Kanye West Controversial Again: Hate Speech Disguised as Free Speech

Kanye West's expressions put him, for many, on the side of hate speech. This is why several brands have ended relationships with the celebrity.

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LatinAmerican Post | David Rivadeneira Soto

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Leer en español: Kanye West, polémico otra vez: discurso de odio disfrazado de libre expresión

Kanye West, the rapper born in Atlanta, Georgia, has been as successful as he is controversial during his public life. Now he seems to be back in the middle of a storm caused by himself, as usual, for his statements branded as hate speech. But what is behind this; Is it intentional, is it free expression or the product of a strident personality? The music producer, who now wants to be called Ye, is in the eye of the hurricane due to various events and statements that have caused him to become subject to tensions with various social sectors. Also, he breaks relations with brands such as Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga with he has commercial and advertising links.

The facts surrounding this new scandal, for which it is in the mouth of the public and the media, have been widely commented on by now, but by way of contextualization a brief recount can be made. In the first place, his presence at Paris Fashion Week was marked by wearing a T-shirt with a notice that read "White Lives Matter", in clear allusion to "Black Lives Matter". Matter”. This fact was interpreted as an incitement to hatred by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in addition to receiving harsh criticism on social networks.

Then, on a podcast called "Drink Champs," he smugly said he might express anti-Semitic comments and Adidas wouldn't let him, and further suggested that George Floyd's death was caused by an overdose. The next thing would be the publication of a tweet in which he launched a message that many would interpret as clearly threatening against the Jewish population, which he would later delete and for which he would apologize, but stating that he did not regret having commented on it.

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Controversial Personality

Beyond his controversial outbursts, of which he has a long list behind, West has a complicated personality. The award-winning music producer, singer, and fashion designer has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for more than three years. At the time, Kim Kardashian asked for respect and consideration for her condition, although after her divorce with him in 2021 they have had some confrontations and friction aired on social networks. The journalist Noelia Ramírez, in an analysis published by the newspaper El País, reviews the obsession with which Ye controls the clothing and appearance of his girlfriends, converting them to the "aesthetic imaginary and aspirational halo" that he wants to project to the society. The foregoing can be taken as a sample of the impositions of his complex personality in relationships.

The constant false starts in the artist's comments, whether in media or social networks, show part of a narcissistic and strident personality: comparing himself to Jesus, believing that he is a divine being, saying that only in a mirror does he sit in front of a winner . Features that can also be seen in the documentary "Jeen Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy", released on Netflix in February. It was made at the initiative of Ye himself, who convinced his friends Clarence 'Coddie' Simmons and Chike Ozah more than 20 years ago to start following his progress in the music industry on video and record his rise to fame.

Hate Speech Versus Free Expression

According to an analysis of the multifaceted artist by a psychologist on her YouTube channel, Chatting with Nadia, Kanye West's personality may have roots in various aspects of his childhood life. For example, the absence of a father figure, the separation from his parents at the early age of three, which could generate insecurities and fear, and also the fact of having to go to another country to live during a period of his childhood, specifically one with such a marked cultural change as China. These situations, says the professional, can make a dent in how people's way of being is shaped.

Although for some people on social networks these scandals are part of strategies to generate visibility, it cannot be denied that all these traits together with his bipolar disorder, for which he does not use medication, come together to make an explosive cocktail that affects directly in their expressions and in their relationships with others. Freedom of expression should not be confused with hate speech and mental health cannot be taken lightly, as a simple eccentricity, but only he and those closest to him know for sure what is the reality of his behavior and his statements. 

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