Reading Hate
Hate Crime Research and Scholarship in Canada

Canadian Hate Crime Literature

Canadian Hate Crime Literature


Alphabetically by author's name



Barrett, Stanley R. (1987). Is God a Racist? The Right Wing in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Stanley Barrett, in his book Is God a Racist? The Right Wing in Canada, focuses on uncovering and better understanding white supremacism, anti-Semitism, and the right wing in general in Canada.  This is done through identifying patterns, converting raw data into abstractions, and studying the deeper levels of society.  A study was completed focusing on the Canadian right wing for the reason that such little research has been done.  There is data presented on more than one hundred right-wing organizations in Canada.  Many hate groups are discussed and compared including the Ku Klux Klan, the Western Guard, the Nationalist Party, the Canadian Nazi Party and the Edmund Burke Society.  These groups are of the most prominent hate groups promoting hate and racism throughout the western world nations.   James Keegstra’s case is discussed in two ways.  The first is regarding the good-man embracing a racist world view and the second is the significance of the Keegstra case.  Finally, institutional racism and the question of how a country based on tolerance and acceptance can have such racist and hateful groups is explained.  Ending the book with the question of why the right wing exists helps to summarize the previous chapter on institutional racism as well as all the important ideas surrounding racist groups in Canada. 

Bracken, H. M. (1994). Freedom of Speech: Words Are Not Deeds. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Harry M. Bracken discusses three subjects pertaining to free speech in his book, Freedom of Speech: Words Are Not Deeds.  Bracken focuses on a philosophical and historical interpretation of the free-speech principle, as well as the shift in American society from “freedom of speech” to “freedom of expression.”  Although the book has an American focus it does compare the United States and Canada in the third major topic of the book, the erosion of free-speech in the interest of group rights.  This comparison is evident in Chapter 5 of the book discussing hate literature.  There is a detailed explanation of the struggle that Canada has faced implementing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by explaining R v. Zundel as well as R v. Keegstra.  The courts have decided that the values of a free and democratic society guarantee rights to the citizens of Canada and in certain situations can justify the limitations on those rights.  There is a discussion regarding Canada being officially a bilingual society which bases laws on multiculturalism, therefore it is important to protect the minority.  Pornography is discussed as an area of the law which the free-speech principle creates difficulties in both countries.  Chapter five of the novel is especially useful in comparing the two major North American countries and their hate crime history and legislation.

Braun, S. (2004). Democracy off balance: Freedom of expression and hate propaganda law in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

In this book, Stefan Braun presents an analysis of hate censorship as a paradox of modern democratic discourse. The author systematically creates a multifaceted case for rethinking hate censorship which consists of intersecting arguments that emphasize an overarching theme: “as a feature of ordinary democratic discourse, the right to silence hate is theoretically deficient and functionally flawed” (p. 9). He argues against the supposed public interest served by hate speech laws and examines the complex forces – the politically self-contradictory thinking and the socially self-defeating assumptions - that impel censorship in Canada. Braun states that hate censorship does not and cannot promote tolerance, equality, and harmony, fight ignorance and prejudice, and protect and promote democracy as progressive hate censors expect it to. The author uses censors’ own terms of social and political reference to demonstrate how hate censorship actually undermines their causes. In addition, he illustrates how hate speech law oversteps its legal boundaries and conditions and corrodes public discourse.

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Cohen, M. (1966). Report to the Minister of Justice of the Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada. Ottawa: Queen's Printer.

Through meetings, discussions, gathering information, and special technical studies, a report was prepared by a Special Committee on ‘hate propaganda’ in Canada.  The report opens with a background on hate propaganda within the country.  It discusses the major themes and people who are targeted by hate propaganda including, the Jewish and black communities, as well as other visible minority groups.  These groups have been targeted by right wing groups such as the National Socialist Movement, and the National White Americans Party.  The next section of the report discusses the social-psychological effects of hate propaganda.  A dangerous problem exists in Canada.  The damage from hate propaganda is not necessarily reflected in the amount that is produced, many people are susceptible, the materials circling around the country are very hurtful to many.  The role of law and education is important to combat hate crime and limit the damage that is occurring.  The condition of the law against hate in Canada and elsewhere is the next topic of the report.  The report states a number of issues, a serious problem was that there were inadequate legal remedies to combat hate propaganda and protect those affected.  The affected groups listed in the report were those who are distinguished by religion, colour, race, language, ethic or national origin.  The final section concludes with recommendations made to combat hate propaganda.  These recommendations included new legislation and amendments. It must be noted that this report was published in 1966.  Since the publication there has been new legislation and amendments made, one major one being to the Constitution of Canada, adding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Cohen, T. (1988). Race Relations and the Law. Willowdale, ON: Canadian Jewish Congress.

Although this literature was published in 1988, Race Relations and the Law does provide useful information regarding hate crime.  The use of law is described in two ways.  One way is to oppress, the other is to further justice.  Although the law does protect people against discrimination and promotes equality, it can be used to legitimize racism in Canada.  There are examples of laws that have been used against a particular group in Canada, including, the Chinese Immigration Act, the Chinese Regulation Act of 1884, and the “continuous passage” law of 1914.  This restricted immigration from countries where people could not travel to Canada on a continuous trip, without making any stops before arriving in Canada.  There are a number of different definitions pertaining to hate in Canada which are all described in the book.  The definitions include; racism, prejudice, discrimination, race, ethnicity, visible minority, and multiculturalism.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is described as an international document which has affected Canada through policy and other means.  There are sections on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Human rights in relation to discrimination, immigration, education, harassment, the criminal justice system, and the directions of human rights law.  The most important section in regards to hate crime is the section which focuses on hate and racist expressions.  This section describes the types of racial expressions, criminal law in relation to hate, legal protections against propaganda, extremist groups, and different types of protection offered under the law.  It is explained that the law should not be the only source to combat hate and discrimination, though it is a very useful tool for many people who have encountered hate. 

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Davies, A. (1992). Antisemitism in Canada: History and Interpretation. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press.

Antisemitism is discussed in detail and through many different subjects in the book Antisemitism in Canada: History and Interpretation, each important to the history of discrimination in Canada.  The book is a collection of many pieces of literature regarding antisemitism in Canada.  The introduction is written by Davies and discusses the long, complex history of antisemitism.  Since WWII the views on antisemitism in Canada have changed, prior to 1945 the focus was perceived to be a Jewish problem, after the war it became more public with much more awareness.    Each piece addresses antisemitism in its own way from the colonial period to the twentieth century.  The discussion in the book covers topics on antisemitism regarding pre-confederation, World War One, Goldwin Smith, policies in Canada, definitional issues regarding antisemitism, the media, antisemitism in Ontario and Quebec, Keegstra, Zundel, Nazism, and the Jewish Ukrainian Relations in Canada since WWII. 

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Greenspan, L. & Levitt, C. (1993). Under the Shadow of Weimar: Democracy, Law, and Racial Incitement in Six Countries. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Greenspan and Levitt have created a book of essays questioning whether a country should defend itself against racism and hate campaigning by passing laws which limit freedom of speech.  There are a number of democratic countries struggling with this issue, in legislatures, courts, and the press.  The essays in the book describe what countries have accomplished in the fight against hate crime and racism.  The countries described in detail in the book, along with Canada are France, England, Germany, Israel, and the United States of America.  Canada’s response to hate is explained in chapter 7 of the book.  It discusses major cases in Canada’s past (R v. Keegstra and R. v. Zundel) and the legislation that has been created to combat hate crime.  Chapter 7 also explains the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the entrenchment of Canadians freedom of expression. 

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Hall, P. W. & Hwang, V. M. (2001). Anti-Asian Violence in North America: Asian American and Asian Canadian Reflections on Hate, Healing, and Resistance. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Anti-Asian Violence in North America: Asian American and Asian Canadian Reflections on Hate, Healing, and Resistance takes a social, psychological, and historical perspective on hate, specifically hate against Asian people.  The book consists of a number of essays bringing together the voices of Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians from many different backgrounds.  In the introduction it describes the authors of the essays as attorneys, teachers, activists, graduate students, and professionals.  The topics of the essays include immigration, violence, gender, civil rights, identity, Internet violence, the role of the victim, and community resistance.  There are a number of essays which are from an American perspective on hate crime however there are essays and information focusing on Canada and anti-Asian hate crime.  One example is Terry Watada’s essay on the connections between individual and social racism.  Anti-Asian Violence in North America: Asian American and Asian Canadian Reflections on Hate, Healing, and Resistance allows for a specific focus on anti-Asian hate crime from all different perspectives across North America.

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Kelner, Greg. 1983. Homophobic Assault: A Study of Anti-Gay Violence. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Gays for Equality.

Kelner wrote this report in response to the concern that violence that is directed towards gay people is serious and widespread and is not receiving the right amount of attention.  As gay people demand fair treatment under the law and live their lives openly, there are changes in law, perception and individual behaviour that are required from the majority.  This is not occurring.  The purpose of the study is to approach the issue of anti-gay violence by discussing homophobia.  There is a notion that homosexuality is feared as widespread in society.  This is acknowledged through a discussion of the history of homophobia and attitudes among both heterosexuals and homosexuals.  The study moves on to discuss an explanation of the methodological problems which were found in the data, using cases of anti-gay violence in Winnipeg.  The next two sections provide an explanation on the levels of awareness that two major groups in Winnipeg have; the Winnipeg City Police, who are looked to for protection, and the representatives of hospitals and social service, who encounter the victims of anti-gay violence.  It is important to be known from this study that the issue of violence against gay people extends beyond the direct physical attack.  The report concludes with recommendations for Winnipeg police and organizations, social service agencies and hospitals.

Kinsella, W. (1994). Web of Hate: Inside Canada's Far Right Network. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers.

Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network is a book concerned with the most extreme elements of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.  These are people who use violence and non-democratic means against the recognized order.  Kinsella introduces the reader to many members of Canada’s neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.  The people who are discussed include David Duke (the founder and leader of Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), Terry Long (Aryan Nations Leader), Alain Roy (Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), Wolfgang Droege (Heritage Front), Malcolm Ross (writer, denier of Holocaust), as well as Matt McKay (soldier).  A number of others are discussed as well.  Doug Christie is referred to as the "counsel for the damned."  He represented those who were charged with hate crimes, such as James Keegstra.  The hate groups introduced include the Ku Klux Klan and its first major appearance in Canada with the burning of St Boniface College in Winnipeg, the Aryan Resistance Movement (ARM), and the Canadian Liberty Net.  The Canadian Liberty Net had a phone service which a person could dial 88 to be brought to a menu.  This is where hate supporters would listen and voice their opinions.  The number 88 was not a random number.  The letter ‘H’ is the 8th letter of the alphabet, therefore 88 represents HH, which represents Heil Hitler.  Kinsella is able to explain the workings of hate groups and the beliefs of their members in Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network.  A great number of groups and people are discussed who have influenced Canada’s far right’s past and present. 

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Loader, B. (1997). The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global
Restructuring. New York: Routledge.

The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global Restructuring consists of a number of essays which are divided into three sections; the first critically examines the nature of cyberspace.  The second goes on to consider how cyberspace may be affecting territories, organizations, and policy processes of traditional nations.  The third section is essays which focus on the exploration of policing strategies for cyberspace.   The third section contains an important essay discussing the far right groups on the Internet, written by Michael Whine.  It describes the neo-Nazi groups who use the Internet to spread their hate material.  The Internet offers them a way to avoid sanctions which may make their racist propaganda illegal in most countries.  They have access to an impressionable young audience who have skills in technology and communications which make them potential leaders of the next generation.  The Internet also allows each hate group to have access to each other’s ideas and resources while spreading hate propaganda.  Whine writes that the neo-Nazi groups use the advances in communication and technology to promote hate through emails, web pages, articles, and racial computer games.  The legal remedies to combating hate on the Internet are the final topic discussed.  Whine believes an examination of domestic legislation is necessary, there no case law in international law however the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibit the encouragement of race hatred. 

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Matas, D. (2000). Bloody words: Hate and free speech. Winnipeg: Bain & Cox Publishers.

In this book, leading human rights lawyer David Matas engages the contemporary debate against hate speech, the practicalities of legislation, and its impact on free speech in modern society using recent examples, including Rwanda, Bosnia, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. The author argues that the modern struggle for human rights in a democratic arena creates new boundaries, where issues of free speech, freedom of religion, the media, the internet, and academic liberty include the potential for misuse by both radical extremes and those in power. Although many throughout the world pledged “never again” in response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, making it happen has proved to be difficult. The author notes that “since World War II, genocide has happened again and again, not to Jews, but to Cambodians, to Hutus, to Tutsis, to Bosnians, to Somalis, and one could go on” (p. 9). He states that the Holocaust would not have happened had an effective universal system been in place to prosecute, convict, and punish mass murderers; if refugees had been offered protection; if hate speech was banned; and if people had not remained silent in the face of gross violations of human rights. Acting on these lessons in order to promote human rights, Matas has encountered four enemies: indifference, hypocrisy, helplessness, and absolutism. Of these enemies, absolutism, “the belief that one human right, the right to freedom of expression, trumps all others,” has proven to be the most difficult to combat (p. 11). The author states that the need to ban hate speech has been the hardest lesson to learn from the Holocaust and thus devotes his entire book to arguing against free speech absolutism. Drawing on many Canadian examples, the book covers such topics as the harm of hate speech, the myopia and inaction in response to hate speech, the boundaries of hate speech, Holocaust denial as hate speech, the Zundel prosecution, hate laws in the German Weimar Republic, hate speech on the internet, and truth as a defence to the offence of propagating hate. Matas concludes by arguing that the right to be free from incitement to hatred is as much a human right as any other. For human dignity and worth to be respected, this right must be respected and valued as much as any other right.

Mertl, S. & Ward, J. (1985). Keegstra: The Issues, the Trial, the Consequences. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books.

This book does not portray James Keegstra as a bigot who passed hate to hundreds of students but of a man who would be found if a person met James Keegstra face to face.  The authors state that this is not an apology or acceptance of what Keegstra did, however it is a warning, that by stereotyping Keegstra or others who are like him may result in the belief that it is easy to pick out Keegstras in society.  This is not the case, Keegstra went unnoticed for many years.  Mertl and Ward go into detail on the life of James Keegstra outlining not only his crimes but his life in the small town of Eckville.  The book ranges from discussing World War II and its treatment of the Jews to Keegstra’s trial and opinions on the result of that trial.  Detail is discussed regarding his students and his teachings, he taught not from history textbooks provided by the school but from his own records and literature on history.  The trial of James Keegstra was the longest chapter of the book, outlining his lawyers, his testimony, and the legal charges that he was accused of. 

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Peters, C. (2004). Hate expectations: A narrative of the conceptualisation of criminal hatred in Canada. Master of Arts, Ottawa: Carleton University.

In his masters thesis at Carleton University, Peters contends that the idea of hate crime did not appear in the 1980s as commonly believed, but rather in the 1960s when the debate on hate propaganda surfaced. Peters argues that the hate propaganda laws established in the early 1970s signified a crucial moment in “legislating out” discrimination. Before this time, legislation focused on governmental discrimination, but this new legislation allowed the government to intervene in the free expression of citizens where it was deemed to be hateful. Hate propaganda legislation propelled other legislation which protected against hate speech and crime. Peters uses both the actor-network theory and the narrative method to analyze how the concept of criminal hatred has been embraced in Canada through the mobilization of allies in legislation. The actor-network theory ANT and narrative helps one understand the relationships that need to be in place for the new concept of hate propaganda to emerge while a narrative constructs the types of descriptions that illustrate connections and transformations in legislation. Peters claims that it was this network of legislation that linked the idea of hate to criminality. In the first chapter, Peters describes the common understanding of hate as an action rather than speech. In the second chapter, he describes ACT theory which leads into the next chapter with focuses on his methodology including his narrative of the sequence of events. The fourth chapter describes the legal history of hate in Canada. The fifth and sixth chapters focus on the influential internation networks that acted as the foundation for Canadian Legislation (UN declarations) and the distinctness of hate propaganda legislation as a group offence and its important ties to discrimination.

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Ristock, Janice. 2002. No More Secrets: Violence in Lesbian Relationships. New York, London; Routledege.

Ristock’s book, No More Secrets: Violence in Lesbian Relationships, is divided into four main sections.  The first is an introduction which begins by explaining the emergence in society of lesbian partner abuse.  Through this section there are topics on the lack of secrecy surrounding lesbian violence, violence in a male dominated society, feminism and its role, what is known about abuse in a lesbian relationship, and theories as to why it occurs.  There is also a discussion on the approach which Ristock has taken to research and understand lesbian partner abuse.  The second section of this book is entitled “A Material Tale: Telling Stories.”  This section discusses the body’s role in violence and secrecy of lesbian partner abuse.  Various discourses of abuse, gender, and sexuality and their affect on the ways violence is represented, understood, and experienced are examined.  There is a focus in on material aspects, how it is experienced and recollected as well as the response to violence.  The next section of the book is titled “A Discursive Tale: Exposing Language.”   This section examines the “struggles with categories and concepts to expose who and what are included and excluded by the assumptions” (pg. 111) which are rooted in society’s discourses.  The final section is called. “A Reflexive Tale: Raising Questions.”  This section is focusing on the future, what can be done, who can help, and what to do if a person finds themselves in an abusive situation.      

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Sher, J. (1983). White hoods: Canada’s Ku Klux Klan. Vancouver: New Star Books.

In this book, Julian Sher details the history of the Ku Klux Klan in Canada, and the movement which sprang in opposition to it. The author notes that although the modern Ku Klux Klan has never attained any strength, in both numbers and influence, comparable to its American counterpart, it has been bringing its message of hate to Canadians since the 1920s and thus cannot be ignored. The importance of studying this political phenomenon is located in the information such a study can provide about the social system within which the KKK can flourish. Sher argues that from the 1920s to the 1980s, governments at all levels have refused to seriously confront the Klan’s racism in a systematic fashion, often invoking narrow interpretations of the law to support this avoidance. She notes that countering racism has never been a high priority for Canada’s political leaders. When governments do act against racism, it is with a goal of appearing to do something rather than actually solving the problem. The author argues that law enforcement agencies are equally unwilling to act, never bringing the full force of the law down on the Klan. Sher locates the strongest counteraction to the KKK in loosely-based anti-racism movements made up of ordinary Canadians which have gained strength in more recent decades with the evolution of public attitudes to overt racism in the aftermath of World War II and recent calls for right recognition from various minority groups. The author argues that the anti-Klan movement “may have won a battle, but not the war,” as remnants of the Klan and groups of a similar mindset still exist and social conditions that allow for their resurgence, particularly economic recessions, are more present than ever. She concludes by comparing the KKK to a visible scar that is only trace of a much deeper sore that runs deep in Canadian society, while noting that any fight against the KKK and other likeminded organized groups must be part of a larger effort to change an entire system filled with prejudices, inequalities and injustices.

Sumner, L. W. (2004). The Hateful and the Obscene: Studies in the Limits of Free Expression. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

In this book, Sumner explores the collision of the Constitutional right to freedom of expression and criminal hate as classified by the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Sumner discusses the blurred limits of freedom of expression and lobbies for the creation of the theory of free expression which outlines a “coherent set of principles capable of answering the most important, conceptual, moral, and political questions about expressive freedom and its limits (p. 3).” The book strives to develop this theoretical framework and to apply it to the hate speech (as well as pornography). The focus of the book is freedom of expression, rather than hate crime, but Sumner provides an interesting analysis of the intersection of free expression and hate crime using Mill’s Harm Principle. Sumner explores the deep seated impact of hate propaganda and hate speech on its victims and the wider community. This propaganda is often designed to recruit followers and contributes to the legitimization of violence against identifiable groups. But according to the Harm Principle, this harm is not necessarily enough to validate policy which prevents freedom of expression. Sumner concludes by making two recommendations specific to the regulation of free speech. He suggests there be no further content restrictions in criminal or human rights legislation that prohibits expressive material which incites hate. Finally, he also advocates for the use of context restrictions such as an expanded criminal prohibition of expressive materials inciting hate violence.

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Weimann, G. & Winn, C. (1986). Hate in Trial: The Zundel Affair, the Media and Public Opinion in Canada. Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press.

Weimann and Winn discuss Ernst Zundel and the many different aspects of his trial.  They begin with the background of Zundel, where he came from, what he did, the basics of his life.  Zundel denied the Holocaust and believed in anti-zionism and Nazism.  The book describes anti-Semitism as being a relatively recent term, created to give new strength to old-fashioned animosity towards Jews.  The trial is discussed in detail, the authors discuss Zundel’s crimes and what he was charged with.  The spotlight of the trial was on Zundel’s testimony, comments made to the press, and on his entrances and exists from the court room.  There were many who were concerned with the public opinion after the trial, fearing it may increase hatred towards the Jewish.  One reason is because the media had such a strong presence surrounding the trial. Weimann and Winn completed a study to test the public opinion.  They created a national survey and found that half of Canadians were aware of the trial.  There was also a possibility that the trial did not affect the public in the way it was feared to.  The majority of Canadians were found to have become more sympathetic towards Jews rather than less sympathetic.  There is also a discussion of other hate-related trials, such as the trial against James Keegstra.  

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Zickmund, S. (1997). Approaching the radical other: The discursive culture of cyberhate. In Steven G. Jones Virtual culture: Identity and communication in cybersociety, (pp. 185-205). London, England: Sage Publications.

Steven Jones has edited and compiled essays focusing on the consequences of the development and implementation of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and the Internet.  Each author has come up with a variety of perspectives, using theoretical work in sociology, political science, economics, communication, feminism, and history.  Jones states that the consequences affect all people in society.  Susan Zickmund’s article discusses cyberhate and its allowance for cohesiveness of subversive organizations.  People who have Nazi ideologies traditionally operated in isolation, the Internet has changed this.  Zickmund’s focus is on the portrayal of the subversive culture that exists on the Internet and the relationship between radicals, society and the Other.  Zickmund defines what has been termed as “The Other” in society.  The Other is a figure constructed to be of service to the white male group, they do not have a voice, an opinion, and must remain mute unless spoken to.  The Other is broken up into two categories, as a social contaminant and as a conspirator.  Examples of people who have or continue to be the Other as a social contaminant are the black community and gay and lesbian community.   An example of people who are the Other as a conspirator are the Jewish community.  In this view the Jews have an image as a dominant conspiring agent, seen as very powerful.  The final topic discussed in Zickmund’s essay is the interactive relationships in cyberspace.  The Internet provides ways to reach new recruits, contact other radicals, and allow for non-racist people to contact the radicals.  Zickmund uses quotes from Internet sites to discuss the communication which occurs between people on these hate sites. 

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