September 26th, 2002


I am a hater, what can I say?

Can we talk about hate? More specifically the "Hate-Free Zone" concept? Is that the dumbest thing the Left has promoted in years, or what?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not "Pro-Hate" either. Without being overly naturalizing however, I think we can all agree that hate is a fairly basic human emotion. Hate has positive functions. You know I hate my landlord, for example. While getting completely bound up in one’s hatred for anything is usually a bad idea, certain people, and even classes of people have done a lot to deserve hatred.

I got a call at work the other day that illustrated some of the issues. "Hi. I saw your "Hate-Free Zone sign at the front of the store. I wonder how you can put that up when you obviously hate Christians. Please cal l me back." Now, she obviously has an agenda. But that’s the point. Organizing around the "issue" of "hate" brings us to a lowest common denominator pretty quick. And that LCD can easily ignore the history of a particular discrimination and the way po w er works in society.

Because it’s not about "hate". It’s more likely about racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc; the victimization of less powerful groups in society by those who hold more power. That this isn’t said directly is obviously a tactical decision.

There’s both a cynical message from these signs and an apolitical one. I think there’s an underlying notion among some who see these signs that, nudge nudge, we know what groups we’re really talking about here. I fall more into that camp. Ha ting the capitalists who created this unjust society, for example, is probably OK, just be quiet about it. In this way it’s just another popular front slogan and I probably shouldn’t take it too seriously.

Except that it too easily lends itself to the a political definition. Being "hate free" makes it appear as if we are all on equal footing and that all hate is equal But "hate" is both an individualized and collective concept. Hating an abusive father, for example is often a healthy thing. Maybe it’s living in California, but I’ve heard too many exhortations to "let go of your hate" to not see the creepy, new age side of this message.

Does the "Hate Free Zone" concept seem especially middle class to anyone else? Similar to the language of diversity training, it seems to strive for an ideal of a polite society, a society where one must master a language of over-formalized language. That this is often a privileged skill is rarely, if ever, acknowledged. "Hate is ugly" it seems to say. It’s reminiscen t of gentrifiers moving into a neighborhood and calling the police on long term residents for having junked out cars on the lawn. Does "Hate Free" serve more to stop hate or to keep Left movements in the control of middle class, professionalized, activists?

One of my favorite writersmotel666 had some thoughts on this also. I don’t agree with all of them, but the second paragraph made me laugh out loud.

And as the Clash said, so many years ago, "Let fury have the hour / Anger can be power / Do you know that you can use it?"

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