indexing of identity

DOI: 10.1177/0957926509345071

Christopher S. Josey
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

In the academy and society at large, there remains an area of discourse largely deemed too marginal to
analyze at any length: openly racist speech. It remains unexamined, in part, because much attention has
been given to covert racism. Recently, technology has allowed openly racist groups to shift strategies
for creating and maintaining their own identity. Conventional wisdom would assume that these
groups use referential or direct means of indexing identity. Using theories of discourse, this analysis
demonstrates that even the most traditional racists employ a complex pattern of voicing to indirectly
index a neo-traditional racist identity. These findings illustrate that within these communities, there
is not only a sense of whiteness, but also a set of practices delineating good and bad white identity.
Implications of these findings are discussed in the light of political and identity practices.

hate speech, identity, indexing, race, racism, register, speech, voicing, whiteness

Uncomfortable as it is to re-think cherished assumptions, uncomfortable as it is to take hate

speech seriously, there is no other course of action open. (Downing, 1999)

There exists in society a linguistic code among many. A nod here, a wink there, and a
subtle change in intonation all mark opinions and thoughts on race. The general assump-
tion by many is that matters of racism and discussions of hate speech are simply unwar-
ranted attempts by some to dredge up the past (Van Dijk, 1993). Yet in many parts of the
world, including the United States, hate speech remains a problem. Following the civil

Corresponding author:
Christopher S. Josey, Department of Communication, Room 103, Communication Building, University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign, 1207 W. Oregon, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
28 Discourse & Society 21(1)

rights movement in the USA, a feeling developed in which most assumed that racist epi-
thets and hate speech were matters of the past. Scholars have demonstrated that hate
speech and racial epithets persist, noting that more scholarly attention should be devoted
to analysis of such areas of discourse (Downing, 1999; Van Dijk, 1993). Despite attention
by some scholars, most analysis of racialized speech rests in the area of implicit or covert
racism. Consequently, a substantial portion of the larger body of racialized language
remains unexamined: the racialized discourse of hate groups. This article contributes to
the growing body of literature on racialized discourse by analyzing an excerpt from a
program broadcast by an internet web host known as Insurgent Radio. The program, The
Terrible Tommy Show, is broadcast on Insurgent Radios website, The
current analysis will demonstrate that, unlike many scholarly and folk beliefs, racist
speech is not merely referential in nature. Rather, it represents a complex set of indexical
practices, which dispel many of the myths about the simplistic strategies of racists and
racist speech. These strategies in turn have real implications for political and identity man-
agement strategies. Before this analysis turns its attention to the artifact at hand, a more
complete image of the discourse surrounding race, racism and identity must be explored.

Racism and the discourse of whiteness and identity

In both political and identity management practices, racist discourse in all forms (e.g.
covert, traditional or neo-traditional) represents what many have deemed a pervasive
and possessive investment in whiteness (Lipsitz, 1998). This whiteness has been
described as an invisible hierarchy in society, and until recently was a neglected area
of study by scholars (Brodkin, 2001; hooks, 1990, 1992). Despite efforts by many to
detail the political, structural and mediated influences that maintain a white hege-
monic order, scarce a mention had been given to the construction of white identity.
The little attention it has received usually follows two courses: a macro focus on the
formation of a larger white identity system or a micro focus on the linguistic features
of delineation between groups of whites (Brodkin, 2001). The construction of white-
ness among openly racist groups presents scholars with an opportunity to bridge this
gap by not only seeing how a more global sense of white identity is produced, but also
how at the same time a more careful indexing of good and bad white identity is
linguistically enacted. It is through this delicate balance of micro and macro identity
enactment that we see the use of strategic essentialism (Bucholtz, 2003). Through the
use of essentialist strategies, groups can assert their own identity as credible, deny
others access, call attention to a shared commonality, and establish an ongoing process
of the negotiation of authenticity (2003). There are many sites in discourse from which
scholars have tried to identify these essentialist strategies. The extant literature on
discourse and white identity practices will now be considered.

Discourse and whiteness

One of the places that scholarship on the construction of whiteness has been thriving
recently is in the area of linguistic scholarship. Here, scholars have examined three main
Josey 29

areas of investigation: whiteness in interaction, in opposition to the linguistic practices

of other groups, and in contrast to other forms of whiteness.
The first area of study examines how white identity is expressed and formed through
everyday interaction. Authors such as Rampton and Cutler focus on how white individuals
interact with African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Their theory of crossing
points to how a sense of whiteness can be easily seen when white talk intersects with lin-
guistic styles used by other racial groups (Rampton, 1995). Here, whiteness is evident not
in the definition of its essential qualities, but in the ways it changes through interaction with
AAVE linguistic practices (Cutler, 1999). What Cutler and Rampton clearly point out is
that identity, for many whites, is not static, but dynamic and multifaceted.
Other scholars have situated their discussion of white identity practices by studying
how whiteness is marked against other linguistic forms. These scholars attempt to tease
out what Hill calls the covert elevation of whiteness through language (Hill, 2001).
Bucholtz (1999) points to the use of AAVE as a moment of marking racial groups via
everyday linguistic practices. These moments form an ideology of usage that creates a
white identity that becomes visible by the illumination of such practices. Other scholars
have used a similar contrastive style to investigate white identity, demonstrating that
whiteness is all too visible to persons of color (Chun, 2001; Hill, 2001). In her study of
dialogue between Korean Americans, Chun demonstrates that whiteness is not only seen
in whites use of marginalized speech, but also through the imaginings of white language
by the racialized other (Chun, 2001). Clearly, as whiteness may be investigated through
its marking of other language forms, it may also be examined through the marking of
white identity by the marginalized other. Yet to stop our examination at this point would
be to miss the varied notions of identity within the larger white hegemony.
Following the initial studies of whiteness, scholars began to explore the ways in which
white identity is constructed, including a diversity of whiteness. One of the earliest inves-
tigations into this phenomenon was Hartigans detailing of the intraracial distinctions
among whites in Detroit (Hartigan, 1999). Using Hillbilly identity and its contrast to other
white identities, Hartigan demonstrated that whites often delineate levels of belonging and
hierarchy within the larger white hegemony. Bucholtz notes that seeing whiteness as hege-
monic, normative and unmarked reifies a static conception of whiteness, ignoring the sym-
bolic resources that cleave the larger white ideology (Bucholtz, 2001). In her investigation
of Super Standard English among nerds, Bucholtz demonstrates that whites can use regis-
ter shifts to mark difference within their own race. Trechter and Bucholtz showed that
although difference can cleave the larger white ideology, whiteness on the whole maintains
its hegemonic position through a shared ideological norm, which evades essentialist cate-
gorization (Trechter and Bucholtz, 2001).

Studies of whiteness and racism

Although much has been said about racism recently, much scholarly attention regarding
racism has focused on a more covert manifestation of it. Hill notes that racism should be a
central question for current and future research (Hill, 1998). Scholars such as Van Dijk and
Hill have adeptly noted that the seemingly simple tenets of racist practices are far from
30 Discourse & Society 21(1)

irrational and seldom the result of ignorance (Hill, 1998; Van Dijk, 1991, 1993). Rather,
these practices are often complex and deliberate forms of maintaining a privileged status in
society (Van Dijk, 1993). Many scholars have investigated the adoption of marginalized
linguistic practices by whites as a locus of such practices (Bell, 1999; Hill, 1998; Kiesling,
2001a, 2001b). Such areas of linguistic practice may seem innocuous on the surface, but
play a powerful role in the maintenance of the white hegemonic order, furthering the sub-
ordination of racial minority groups on both political and social levels. This, in turn, has
real implications for persons of color in their access to equal treatment.
Kiesling notes that little work has been done on whiteness and power (e.g. political)
relations. In his analysis on the stances of whiteness in fraternity discourse, Kiesling dem-
onstrates a tie between marking practices and the stereotyping effects that result from the
adoption of the linguistic practices of marginalized groups (Kiesling, 2001a). Through the
use of AAVE, whites not only construct their own identity, but also mark African
Americans in a hyper masculine and highly stereotyped manner (2001a). This serves to
further exclude persons of color from membership in high levels of the hierarchy.
Outside of fraternal organizations, Hill demonstrates how whites use of Mock
Spanish constitutes a racialized form of discourse, which can easily be passed off as try-
ing to be hip (Hill, 1998). Moreover, whites view those who take offense to such acts as
having no sense of humor, denigrating them twice in the process. Hill demonstrates that
the racial markers employed by whites when using Mock Spanish operate at both a direct
and indirect level of indexing (1998). Although the object of study was a covert form of
racialized discourse, Hills findings make clear that other forms of racialized discourse
may operate in a similar fashion. Taken together, previous studies illustrate that racial-
ized speech constructs a white identity that is more complex than is commonly accepted
and has real implications for those who practice and encounter it. The current discourse
under analysis will now be situated.

The Terrible Tommy Show: Situating the program

Insurgent Radio represents a loosely connected group of extremely mobile, technologi-
cally savvy white supremacists. Although the group supports the efforts of other non-
affiliated groups, they represent no formal organization. Insurgent Radio is an advocate
of the Lone Wolf strategy, described as similar to a terrorist cell structure. Their website
has a collection of many different content areas (audio, video, text, links, and a web
store). Tom Metzger, a self-proclaimed racist, runs Insurgent Radio and other content on
the website. The main area of the site is a large repository of hundreds of roughly hour-
long audio programs that can be streamed or downloaded for future listening.
The Insurgent Radio headquarters is located in Temecula, California. Its director, Tom
Metzger, also directs a group known as the White Aryan Resistance. He has had a long
career of opposing civil rights groups while advocating racist beliefs. (A complete review
of his beliefs and positions can be found at Metzger, also the host of The
Terrible Tommy Show, broadcasts frequently, although not on a regularly scheduled basis.
The Terrible Tommy Show is formatted like a normal call-in radio talk show. Because of the
sporadic broadcast schedule, Metzger uses pre-recorded listener calls, responding to them
live during his show. To create a live program feel, Metzger adds digital phone sound
Josey 31

effects before each recorded phone comment. After each call, Metzger addresses the issues
raised by the callers.
This analysis is part of a larger corpus of more than 20 hours of recorded and tran-
scribed data from The Terrible Tommy Show. The artifact being considered is an excerpt
clipped from the 10 February 2006 broadcast. This excerpt is representative of the views,
procedures and larger body of broadcasts on Sample reliability was
determined by listening to a random sample of eight full-length broadcast programs of
The Terrible Tommy Show. This analysis was performed using a downloaded MP3 of the
show as it allows precise playback for analysis.

Method of analysis
The format of this program presented a unique challenge for analysis. What seemed
somewhat interactive was actually a series of pre-recorded questions followed by live
responses. Since callers phoned in their responses to an answering service, they were
not identifiable by name in most circumstances. As a result, only two voices in the tapes
could be attributed to a particular individual. Even the host of the show inserted some
degree of ambiguity by referring to himself in the third person at times. To be sure of
the hosts identity as Tom Metzger, Insurgents website was consulted and a web search
was conducted to verify the information listed by Insurgent Radio.
This semi-live formatting necessitated a different methodological framework than that
used for live call-in shows. The current framework uses elements from Goffmans footing,
Bakhtins notion of voicing, Worthams dialogic approach and Hills nonverbal tools
(Goffman, 1981; Hill, 1995; Koven, 2002; Wortham, 2001). Goffman provides a means of
illuminating interactional positioning using his concept of footing (Goffman, 1981). Each
speaker, according to Goffman, uses verbal and nonverbal signals to index their position in
a given discursive act. He explains that subtle position shifts among speakers are used to
align themselves in differing ways with audience members. The most important contribu-
tion Goffman makes to this analysis is that he sees context as critical in the analysis of
discourse interaction. Although the contextual markers noted by Goffman will prove criti-
cal in the current analysis, they do not provide an in-depth way in which to tease out how
a speaker can occupy multiple positions concurrently.
The ways in which speakers index meaning by occupying multiple positions concur-
rently was theorized by Bakhtin in his foundational work on discourse in novels (Bakhtin,
1981). Bakhtin advances the concept of voicing and ventriloquation, noting that speakers
can at the same time occupy multiple positions in a single utterance. Voicing occurs
when a speaker reports the speech of others and double voicing is possible in that a
speaker can voice his own opinions while reporting the speech of others. This voicing
allows speakers or characters to position themselves at a similar or differing opinion by
employing various language strategies (1981). The indexical meaning of this positional-
ity is important in understanding how an author sees himself in any situation. However,
what Bakhtin lacks is a systematic set of tools for approaching and identifying double
voicing, voicing and ventriloquation.
Worthams approach to narrative analysis borrows much from Bakhtin in his develop-
ment of a set of tools for a more quantitative analysis of speech. Citing deficiencies in the
32 Discourse & Society 21(1)

tools available to scholars and students for analysis of narrative text, Wortham develops
a set of tools for identifying Bakhtins notion of voicing and ventriloquation (Wortham,
2001). The concepts of double voicing, voicing and ventriloquation paint what he says is
a dialogic, mediated and emergent picture of analysis (2001). In order to clearly identify
each instance of voicing, Wortham advances five basic tools for scholars: reference/
predication, metapragmatic descriptors, quotation, evaluative indexicals and epistemic
modalization. Of these tools, this analysis will rely on evaluative indexicals (ways of
speaking which are associated with particular kinds of groups and therefore index par-
ticular meanings) and reference/predication (in which a speaker references or predicates
persons or objects by characterizing them in a particular light that carries meaning).
While Wortham adds much to any scholars toolset for analysis, his methodology leaves
much to be desired for analysis of subtle markers of voicing in intonation and nonverbal
areas. To add this element to analysis of a text, one must consider Hills methodology.
Hill advances that lexical choices in large stretches of discourse create plot and episodic
structure (Hill, 1995). Further, intonation cues used by speakers enable scholars to discern
how a speaker positions him- or herself relative to the referent object. She identifies tension
building, pace, intonation and intonational breakthrough as means to demonstrate the poly-
phonic nature of voicing (1995). All of these tools will be used in the following analysis.
Each author provides valuable tools for a fine-grained analysis of the current artifact.
Taken alone, each tool leaves much to be desired and substantial meaning yet to be dis-
covered. This analysis combines the most relevant aspects of each authors approach to
build a solid framework to tease out the full meaning in the current data set. Combining
these tools into a theoretical framework allows one to see how Bakhtins notion of voic-
ing is played out through register shifts in Tommys portrayal of three distinct identities.
As will be demonstrated, Tommy is utilizing a complex set of indexical strategies to
weave a set of identities which reveal much about how he positions himself to the listen-
ers and a larger white identity. Further, this framework allows one to understand the
intentionality of Tommy and how he sees the objects of reference in his speech (most
notably in this excerpt, other hate groups and minorities).

Voicing: Using register shifts to index identity

Throughout the course of his radio program, Tommy adeptly employs shifts in register to
index three distinct identities: the good ol boy, the expert and the insulter. Through the
indexing of these identities, he creates not only a sense of whiteness in general, but more
specifically what he considers to be a more holistic notion of good white identity. For
Tommy, each of these identities corresponds with a register shift in which he positions
himself differently depending on the topic he is referring to. Through his use of racialized
indexes, he paints an intricate picture of the nature of more overt forms of racist speech.
Tommy makes certain assumptions regarding his audience that Hill would consider build-
ing solidarity (Hill, 1996). More than this, Tommy assumes a level of solidarity, which he
attempts to reinforce by employing certain identities through register shifting.
This assumption of a shared belief system or solidarity can be seen when Tommy is
responding to the first caller in extract 1.
Josey 33

Extract 1
7 Tommy: Well one size never fits a:ll >my friend< and uh the worst thing to do is.
8 uh start dating a new woman and try to give her the whole picture the whole program all
9 at once. Trying to dump it into her brain and send her into total shock because most
10 people go around not noticing a lot of things uh racially they dont notice a lot of things
11 and they dont pay any attention to anything thats going on in the government >or
12 anything ELSE< so you got to give it to em a little bit at a ti:me it dont dont uh
13 dont flood the CA:RBURETOR as wed say back in the o:ld days so uh uh dont dont
14 choke it >dont choke that carburetor to much< just give it the old Chinese uh uh
15 water torture type a little >drip drip drip< on the head and uh but everyone of thems
16 different and some may jump on into it immediately

In this stretch of speech, Tommy is advising a caller on how to deal with his girl-
friend on matters of race. He begins with a colloquial expression in line 7, empha-
sizing that they are both of a like mind. He attempts repeatedly to foster a sense of
solidarity by maintaining a colloquial register throughout this section. However, he
is also engaging in what Bakhtin calls double voicing in that he is directly position-
ing himself as a buddy and one who has been there and done that. Notice in lines 12
to 14 that Tommy invokes an almost grandfatherly expression of metaphor.
Referencing older times and experience through the metaphor of a carburetor (a
device no longer in use by most car manufacturers), he positions his footing in the
interaction as both a kindred friend and wise old soul worthy of dispensing advice.
Of further worthwhile note are the last lines (1416), in which Tommy conjures up
images of traditional forms of interrogation stereotypically associated with Asian
Militaries. This is of special importance. By invoking such an image, not only is
Tommy promoting solidarity between himself and his caller, but he is also assuming
a preexisting solidarity. In this, Tommy is presupposing that anyone who listens to
his show must be of a like mind and have a similar worldview on racial issues.
Interesting to note, however, is that although Tommy makes explicit reference to a
known stereotype of Asians in dispensing advice, it is still more of a covert form of
racial degradation than one might expect from an openly racist radio program. In
fact, of the sampling analyzed by this author, only a handful of outright racial slurs
were found. Throughout this passage, Tommy remains in a relatively colloquial
register and keeps to an informal manner of speech.
One final note on this passage includes what Hill considers intonational breakthrough.
This is important in that it signals a break in which Tommy pauses to consider what word
or tone to use in the following moments. Consider line 10 in which there is a verbal dys-
fluency before the word racially. This breakthrough signals Tommy as being somewhat
mindful of his expression and combined with the added emphasis on the word that fol-
lows, contributes to the meaning of use of the word. Tommy uses this strategy to signal
that not noticing racial dynamics or being colorblind is a bad practice that the caller must
gradually get his girlfriend to realize.
34 Discourse & Society 21(1)

The expert
We have already considered how Tommy positions himself as a friend and old soul to his
audience and the implications it has on the meaning of his advice. One of the other identities
that Tommy routinely invokes is that of the expert. When switching to this role, Tommy
signals a level of knowledge above that of the caller and listener. He shifts registers and posi-
tions himself as one worthy of attention and admiration for his knowledge of various aspects
of race and the Aryan Movement. Consider the following extract.

Extract 2

107 Tommy: Well I think your off a little bit there Eddy uh thatd be people
108 wanting and paying to get babies all over the white babies all over the place if they
109 could get a baby for a white baby a >healthy baby< for 4,000 dollars. BELIEVE me.
110 The uh white baby but in good health gets a LO:T more than that were talking in the
111 uh you know ten thousand twenty thousand twenty five thousand and up and uh so
112 thats the story there and thats why these girls have they dont want to have a baby
113 after they get pregnant and if >its gonna be a healthy< white baby theres no reason
114 in the world why they cant carry that baby to TER::M and then uh collect big time
115 and go off to college. You know. They pick of twenty >twenty five thirty five grand<
116 go to college and and uh get an education. So ABORTING them is bad business.

Here, Tommy is at first disagreeing with the caller as to the accuracy of his information in
line 107. However, notice that he is still fostering a form of solidarity by referring to the
caller by his first name: Eddy. Notice in line 109 the voicing of Tommys opinion on both
the race and amount paid for the baby. He uses a change of pace in which he slows down
on the race and dollar amount, but speeds up his rate of delivery on the healthy baby, sig-
naling that the race and amount paid are the more important aspects of meaning in his
opinion. In lines 10911, Tommy also enacts the identity of an expert by first calling into
question the callers figures, then giving the correct estimate for a value placed on a white
baby. He then proceeds to give a mini-story that serves as a lecture to the caller, in which
Tommy educates the audience on the process of surrogate motherhood. Notice though that
he not only educates the caller on surrogate motherhood in general, but specifically on
young girls who carry white babies to pay for college expenses. Notice the tone, emphasis
and pacing in line 113 when he slows down and changes pitch to emphasize the word
white. He concludes this section of talk by emphasizing the word aborting when stressing
that it is bad business. In his role as the expert, Tommy uses a much higher register to
indicate expertise. He also cites dollar amounts in support of his position and the value of
whiteness, while correcting the caller for undervaluing white babies in his estimate (lines
10912). Through his assertion of the value of whiteness, he begins to construct a sense
of power and privilege. In lines 110 and 113, Tommy adds special emphasis to the word
white to heighten his claims of white value. This shift in intonation indexes indirectly a
hegemonic identity from which Tommy sees the world. In this passage, he clearly demon-
Josey 35

strates that to be white is to be of more value. This, when taken with his earlier attempts
at building solidarity, begins to form what it means to be white for Tom Metzger and those
who would see him as a like mind. To them, to be white is to be in a position of elevation
and worth. Those who are of other sexual and racial groups (women and minorities) must
be of less value or educated as to the value of whiteness (lines 10910; 11216).

The insulter
The traditional notion of racist speech is that it is usually directly and overtly inflamma-
tory. The text under analysis does not have any direct traditional racial slurs; however,
Tommy does engage in epithets that index quite clearly his views on race and racial
groups. The third role that Tommy adopts throughout his show is that of the insulter. In
the following excerpt, Tommy again shifts register and positions himself as one who has
the authority to insult other hate groups and other people. Through this role of the insulter,
he begins to establish the good white identity.

Extract 3
76 Tommy: Well speakin of crooked PREACHERS. Theres one right THERE
77 Johnny Lee Cleary calling in on the phone line all thrilled cause I was cutting off one
78 line. Well hell I got lines all over the place. Ha ha ha. Im reaching more people on
79 in one twenty-four hour period than old Johnny Lee is reached in ten years.
80 Johnny Lees a uh he uh used to be a uh a professional WRESTLER. I dont know
81 how he did it cause he was a narrow at the shoulder and wide at the hip. And then he
82 joined up with David Dukes KLAN and uh he says he was Dukes BODYGUARD. Well
83 you know that was B: S. Uh maybe when Duke dame to town he walked around with
84 him but he was a bodyguard and then he left his wife and kid high and dry and uh he
85 uh lets see what was his next step. He went into uh uh used CAR sales. Uh eh before
86 he graduated in being a uh >crooked preacher<. And so an ((Mocking Tone))
87 evangelist and eh there for a little WHILE he worked with WA uh WAR and >Tom
88 Metzger< but but he was so damn lazy he didnt do anything. So after a few months
89 we dumped o:ld ((Mocking Tone)) Johnny Lee Cleary but anyhow, that was him in the
90 flesh hes still there in Tulsa Oklahoma with all the rest of those preachers. Bullshittin the
91 people and fleecing em down >fleecing em down fleecing em down<.

Tommy routinely invokes the identity of the insulter throughout this passage. Having
received a call from a former employee and fellow racist Johnny Lee Cleary, Tommy
responds by mocking Cleary throughout his response. Most obviously, in line 76, Tommy
calls Cleary a crooked preacher. In this line, he adds both volume and emphasis to
preachers, displaying his contempt for religion. He then positions himself as a more
effective racist than Cleary in lines 7880. He states that he reaches more people than
Johnny Lee ever could, a further insult coupled with Tommys reference to Cleary being
a professional wrestler (line 80).
Tommy then uses his tone and volume to position himself as a more effective racist
than the more traditionally known Klu Klux Klan in line 82. This is a theme that emerges
36 Discourse & Society 21(1)

repeatedly in his comments. He positions himself as both a true soldier, while insulting
both the Klan and especially Cleary. Tommy uses what Wortham calls epistemic modal-
ization in that he voices himself as uniquely knowledgeable of the truth of Clearys situa-
tion in lines 805. He frequently invokes insults about Cleary, calling him narrow at the
shoulder and wide at the hip. Again, in line 83, he directly questions Clearys claim to
authentic racist beliefs and practices by saying his story is a line of BS. In lines 867,
Tommy returns to a mocking tone and changes his pace, indicating that he has nothing but
contempt for Cleary, calling him a crooked preacher and an evangelist. These changes in
tone and pace indicate once again Tommys feelings about religion and also position him in
opposition to those ridiculous practices. In his role as the insulter, Tommy not only asserts
himself as owner of the only true form of the Aryan Movement, but also discredits those
who, in his view, are riding the coat tails of other more authentic groups (see lines 815). In
this role, he creates an identity of authenticity for himself and his movement. Using indirect
indexing, Tommy creates a marked area between him and other white racist groups. This
serves to not only position him within the larger white identity, but also within what he con-
siders to be a good white identity. In the role as an insulter, he draws clear lines between
himself and other whites, enacting an identity founded on a sense of authenticity.
Throughout these passages, Tommy indexes several identities that help to establish a
broader pattern of what it means to be a good white man. To be a good white man, you
must be a true soldier that recognizes his value and role in educating women and other
whites on how to be a good white. Tommy is communicating his version of what Ochs
calls language socialization (Ochs, 2000). Using register shifts to enact various identi-
ties, Tommy indexes what it means to be part of the larger valuable white identity and,
more specifically, what it means to be a good white. Though these strips of talk illus-
trate how Tommy views various levels of responsibility to socialize other whites into the
norms of the good, it most importantly demonstrates how racialized speech constitutes
a powerful locus for construction of both a micro identity and a larger ideology of white-
ness. This serves to both establish him and his listeners as members of a valuable white
majority and separate them from the wayward majority of whites. A discussion of the
implications of these findings will now be offered.

This analysis represents an important step in furthering the growing body of scholarly
literature on racialized discourse. The words of Downing echo true even more today,
given that hate groups have access to better and faster ways of disseminating their
message (Bargh and McKenna, 2004). This analysis has demonstrated that through
many voicing strategies, racist speech is not merely referential, as many believe. On
the contrary, Tommy employs a number of different strategies such as register shifts,
double voicing, footing changes and intonational breakthroughs to index a complex set
of beliefs. These indexed beliefs serve to position Tommy and his group in sharp con-
trast to folk beliefs or rhetoric that all too often marginalizes more overt racialized
speech out of scholarly discourse. As this analysis clearly demonstrates, it is not only
necessary to analyze more subtle forms of hate speech, but it is imperative that such
analysis is coupled with a greater attention to more traditional forms of hate-based
Josey 37

discourse. This is especially true given the relative lack of racial slurs and toned-down
references to persons of color observed in the current sample.
The data analyzed here has but a few references to explicit racial slurs. Other samples
could possibly yield more fascinating analyses that may demonstrate a shift in rhetorical
strategies by hate groups. Tommy uses a multitude of sophisticated strategies in a process of
othering groups and constructing a sense of whiteness. This reveals much about the complex
use of indexical meanings in more traditional hate speech. Through the process of indexical
marking, Tommy enacts important identities that establish him as a buddy, expert and
insulter to his audience. The footing he assumes in these different identities conveys much
meaning about the assumptions he has about his audience and the meaning of white identity.
Given the fact that was difficult to access without prior knowledge of the
site, it is reasonable to assume that he enjoys a form of kinship with most of his callers. This
kinship is enacted through solidarity-building talk that positions Tommy as both a friend and
wise old soul. Given the recent growth in internet usage as a means of social interaction,
programs such as these play a vital role in how any group, especially hate groups, recruit and
maintain their membership. Further, it serves the function of identity construction and man-
agement as demonstrated in the excerpts above. The importance of the two roles (e.g.
recruitment and identity management) such programs play for hate groups cannot be under-
stated and carry real implications for persons of color and society as a whole.
The internet in general represents one of the few safe spaces for extremely divergent
opinions on race, politics and society (Bargh and McKenna, 2004). As a decentralized
media, controlled by the end user, it has allowed a resurgence in the solidarity and power
building of hate-based groups (2004). It is common today for hate groups to use radio
programs such as The Terrible Tommy Show as a means to bridge geographically and
socially isolated individuals. These programs also serve as a means to recruit new mem-
bers. The subtle indexical strategies used by these groups as evidenced in the data above
are part of a larger movement in hate-based organizations to tone down their overtly racist
rhetoric in attempts to garner membership and support from disenfranchised whites
(Conant, 2009). The recent economic and social hardships endured globally have served as
a driver for many hate groups recruitment efforts (2009). This, coupled with the election
of the first African American US President, Barack Obama, has fueled a 54 percent increase
in the number of hate groups in the United States since 2000 (2009).
Increasingly, hate groups in the USA are adopting more subtle indexical strategies for
recruitment rather than what is traditionally associated with hate rhetoric (Conant, 2009).
A far cry from white hoods, swastikas and cross burning, these neo-traditional hate
groups such as the White Aryan Resistance (Metzgers group) are aiming at building
solidarity with the next-door neighbor and the soccer moms. Through programs such as
The Terrible Tommy Show, hate groups are relying on the internet as the first point of
contact. The lone wolf strategy advocated by Metzger is now being adopted by others, in
effect, encouraging individuals to act on their own rather than acting through larger hate-
based groups. Unfortunately, it appears to be having some success as the Southern
Poverty Law Center has detailed a more than 7 percent increase in racist groups in 2008
alone (2009). Clearly, the complex indexical strategies adopted by groups such as
Metzgers appear to have some traction. Within the first few days of President Obamas
election, some hate websites received so much traffic that they were literally overloaded,
38 Discourse & Society 21(1)

causing their servers to crash (2009). Thus, although many in the academy and society at
large may deem hate speech too vile to analyze at any length, there is a growing impetus
for scholars to analyze such speech, given the real political and social implications.

Directions for future research

This analysis is but a first step in the inquiry of how openly racist groups mark difference
in their rhetoric. The results yielded by this analysis add much to the growing body of
literature on race and racialized communication. It is now possible, due to the archive on, to study not only The Terrible Tommy Show, but also the numerous
other audio and video artifacts stored there. It is important to continue the efforts of this
analysis so that scholars do not ignore a significant portion of racialized speech. Further
research should seek to not only analyze more strips of data from this program, but also
the vast diversity of program archives on Particularly of interest would
be the themes and practices of marking difference across speakers, programs and hate
groups. Other analyses might focus on intertextual voicing and register change in con-
frontational settings. Of the many programs contained in this corpus from which this
sample was drawn, several had confrontational discourse that should be analyzed. Such
discourse would yield powerful insights into how hate groups discursively enact identity
and positionality in cross-race confrontational situations.

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Author biography
Christopher Josey is a graduate student in the Department of Communication at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His primary areas of interest involve the
portrayal of race in the media, racialized communication and the effects both have on
the individual. Chris is currently working on projects that involve racist discourse and
new media, the portrayal of race on internet news sites and the effects of ambiguous
racial portrayals on listeners of rap music.