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I am confident that people who know me in real life will tell you that, while I exhibit at least the usual complement of flaws, odd quirks, and irritating peccadilloes, being hateful is not numbered among them. That’s probably because I’ve been fortunate, and can’t think of anyone who has seriously wronged me or wronged someone I love. Hate simply isn’t an emotion I experience, and the word is not one I use.
I would like to believe that this is true of most people — that they don’t really feel hate much, if at all — and that the word is too casually used.
Certainly, it is overused. It has become a convenience for some to label a difference of opinion as an expression of hate. This hurts everyone, simultaneously undermining the language, denigrating the person or group so labeled, and forestalling any possibility of discussion and understanding.
We can disagree about even important matters without hate being a factor. We can favor open borders or controlled borders, high minimum wages or no minimum wages, legal same-sex marriage or only traditional marriage, socialism or free markets, free abortion or no abortion — any of these extremes or anything in-between. We can vote Democrat or Republican, have Bernie stickers on our cars or wear “Make America Great Again” hats, embrace a rainbow of sexual promiscuity or prudishly advocate abstinence, fully accept the apocalyptic claims of the global warming alarmists or be skeptical of their science or the policies they advocate, be an enthusiastic supporter of the trans movement or think it’s a bunch of faddish nonsense, oppose the private ownership of guns or be a pro-gun fanatic in favor of no regulation at all.
None of these positions requires that someone be hateful, and it’s small-minded, presumptuous, and rude to ascribe hate to someone simply because he or she disagrees with your position on these issues — or, indeed, on the vast majority of issues.
I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t hate: how much of your life you want to devote to hating is your business, not mine. I’m saying you shouldn’t accuse other people of hating based on something as superficial as their opinions on topics about which you happen to think differently.
By far, most of the claims of “hate” I hear and read suggest more to me about the person making the claim than about the ostensibly hateful object of the accusation. I think it most often reveals that the accuser is shallow, lacks self-awareness and empathy, is uncharitable, and/or cynically uses the ugly label to silence people whose arguments he or she is unwilling or unable to engage.
Too readily smearing others as “haters” seems itself almost … well, it certainly isn’t an act of love.