Chattanooga Officials Are on the Prowl for Anyone who Commits Hate Speech


Chattanooga officials are clamping down on hate speech through a program called Hatebase, but they will not specify what is and is not hate speech.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press defines Hatebase as “an early warning system that helps identify situations of concern” to stop mass violence before it begins.

But how do city officials define hate speech?

The Tennessee Star posed that question to the office of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke in an email Friday.

City spokesman Kerry Hayes responded with this:

“City staff do not define hate speech, as that is not the purpose of the Mayor’s Council Against Hate or the Hatebase tool,” Hayes said.

Hayes also said no city funds or taxpayer dollars pay for the city’s use of Hatebase.

But what happens to people government officials deem are guilty of hate speech?

“We believe that anyone who commits a hate crime should be appropriately charged and adjudicated,” Hayes said without specifying what, precisely, happens to people who commit hate speech — not hate crimes.

As The Times Free Press reported, the city has a Council Against Hate website where “residents can submit sightings or incidents of hate speech they experience or witness. The city pulls this data nightly from Hatebase and adds it to a dataset used to monitor hate speech in the community.”

“The City of Chattanooga is one of the first local governments that Hatebase has partnered with in the U.S.,” the paper reported.

“Hatebase originated from the Sentinel Project, an international nonprofit based out of Toronto that works to prevent genocide and mass atrocities through engagement and cooperation with victimized populations across the globe.”

According to, “Hatebase has gathered a growing list of over 3,600 terms considered to be hate speech.”

Tennessee has at least one other similar program.

As The Star reported last month,  Williamson County School System officials can, if they choose, monitor students’ online activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and punish students if they say something unsuitable.

School administrators are the ones who decide what is and isn’t unsuitable. As of this year, school system officials do this through a program called Gaggle.

School system officials set up the program to help with student safety issues. WCS spokesman Cory Mason said Gaggle monitors student accounts “for inappropriate or concerning words and images that have been placed on the WCS server.”

“Some of the things it looks for include references to drug and alcohol use, self-harm, threats, etc.; the same student behaviors school administrators have addressed for years,” Mason said in an email.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Chattanooga Municipal Building” by Andrew Jameson. CC BY-SA 3.0.





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23 Thoughts to “Chattanooga Officials Are on the Prowl for Anyone who Commits Hate Speech”

  1. Coleman

    Hate speech is anything pro-white, pro-Christian, pro-life.

    And isn’t Mayor Burke Jewish?

  2. Van Livingston

    Let’s see, we are going to partner with a foreign “international” company to tell we the people what we can and can’t say. Makes a lot of sense for communists. And schools regulating what students can say 24/7 is insane.

  3. nillafreak

    This is repugnant.

    a) The FBI (which we all know is incompetent and corrupt) monitors for actual signs of any sort of extremism, why is a local city doing this?
    b) ‘hate’ speech is protected speech under the First Amendment
    c) A few appointed officials dictating what is offensive? Scary times. This is not Nazi Germany
    d) ANY attempt at suppressing people’s thoughts only makes things boil worse

    Chattanooga…lol…high crime rate, low income. Let me guess you have democrats running the city? Year over year, crime rates increasing.

    Also, a crime against a person is a crime; these ‘hate crime laws’ create classes of people who are no better than any other human being and are enforced in a discriminatory manner. I pray for lawsuits on end.

    The Chattanooga TN crime rate for 2017 was 1065.72 per 100,000 population, a 4.17% increase from 2016. The Chattanooga TN crime rate for 2016 was 1023.05 per 100,000 population, a 3.41% increase from 2015. The Chattanooga TN crime rate for 2015 was 989.32 per 100,000 population, a 1.58% increase from 2014.

  4. Scott

    You need to vote these terrorists out of office as soon as possible. They are literally compiling a list for future government antagonism against political opponents. Nothing more, nothing less. This is something that simply can NOT be allowed to spread further in our Republic.

  5. Steven Burns

    Communists and those that ignore the constitution so they can rule over the people should be shot in the face, thrown in a ditch, and set on fire. Does this qualify as hate speech?

    1. Laserbolt

      Actually…..that qualifies as truth. And it needs to be done.

  6. Ed Smith

    If Chattanooga and taxpayer’s dollars is not paying for this Canadian based “Hatebase,” then who is paying for it? Lemme guess. Soros.

  7. […] City spokesman Kerry Hayes responded with this:MORE […]

  8. Mark Shetterly

    One man’s hate speech is another man’s truth. I guess the powers that be in Chattanooga forgot about the First Amendment. This is ripe for some good old-fashioned trolling.

  9. Bob

    I’m a minority; close the borders; send back illegals & muslims to their countries of origin. Have fun with that. The little Commies can all have fun trying to capture all 64 million of us. Fake News

  10. Excerpt from Iraq penal code against hate speech.

    Paragraph 434 – Insult is the imputation to another of something dishonourable or disrespectful or the hurting of his feelings even though it does not include an imputation to him of a particular matter. Any person who insults another is punishable by a period of detention not exceeding 1 year plus a fine not exceeding 100 dinars or by one of those penalties. If such insult Is published in a newspaper or publication or medium it is considered an aggravating circumstance.

    1. David Downing

      We are not in Iraq this is amendment free speech.

  11. 1984 was never intended to be an instruction manual

  12. An American

    So, every democrat can be reported to this website for hatred toward President Trump?

    Asking for a friend

  13. Unclezip

    Non-specificity is the ultimate control over the proles. 2+2 = 5, or it’s hate speech.

  14. Scratcheshispointedhead

    How long before a Hatebase hit can be used by the socialists as the basis for action under a Red Flag Law?

  15. Harold

    Funny how they think that they’re going to stop People from thinking how they’re gonna say things just to p/o the hate speech police just to get a pursuit in action from them ( kinda like a real high speed pursuit from the real police LOL ) I think they will get a gullet full from the People of Chattanooga real soon. Ah gotta Love the Canadians though because they’re the one’s making the money off of the stupid asinine Town Leaders.

  16. juspassinthru

    YGBSM! Now we have speech/language police? What’s next…. “thought police” or maybe “dream police”.

    Hatebase is a software platform built to help organizations and online communities detect and monitor hate speech. Their algorithms analyze “public conversations” using a broad vocabulary based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and class, with data across 90+ languages and 175+ countries.

    Do we really want a foreign organization (Hatebase is a Canadian Company) invading our every day communications? I don’t think so. We already have the U.S. Government monitoring our communications. Get a grip Chattanooga officials.

  17. Dean from Knoxville

    O.K. lets put this to the test . . . I hate Kerry Hayes’ bone-headed idea that he is trying to sell . . . and I hate Chattanooga for coming up with this Orwellian nightmare solution to a nonexistent problem. Now, go ahead and charge me for my two hate crimes and lets see what the courts say about your silly ‘law.’

  18. 83ragtop50

    A liberal social cause looking for a problem. Mind control via speech control is a very dangerous path.

  19. Steve Allen

    Bad idea, and a potential First Amendment violation. It’s like Red Flag Laws. There is the potential for a rather broad interpretation of when speech is considered hate. The Liberal Leftists (more specifically in Hollywood and the MSM) get away with it all the time. And then there is the double standard practiced by Facebook and so many other social media platforms.

    1. Lee Russom

      The fact the courts have allowed this obviously unConstitutional law to prevail proves for an absolute certainty the judges have been legislating from the bench. Anybody/everybody should be able to call anybody/everybody any and all names they wish. It should be up to the individuals to handle the matter.