How often do social-media users in Colorado feature hate speech in their tweets? The Geography of Hate, overseen by Humboldt State University's Dr. Monica Stephens, puts the answer in graphic terms via heat maps that show the best and worst areas of the country when it comes to tweets sporting degrading terms about sexual preferences, race and disabilities. As you'll see by the series of maps below, Colorado is far from the worst state in the U.S. when it comes to hate tweets, but there are still some concerning flare-ups, particularly when it comes to the N-word.
According to the folks behind the project, the maps are "based on every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012-April 2013 containing one of the 'hate words'" -- more than 150,000 in all -- and then weighted against the total Twitter traffic in each specific county. Areas with a higher proportion of hate tweets are designated by red, with those where such tweets are less frequent are marked by various shades of blue, as seen in this graphic.
As you'll see, the reddest areas are generally in the Midwest and East, with assorted hot spots in Western areas.
Here's the overall map for "homophobia"....
...and this is the image for "racism." As you can see, there's significant areas of darker blue in Colorado on both maps.
Here are two images focusing on the state. First, Colorado's overall homophobia score....
...and the state's racism tally: What words led to the blue areas in Colorado? The Geography of Hate breaks things down by four homophobic words -- "dyke," "fag," "homo" and "queer" -- and five racist words: "chink," "gook," "nigger," "wetback" and "spick."
Here's how Colorado scored on each word, with a differentiation made for "negative" tweets -- presumably to factor out messages in which the words are used in ways that are meant to be congenial rather than hurtful.
Continue for more heat maps showing Colorado's score for hate tweets. First, we'll break down homophobic tweets. This map shows how the state fared in terms of negative tweets using the term "dyke."
Not much blue on that one. But there's more for negative tweets using the word "fag" -- albeit not a lot near Denver: The amount of blue in Colorado for negative tweets using the word "homo" is fairly modest, too. But there are major hot spots just beyond state lines: And disturbingly, there's a lot more blue marking negative tweets using "queer," particularly in some mountain areas of central Colorado: These patterns show up in Colorado tweets deemed racist, as well.
Continue to see more maps showing Colorado's score for hate tweets. Negative tweets from Colorado using the word "chink" are relatively scarce, but there are more of them in northern New Mexico:
There's a power-blue spot on the Colorado map for negative tweets using "gook," however. For "nigger," though, there's a lot of dark blue in Colorado, with a big swatch over Denver and some noticeable red in southern Wyoming: Again, the tweets that show up on the heat map are said to have be negative in character, not ones where the word is used as a term of endearment or friendship. Hence, the mediocre-or-worse score on use of the word "nigger" is especially dispiriting.
The state scored better in relation to negative tweets using "wetback."
And the results are even better for negative tweets using "spick." If only all the maps seen here looked like this last one -- and maybe even better....
More from our Tech archive: "Photo: Alexander Heit's final text message -- which he was sending when he crashed and died."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.