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Inflammatory language is a form of speech that is used with the intent to stir up emotions, elicit anger, or invoke a physical reaction. Name calling is one form, but the use is generally wider in scope, in the sense that it is used to attack, oppress, or denigrate groups of people, or focus hate or anger on a public figure.
Websites that post "wanted" posters, using the names and photographs of doctors who perform abortions, are an example. Many of Hitler's most famous speeches, combining national patriotic feelings with anti-Jewish sentiment, and stirring the listeners to "act now" were also examples of inflammatory language.
Unlike "hate speech", which may or may not be a crime on its own, but which does not create a specific "call to action", authors of inflammatory language can be held legally responsible for criminal activities if it can be proven that the criminal was responding to a "call out" from someone. Several anti-abortion websites and preachers have been held accountable for things said on their sites, or for speeches they've given, that inspired someone to shoot a doctor or bomb a clinic.
Why it's nasty
Inflammatory language can include single words, phrases, names, or various discourse strategies. Whereas a textbook would be non-inflammatory because its factual and dry nature wouldn't offend, inflammatory language often intentionally provokes a reaction from the reader by use of strong rhetoric or controversial opinions. It can be used as a euphemism for hate speech, but this isn't necessarily so.
Name-calling is one of the crudest and most obvious forms, as it can directly attack or insult the reader. More subtle types are virtually undetectable to people outside the conflict.
Examples of inflammatory language are:
- Yelling "Pork!" in a crowded mosque.
- Yelling "More pork!" in a crowded synagogue.
- Yelling "Gilded Age!" in a Libertarian meeting.
- Yelling "AIDS!" in a crowded bathhouse.
- Yelling "Xenu!" in a Scientology meeting.
- Yelling "I'm black and proud!" in a KKK meeting.
- Yelling "Free beer!" in a crowded AA meeting.
- Yelling "Science!" in a crowded intelligent design conference.
- Yelling "Give!" in a crowded Objectivist meeting.
- Yelling "Evidence!" in a crowded CAM conference.
- Yelling "Get Fucked In Outer Darkness" to Latter-Day Saints.
- Yelling "Reality!" in a crowded postmodernist meeting.
- Yelling "Traditional marriage!" in a liberal meeting.
- Yelling "Class struggle!" in a crowded conservative meeting.
- Yelling "Free enterprise!" in a crowded communist meeting.
- Yelling "Higher criticism!" or "Do you drink your pastor's own piss for communion?" in a crowded Christian fundamentalist meeting.
- Yelling "Two kingdoms!" in a crowded Dominionist meeting.