chapter  3
Hate Speech and the Power of Words
Pages 24

What's in a word? Is it, as Althusser suggests, the prize in the class struggle? This claim assumes a struggle and a human subject that exist prior to words. Or, is it, as Butler argues, that we need words in order to be? In that case, the human subject is an effect, not author, of words. At any rate, why fight over words? Foucault proposes in the "Discourse on Language" that the anxiety over language represents "uncertainty at the suggestion of barely imaginable powers and dangers behind this activity, however humdrum and grey it may seem; uncertainty when we suspect the conflicts, triumphs, injuries, dominations and enslavements that lie behind these words, even when long use has chipped away their rough edges."l Is that it? Are we anxious about the "powers and dangers" of words?