Hating Haters
By R. D. Flavin


     Truth-speak time: I hate people who hate. There, I said it. I'm not perfect, imbued with Catholic tolerance, or extremely dispassionate and unemotional. I'm as human as the next with almost all the good and too many of the bad traits attached. I know: “Haters are going to hate.” Build a bomb; it's meant to explode. Plant a seed; it's expected to grow. If a person hates someone or something it's their right; though acting on some hatreds are illegal in many states and countries. Hating haters has never seemed wrong to me, as I don't believe in Orwellian “thoughtcrimes,” and only very rarely do I act upon my position by using borderline nastiness against anti-abortion protestors or telling a stranger who is ranting loudly about his negative feelings toward Pres. Obama to enjoy life in Canada and shut the something-or-another up. Sometimes I feel bad I hate haters, but soon convince myself ...it's the right choice.

     Usually, I'd start off a column such as this with an incredibly boring, though thorough, history beginning with Homo erectus being first to use fire because he hated the taste of raw meat… Nope – not going to do that (this time). Rather, I'll lead with a few basics to get things going. Hate is not the opposite of love, 'indifference' is. Hate is a primal rage encoded in our genes and reflecting our animal nature… Wrong, hate is a sentient or self-aware decision and animals, as far as we know, are not self-aware to this degree and don't care if they mix plaids and stripes. Hate is okay because my parents said so – this one might be partially true and I'll address it later in this column.

      The OED defines 'hate' as “An emotion of extreme dislike or aversion; detestation, abhorrence, hatred.” Its origin, at least grammatically, extends back to the Old Norse hatr and the Old Germanic *hatoz, while some suggest a Proto-Indo-European root of kād-. Regardless of its pronunciation or its grammatical origin, hate is most definitely, and unfortunately, a basic human trait which maybe, kinda', or sort-of extended back to Homo erectus. But, let's not go there, shall we?

     In America, 'hate' is protected by our First Amendment to the United States Constitution with the nuanced “abridging the freedom of speech.” Now, beyond speech there's also print, art, and other expressions of opinion. Committing acts of 'hate' are generally illegal, though their severity and prosecution varies considerably from state to state. A “hate-crime” in one state may be regarded as an unfortunate and unintentional occurrence in another. Though we live in a wonderful country wherein anything and everything could have supporters, there most surely exists an anti-whatever group who hates what others like. Choosing the widely common hate and hatred, with the addition of racism, is from a psychological perspective regarded as expressing an intense emotion of anger and hostility. Perhaps this quote may help:

[Note 1. “...One might argue (and I do) that prejudice, hostility, or hatred of a particular social group in the absence of any ingroup identification or benefit is not a case of intergroup behavior at all. Instead, it is an individual attitude, parallel to antagonisms or phobias with respect to any social object. This is not to deny the pervasiveness and significance of outgroup hate as a social problem. Indeed, many of the more virulent forms of prejudice and racism most likely represent outgroup hostility rather than ingroup favoritism (Brewer 1999, p.431).”]

Yes, there are leaders and followers, and yes, there are those who think for themselves or allow others to do their thinking for them, but ultimately an individual must assume responsibly for THEIR words and actions.

     With 'religion' matters get most tricky. Some religions believe it's a requirement to hate certain people and their behavior or to hate an entire ethnic group of people to the point of extinction. Though, in all fairness, there are some minor aboriginal religions which hate nothing and no one at all. I'll leave Buddhism alone for now, though their views on women are atrocious, and some minor sects openly hate Muslims. For now, as a lapsed Catholic, it only seems fitting I attempt to explain the position of “The One True Church,” that is, Roman Catholicism. On second thought, it may be best to have the Roman Catholics explain it themselves:

“Hatred in general is a vehement aversion entertained by one person for another, or for something more or less identified with that other. Theologians commonly mention two distinct species of this passion.

  • One (odium abominationis, or loathing) is that in which the intense dislike is concentrated primarily on the qualities or attributes of a person, and only secondarily, and as it were derivatively, upon the person himself.

  • The second sort (odium inimicitiae, or hostility) aims directly at the person, indulges a propensity to see what is evil and unlovable in him, feels a fierce satisfaction at anything tending to his discredit, and is keenly desirous that his lot may be an unmixedly hard one, either in general or in this or that specified way.

This second kind of hatred, as involving a very direct and absolute violation of the precept of charity, is always sinful and may be grievously so. The first-named species of hatred, in so far as it implies the reprobation of what is actually evil, is not a sin and may even represent a virtuous temper of soul. In other words, not only may I, but I even ought to, hate what is contrary to the moral law. Furthermore one may without sin go so far in the detestation of wrongdoing as to wish that which for its perpetrator is a very well-defined evil, yet under another aspect is a much more signal good. For instance, it would be lawful to pray for the death of a perniciously active heresiarch with a view to putting a stop to his ravages among the Christian people. Of course, it is clear that this apparent zeal must not be an excuse for catering to personal spite or party rancour. Still, even when the motive of one's aversion is not impersonal, when, namely, it arises from the damage we may have sustained at the hands of others, we are not guilty of sin unless besides feeling indignation we yield to an aversion unwarranted by the hurt we have suffered. This aversion may be grievously or venially sinful in proportion to its excess over that which the injury would justify (Delany 1910).”

     Okay, my take on the above is (of course, the reader is entitled to theirs) it's alright to hate people who do mean things, but it's a sin to go beyond hate and contemplate revenge. Wish for the death of a hateful person, fine, but NEVER wish for a really horrible and vengeful death of a hateful person. It certainly is a razor-thin difference, I'd have a problem with. Of course, that's why Roman Catholics have priests and the Confessional, to clear things up and one may walk away unburdened after reciting a couple of poems several times. For non-Catholics, there are other ways to address the hatred within and around them.

     Being raised an Army-brat gave me a unique perspective on hate and racism – it didn't exist. We were all American kids with our dads stationed overseas and there were no distinctions between Asian, Hispanic, African-American, and those pasty Caucasian kids. When my dad retired from the Army and we joined 'civilian' life, I was shocked by the widespread racism with some being subtle, but most being loud, scary, and most assuredly wrong. There was a soft spoken boy who was overweight, yet had a great sense of humor, and one day I asked him about all this 'racism'. “Well, my parents always told me to hate n-words, so it just seemed natural...” “Have Blacks ever hurt you or done anything wrong when you're around?” I asked. “No, he admitted, “but that doesn't mean my parents are wrong and they're just waiting for the right time...” Barely fourteen, just starting eighth grade, and wicked dumbfounded and confused. I mean if someone hurts you, you hurt them back, but to hate because of skin color made absolutely no sense to me. For the most part, I still can't understand it…

     And, as I grew up, I discovered there were organized groups who preached (read: spouted) hatred and racism. The more I studied, it slowly became apparent most ethnic groups went through a period of hatred and racism (yeah, Hawthorne, putting that “No Irish Need Apply” sign on your office-door, soured your literary accomplishments). Today, in the age of the Internet and the phenomenally popular Social Media platforms, hate, racism, and violent extremism is having a moveable feat (Gerstenfeld et al. 2003).

     It must be a refinement of grammar. I've said I 'hate' Mormons and Scientologists, I misspoke and only strongly dislike them and all they stand for. I often use the analogy of a menu – every dish on the menu is perfectly edible, but some prefer this while others prefer that. Stripping myself of my cloak of tolerance, I ask of myself,”Who do you hate?” At this time, no one has hurt me to such a degree to deserve my hate. I do hate violent extremist groups with the reasoning if someone wants to take my life, it's my right and duty to take their's first. Yeah, there's the law, but that's what good lawyers are for.


Brewer, Marilynn B. 1999. “The Psychology of Prejudice: Ingroup Love or Outgroup Hate?” Journal of Social Issues. 55, 3: 429-444.

Delany, Joseph. 1910. "Hatred." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Gerstenfeld, Phyllis B., Diane R. Grant, and Chau-Pu Chiang. 2003. “Hate Online: A Content Analysis of Extremist Internet Sites.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policies. 3, 1: 29-44.

If only humorism could replace terrorism,

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