A psychotherapist appeared on British national TV show calling for terms like “nerd” and “geek” to be considered hate crimes.
Dr. Sonja Falck appeared on alongside Bobby Seagull for “Good Morning Britain” on Thursday. Falck gives psychology lectures at the University of East London while Bobby Seagull is a mathematician, teacher, writer and self-proclaimed “proud geek.”
Falck suggested that using these terms to ridicule someone with those two terms as well as others like “brainiac” and “egghead” should have legal consequences.
“I think people find it startling because very high IQ people are a minority group in society who are very much ignored, they’re not understood and largely neglected,” she said. “It is the case that very high IQ people very often are bullied at school, for example. They’re a target for being bullied quite viciously.”
Seagull, on the other hand, argued that many view these terms as a badge of honour, stating, “While the term geek and nerd have historically been seen as being negative, people have now embraced the term and seen it as positive,” he explained. “I think with geeks and nerds, if you see it as a negative thing, it could be negative, but if you embrace it, actually to be a geek means a good thing.”
Falck wasn’t sold however claiming, “neurodiversity”—or the differences in people’s brains—“is an aspect of individual difference, which really ought to be recognized by society.”
“If you look at those legislations that relate to hate crimes, hate crime is simply about somebody being targeted in a negative way for who they are,” she said. “And a person with a very high IQ who comes across in a different way often is targeted in that way. So I just think [it’s] an individual difference that should be respected.”
Folks on the Good Morning Britain Twitter page were not as sympathetic.
“I think the ‘nerd’ and the ‘geek’ have taken ownership of these words, flipping from negative to positive,” one user wrote. “Geek chic is a ‘thing,’ people want to be them now, if someone attempts to use that as an insult today it is laughable. It’s not ‘hate crime’, it’s a compliment!”
“Let’s make every insult a hate crime,” another person commented. “Better build a hundred prisons more. Stupidity is dangerous.”