The following corpora had a strong element of violence of a political and sexual nature.
Violence that was political in nature was associated with war and terror. The discussion featured strong accusations of violent action between different groups, specifically Jews and Muslims. The role of violent groups such as ISIS and Hezbollah (mainly) were also discussed in great detail, with varied opinions surrounding legitimacy, responsibility, funding, etc. It appears people adopted violent positions based on their perspectives. Islam was equated with violence in several ways—associating ISIS with Islam, claiming that it was a leading contributor to violent action and so on.
The data demonstrated a considerable amount of hate expressed between people of different faiths (Muslims vs. Christians), different sects with a common religion (Shia, Sunnis, and Alawis), different countries, and different beliefs. Users often assumed that another user’s lack of support for their claims translated into support for the enemies; thus resulting in a “with me or against me” scenario. This illustrates how most users in the Middle East view these challenges or lack of support for their beliefs as people “conspiring” against them.
Comments about the Israeli, Zionist Occupation, and Lebanese governments figured prominently in the corpora and were often referred to in a negative context.
When discussing terrorism, users labelled different groups as terrorists based on their point of view. For example, some users referred to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization like ISIS-the only difference being that Iran supports Hezbollah, whereas the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Wahhabis back ISIS. Others argued that Hezbollah resembles the Lebanese army as they both defend Lebanese land. Syrian refugees in Lebanon, homosexuals and sectarians were also often referred as terrorists. Additionally, various discussions mentioned The Lebanese civil war, The Lebanese war against Israel (July 2006), and the Syrian war as important reference points.
The other aspect of violence was sexual in nature. Rape and suicide as violent action were often directed toward women, the homosexual and transgender community. Rape was framed as a “punishment” for women whereas suicide was regarded as the only alternative for homosexuals and mostly linked to LGBTQ+ groups. They were assumed to be depressed or unhappy due to a lack of acceptance in Middle Eastern society. For example, some users suggested that LGBTQ+ members should just kill themselves and get it over with. “Suicide” also appeared in some discussions about the burdens of societal obligations.
It is worthy to note the violent nature of discourse in this context. While the YouTube-based corpus contained outright violent language, the Reddit corpus was more nuanced. Normally violent words such as “fuck,” “jerk,” “bastard” and “retard” were used as part of online banter and did not necessarily connote violent intentions. Even in the YouTube corpus, negative words such as “rape” and “terrorist” deviated from their original meanings. In contrast, “normal” and “polite words” were used passive aggressively to demean others in discussions.