Psychology lecturer and psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck is calling for the insults ‘braniac’, ‘know-it-all’, smart-a***’, ‘dweeb’ and ‘brain box’ to be covered by hate crime legislation
Branding someone a ‘nerd’ or ‘smarty-pants’ should be made a hate crime, an academic has claimed.
Psychology lecturer and psychotherapist Dr Sonja Falck says ‘divisive and humiliating’ anti-IQ insults can have negative effects that last a lifetime.
She wants people with the highest IQs in the country, who make up two per cent of the population, to be protected by the same hate crime laws as ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups.
The University of East London lecturer and Harley Street psychotherapist is also calling for the insults ‘braniac’, ‘know-it-all’, smart-a***’, ‘dweeb’ and ‘brain box’ to be covered by hate crime legislation.
Her views are based on eight years of research, which was spent speaking to dozens of high-ability children, parents, and adults about their own experiences.
She clams victims of anti-IQ slurs often experience the same level of distress and isolation as other minority groups at the receiving end of verbal abuse.
Extending legislation to include these words would, she claims, help stamp out the ‘archaic’ victimisation of more than one million Britons with a ‘gifted’ IQ score of 132 or over, she added.
Dr Falck has just launched a new book called ‘Extreme Intelligence’, a study of discrimination against those with especially high IQs.
Speaking at her book launch, she said the next Government must take legislative action to encourage societal change.
Dr Falck is herself a member of high-IQ society Mensa, and has given presentations for the organisation as well as the US-based institution SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted).
She said: ‘The N-word was common parlance in the UK until at least the 1960s.
‘Other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently.
‘Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter.
Dr Falck says ‘divisive and humiliating’ anti-IQ insults can have negative effects that last a lifetime. File image used
‘It is only with the benefit of hindsight and academic research that we realise how wrong we were.
‘The same can be said about anti-IQ words like ‘nerd’, ‘brainbox’, ‘geek’, ‘egg-head’, ‘dweeb’ and ‘smarty-pants’,’ she added.
‘Slurs such as these will continue to be used unabated at the expense of the brightest members of society unless and until legislative action is taken..’
In England and Wales, any communication that is threatening or abusive and directed towards a person on account of their race, colour, disability, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity is classed as hate crime.
It is covered by a variety of statutes including the Public Order Act 1986.
This has been revised over the years to include language that is deemed to incite racial, religious and sexual orientated hatred. Penalties can include imprisonment, fines, or both.
But Dr Falck, who also runs a Harley Street psychotherapy practice, says the legislation must be widened to include anti-IQ slurs, which she describes as hate crime’s ‘last taboo’.
Those with extreme intelligence should receive the same respect, acceptance and legal protection as the LGBT community and other minority groups.
‘The government says it is committed to creating an outward-looking, inclusive society yet continues to tolerate divisive, discriminatory language,’ she said.
‘In the short space of time since racial, homophobic and religious hate speech was banned, it is now seen by most as morally abhorrent.
‘It would be progress for British society to come to feel the same way about hate-filled, prejudicial slurs against our high-IQ community.’
A ban on discriminating against those with very high IQ is also supported by Mensa, the international high IQ society, and by Potential Plus UK, the national association for young people with high learning potential.
John Stevenage, chief executive of Mensa, said: ‘Very high-IQ individuals often experience isolation or bullying from people around them because they are perceived as being different from the majority.
‘Mensa as an organisation gives people with very high IQ a community which is non-judgemental and inclusive of difference. Put simply, everybody is different, so no-one is.’