The Right To Hate
There are as many opinions in this country as there are people… Okay, maybe a few less than that since we seem to have an abundant lemming population blindly following ideologies they don’t really understand, but you get the idea. Not surprisingly, some of these beliefs are extremely bias and downright hateful. But, here’s a question for you. Which is worse: Having a minority of the population who choose to hate or having a population who has no thoughts of their own?
Our nation, and our world have seen some pretty horrific acts based on hate. Of course, this is nothing new. Hate has been around since the beginning of time. We just get to see it live as it happens on the Internet.
What I’m going to say may surprise you, but there are worse things that could be happening than hate. Hate in of itself is just someone’s absolute dislike of something or someone. It’s an opinion, not unlike any other opinion. By itself, it means as much or as little as anyone else’s opinion does, which is only what you make of it.
I, or you, may disagree with their hate. We may see their cause as outdated, foolish, uneducated, uninformed or just plain ignorant. We may even find it distasteful, disturbing or repugnant. But so what? If their hate is just their hate, then they are welcome to it. Where it becomes a problem is when hate is paired with violence, discrimination or oppression of anyone else’s rights. We are all free to think what we like, but we are not free to impose our beliefs on someone else. There is zero — ZERO right for anyone to force their beliefs, politics, religion, race, ideology or anything else on anyone.
If someone wants to stand on the street corner and express hate and discontent, it is no different than someone else who expresses love and peace. I would much rather have that person standing on the corner blabbering about hating something than have a sterile homogenous population of mindless automatons without a single thought of their own in their heads. At the very least, we hope that person on the street corner has a couple of brain cells that are still talking to each other. Some other folks you kinda wonder about.
The only way hate gains power is if we give it what it needs to grow: attention. The more attention we give it, the more we try to physically engage it, the more we feed the causes of it. While I personally disagree with their politics and biases, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide” is a good read on how to effectively fight hate. Please note in this context, ‘fight’ does not mean physical conflict. A quote from the guide: “Do not attend a hate rally. As much as you might like to physically show your opposition to hate, confrontations serve only the perpetrators.”
Among the rights protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is the right to free speech. I’ve always believed this is the most difficult right to support because it not only protects things that you want to hear, it protects the things you don’t want to hear as well. Example: That guy on the street corner spewing hate versus the guy preaching love. If you’re thinking, his speaking violates my right to free speech and my “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, well… no. You are free to turn around and walk away. You don’t have to listen to him.
In what is considered the foundation of the First Amendment, Voltaire wrote: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend till death your right to say it.”
We seem to have forgotten the core values that brought our nation into being and devolved into a primal state where every thought, every word we oppose must be responded to as physically and violently as possible in order to prove our thoughts and words are somehow superior. It doesn’t matter what your views are, beating someone over the head with a pole to stop them from exercising their First Amendment right is wrong. And no, it doesn’t matter what they are saying or if you are yelling “peaceful protest” while beating them.
Violence motivated by hate is appropriately termed a hate crime and justifiably imposes harsher penalties on the perpetrators. Go ahead and think what you will, even if it is hate. But understand there will never be any tolerance towards imposing your hate upon others.
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