The Internet Rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan: A Case Study in Web Site Community Building Run Amok

Many scholars have praised the Internet as a locale where positive community building takes place. Conversely,this study examines 23 KKK web sites as an exemplar of how groups may engage in community building of a most egregious sort. Through appeals to white masculinity and, on some web sites, segmented appeals to women and to youth and children, Klan web sites attempt to create community that is unified by its opposition to minority groups, particularly Jews. The angry style of Klan discourse, which is compatible with the rhetorical conventions of the Web, discourages dissenting points of view while inflaming potential supporters. Moreover,Klan rhetoric on the Web encourages odious political activity, including acts of violence, at the same time that Klan web sites disavow responsibility for the consequences of their messages.

Tags: Extreme Right, Forums, Gender, Hate Speech, Youth