Monday, January 10, 2011

Imputing Hate

Hate has a bad name. I read comments on various news articles and see lots of incoherent arguments usually peppered with vulgarity or obscenity, but hardly ever any expression of hate. Lots of columnists I read refer to "hate mail" that they receive, when what they actually receive could be more accurately described as "irate mail."

Nowadays, anybody that expresses opposition to, or disapproval of something is accused of "hate."
When the word "hate" is not used, the term "phobia" ( from the Greek goddess Phobos, goddess of fear and panic) is a handy substitute that adds the appearance of a clinical diagnosis to the calumny.

The question might be asked: In this secular society where I'm OK and maybe you're OK too; but maybe not; and everybody is entitled to his opinion, what is wrong with hate? What is wrong with hate from a secular perspective? Isn't the prohibition against hating anyone a religious admonition? Isn't the forbidding of hate imposing a "religion" on society?

There are some New Testament passages that clearly forbid Christians to hate anyone, e.g. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." and "Any one who hates his brother is a murderer....", but these are religious reasons for avoiding hate. As long as we're glomming onto religion to forbid hate, why can't we also forbid sodomy, usury or abortion? In the case of hate, we are forbidding an attitude; whereas in the case of the others we are forbidding actions.

Refuting a charge of hate is virtually impossible. If I claim that you are a racist because you want to live among people like yourself, there's not much way for you to prove that you are not. Jimmy Carter got into trouble for saying that he thought neighborhoods should be able to retain their "ethnic purity." This is what is described as a "gaffe" in politics, which is when you deviate from a prepared text and blurt out what you really think. Wanting to retain ethnic purity is a form of hate. If you want to associate with people like yourself, it must be because you hate all others.

Accusing someone of hate is supposed to disarm and discredit him without having to argue against his position. One's mental disposition is irrelevant to his philosophical position. One can be as hateful as Lucifer, but still be right. It is said that when a person dies, Satan (the name means "Adversary or "Accuser") comes to the judgment to claim his prize - but it will be no defense that you can truthfully say, "Oh, he's full of hate."
The reply will be something like, "Yes, that's true, but you did steal from the company, burn down your house for the insurance and commit adultery." What does it matter that he's the apotheosis of hate if the facts are on his side?

Laws against hate speech are laws against expressing offensive - to some - thoughts. Government has no business concerning itself with thoughts or emotions. Government should concern itself with actions, not thoughts.

It seems that the level of vitriol is usually in direct proportion to the ignorance of the one commenting.
A general rule is that if you can't express disagreement without resorting to obscenity and vulgarity, you probably don't have a very good argument even if it's not hate.

People who post comments on sites such as The Independent Institute or The Foundation For Economic Education, usually have something sensible to say even when they don't agree with the column being analyzed.

The closer one gets to "mainstream" journalism, the more idiotic and vitriolic the comments become. As you move closer to "tabloid" journalism, the comments descend to an even lower level and become laced with obscenity, vulgarity and other invective that many would describe as hate mail or speech, when actually it is more correctly "boob speech" or "dolt mail."  A significant fraction of the population seems to have an insatiable appetite for nonsense and the belief that calling people names or accusing them of evil motives refutes their argument. This is stupid, but it isn't hate.

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