A new catchphrase for the Regressive Left—and other simple thinkers

There’s a new word being used both for critics of faiths and ideologies (for instance, antitheistic nonbelievers), and terrorists, like those who just blew up themselves and others in Istanbul:


Why is this word being used? In both cases it’s to dismiss substantive criticism or analysis. It’s much easier to dismiss critics of Islam or Catholicism, for instance, as “haters” than it is to defend the tenets of those faiths. If you can put your critic beyond the pale with a single word (“racist” will suffice as well), then you don’t have to do any work. As for terrorists, well, there are at least four causes of mass murder. In the case of attacks like that in Istanbul, which is likely connected with ISIS, the most frequently cited causes are religion, colonialism, mental illness, and disenfranchisement: poverty, lack of jobs, etc.  (In the case of the Istanbul airport terrorism, I’m not sure how violence against Turks can be blamed on colonialism—but I’m sure the Apologists will find a way.)

But “hate”? Of all the factors contributing to terrorism, that is the most facile explanation. Why did someone “hate”? It could, for example, be because of religion or indoctrination (Arab youths taught to hate Jews from the time they’re in kindergarten, largely on grounds of religion), or mental illness, as in the case of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. And, of course, the factors above can interact in toxic ways, as perhaps they did in the Orlando killer Omar Mateen.

Another reason “hatred” is so often used is that it seems to offer a simple solution to terrorism or criticism: love.  All you need is love! So if you go out and hug Muslims or gays or members of any demonized group, that will solve the problem. And, indeed, I believed that during the Sixties, when Love seemed the solution to all the world’s problems? Remember the photo of the Vietnam war protestor sticking flowers into the muzzles of National Guard Rifles? That photo, by Bernie Boston, symbolized the whole “all you need is love” mentality.


Unfortunately—and we all know this—love is not enough. Love (or mutual support) can of course be a palliative in times of stress and misery, but it’s no solution to the political problems of the world—at least, not a solution that can be easily implemented. Yes, the world would be better if Sunnis loved Shias, and ISIS loved the West, but that won’t be solved with hugs and flowers. And those who bruit about the “hate versus love” solution know this in their hearts, as expressed in their other mantra: “Haters gonna hate.”

Finally, yes, there are some splenetic souls who really are haters: those who hate women or gays or Muslims or Westerners;—in other words, bigots. When that leads to personal harassment, it really is hate. But to apply the term to criticism of ideologies, or to complex problems like terrorism, well, that’s just evading hard thought and hard work.

Here’s a sample I found in about two minutes (click on the screenshot if you want to see the articles).  They include “gun haters” like me.  I don’t hate guns: a gun is just a piece of metal. I intensely dislike the mind-set that claims we have a right to own guns, including concealed ones and semiautomatic ones.

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  1. mfdempsey1946
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The “hater” and “Haters gonna hate” cliches have been around for a while.

    They may have originated with respect to Hollywood blockbusters. In comment sections, one often finds them directed at people who have the unmitigated gall to criticize enormously popular movies or to express anything short of slavish adoration of them.

    So this may be an example of a brain-dead meme migrating from one area of a culture to another.

    • Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Common on sports blogs and forums, such as “For all you Patriots haters out there…”

      I have no problem admitting to hating all you religious fanatics out there.

      • Zado
        Posted June 29, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        “In some ways I feel sorry for racists and for religious fanatics, because they so much miss the point of being human, and deserve a sort of pity. But then I harden my heart, and decide to hate them all the more, because of the misery they inflict and because of the contemptible excuses they advance for doing so.”

        –Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

  2. Sastra
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    What usually happens is that both sides insist that the OTHER side is the “hater.” My side is just reacting properly, protecting itself, fighting back, and/or otherwise on the side of good/God. “Hate,” you see, is bad. So while on the surface it might look like I’m a hater, it’s not true. I love what is right — unlike you and your love of hating.

    The problem really hasn’t been identified. Endless rounds of “I know you are, but what am I?” are endless rounds, not any sort of solution. I suppose we can take some comfort in that at least at some level we’re on the same side.

    I know some people who in all seriousness propose “love” as a counter to terrorism and all other ills. When questioned about specifics — how will this work? — they eventually explain that there will be a mass spiritual awakening during which everyone suddenly realizes that only love matters and all conflict ceases. So till then our hope comes from meditation or prayer. Yeah, that’ll work.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      …how will this work? — they eventually explain that there will be a mass spiritual awakening during which everyone suddenly realizes that only love matters and all conflict ceases.

      Is this the general gist of the Celestine Prophecy? If so, it didn’t work.

      • Sastra
        Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Course in Miracles, I think, along with general spiritual ideological faith-based thinking and the ‘100th monkey’ fallacy. And it’s always going to work ‘soon.’ Like Jesus’ return.

  3. Alexander
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Astonishing, these guardsmen, holding their rifles pointed on the protesters. These guardsmen seem to lack any training.

    • Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      This protest was at the Pentagon, so these are almost certainly regular army, not guardsmen. And although I can’t tell in this photo, I’ve seen other photos taken at 1960s Pentagon protests in which the soldiers’ rifles appear to be unloaded (i.e. the prominent ammunition clip in front of the trigger of their M-14s is not there). The guardsmen who killed protesters at Kent state clearly loaded their weapons at some point, and probably would not have been as well-trained as regulars.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Concerning the picture – whether guardsmen or regular army, lack of training is apparent in this photo. In riot control situations the proper method to use and obtain best results and control, the soldiers on the front line should have weapons with bayonets attached and weapons unloaded. That is the way they teach riot control in the military.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 29, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          I watched similar events at UW-Madison at the time. These guys aren’t in riot-control mode, they are in “guard the building” mode.

          Which is not to say that the Guard (and they were National Guard) were well trained for the duty. They weren’t. Which is why Kent State happened.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            I would agree that Kent state happened because of untrained military. And again I say, what type of military makes no difference.

            But I would say you are making a difference where there is none. Guarding a building or moving people away from an area is the same thing. They call it riot control training. The weapons should be empty and Bayonets on. The troops positioned shoulder to shoulder with Bayonets head high. People tend to back away from that.

            • GBJames
              Posted June 29, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

              Well I would thing “riot control” would require a riot to exist. But then I didn’t coin “military intelligence”, either.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

                Please. Try to think of it from a realistic starting point. Okay men, Today we are doing guarding a building training. Tomorrow we are doing a push people back from an area or building. No…they just call it riot training. They have been doing this training for many years when they use the military and insert them into a civilian situation. You know…like peace time.

  4. Orli Peter
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Can we question the underlying assumption of this new catch phrase? Why is it bad to hate? Under certain conditions can’t we argue that hatred can be the moral response to a belief that directs people to target innocent people for death or rape? And if one was lukewarm to such a belief, couldn’t it be argued that is a less moral response?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Good point. I’d further argue that what they’re calling hate is just their own defensive reaction to someone disagreeing with them. If they label someone a hater, they don’t have to engage in the debate. It’s just a(nother) form of both avoidance and dismissal.

      • Posted June 30, 2016 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        Yes, Heather, Jerry is bang on with this post. The one thing Jerry has taught me over the years is that you have to back up your opinions with evidence: and if the evidence does not lead to that conclusion, then drop your opinion. As Sam Harris says, I don’t want to be wrong for longer than necessary.

        The problem ‘in the real world’ – horrible phrase, but you know what I mean – is that most people don’t work like that. It’s possible, and in my view probable that something like this occurs in the British context where we work under the laws of ‘hate speech’ as opposed to the US free speech model. Large sections of people, especially the young, think that critical speech is actually illegal (whereas the law has the caveat of it intending to incite hatred). There is no need on this website to go into the slipperiness of the phrase ‘to incite hatred’.

        One can forget or be less conscious of the fact that probably a majority of the population, at least here in the UK, views criticism of an idea, religion, political ideology, cultural practise as an incitement to hatred of the group which practises that idea. I would suggest that it takes personal experience of the emotional, irrational and, frankly, not very intelligent response of the person who cries, “Hater!” for one to understand the move for what it is. An attempt to shut down rational discourse and therefore all the more dangerous for that.

        To take a real anecdotal example. I actually do think that even the relatively liberal Muslim who hears the phrase, “I disagree with Islam but…” and who refuses thereafter to engage in conversation, and who reports their interlocutor for racism, can be assumed to be acting honestly on their own terms. They genuinely do think they are right and morally correct. Yet they also know that if the charge of racism can stick then the defendant is removed automatically from the conversation: and the proselytizing can continue with one less person to oppose it.

        I always thought that Dennett/Dawkins attempt to set up the Brights was a bit of a patronizing name and unwise. But you should not discount the fact that the cry-bully who shouts “Hater!” may in fact not be very intelligent.

    • Posted June 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  5. Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget about Trump and his struggle against “Trump haters”.

    • Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink


      • Wunold
        Posted June 30, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        An ingenious combination of Trump, haters and traitors! Let’s hope that no Trump campaigners (aka Clinton haters, or claters) get hold of it.😉

  6. Geoff Toscano
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Beats ‘libtard’ I suppose. Or maybe not. Pathetic either way.

  7. GBJames
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I hate that meme.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Abominators gonna abominate, I ‘spose.

      • Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:01 am | Permalink

        I don’t think Taylor Swift could do much with that …


  8. Scott Draper
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Calling someone a “hater” is different, I think, from saying they are an “X-hater”. The unmodified “hater” implies that the person has a character flaw that makes them hate things for no good reason. Haters gonna hate.

    However, saying someone is an X-hater, e.g., gun-hater, Muslim-hater, skips over the implication that the hate is groundless, but does suggest a degree of obsession.

    At least, that’s the connotation that I get.

  9. mcirvin14
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I suppose it’s kind of interesting that I would guess that the origin of the phrase in popular culture comes from the urban street via rap/hip-hop. The concept of the “player hater” was the common foil of many rappers in the the late 80s or earlier. We are enjoined, “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. Game in this context being the pursuit of the opposite sex. This concept is now widely applied as PCC notes. Cue cultural appropriation tropes.

  10. Historian
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    To refer to adherents of a certain viewpoint that you do not like as haters is a simple psychological ploy to paint them with a negative connotation. Its purpose is to influence the attitude of outside observers towards those people or groups. This appellation automatically puts the “haters” on the defensive, compelling them to justify their views. In an ideal world the use of the term “hater” would be accompanied by explanation of its validity. When this does not happen I suspect that most of the recipients of the message do no further investigation.

  11. Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    ” I intensely dislike the mind-set that claims we have a right to own guns”

    How do you feel about the mind-set that says we have freedom of speech, or assembly, or association, or religion?

    • Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Speaking for myself, I love ’em. They have a legitimate right, not a misconstrued one about an Amendment concerning State militia.

      • Posted June 30, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        You know, you can make up whatever personal interpretation you like for any of our rights. Both sides do.

        But it is the Supreme Court that arbitrates the actual meaning – and they have been doing it for a long time when it comes to the 2nd Amendment.

        It may surprise you to learn that the two definitive recent rulings are not “misconstrued” and not “illegitimate” – they are perfectly in line with at least half of the S.C. interpretations of the past.

        You know how upset we get when creationists start making up their own facts; blithely dismissing well-founded scientific precepts for the wrong reasons, etc?

        Well, that is what you (and Dr Coyne) just did. The 2nd Amendment has always protected gun possession by citizens – whether OR NOT they were in a militia. It has now been made crystal and irrevocably clear that the 2nd protects gun ownership and possession of individual citizens.

        That is the law. You don’t like it. That’s understandable. But you don’t get to call it illegitimate in honesty.

        The law will NOT change unless the 2nd Amendment is revoked. But until then, it is a Constitutional right to own certain types of guns – mainly pistols, assault rifles, and hunting guns.

        It is not a “mind-set” – it is the law and a Constitutional Right.

        • Posted June 30, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          This is an instance of what I believe is called “legal positivism”, and is just one philosophy of law. In others, one can hold the opinion that, unfortunately, the Supreme Court wrongly decided the relevant cases.

          • Posted June 30, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

            If you believe that the S.C. wrongly decided these cases, one would think that you might be able to provide some sort of history in America where people were not allowed gun ownership.

            Perhaps you could address gun ownership in the American colonies pre- and post the Bill of rights – and how the 2nd Amendment might be interpreted to deny gun ownership to individual people?

            I think you will have your work cut out for you. Gun ownership by a person was was considered a common law right – from English common law. Everyone in the colonies was allowed (with occasional local exceptions) to own a gun – including men, women, friendly Indians, poor people, even slaves in some places.

            Indeed, men and women were often required to own guns and ammunition. This includes women who were not part of the militia. In New England, men and women were required to carry them if they were more than one mile from their homes, or when attending public meetings.

            The very reason we have the 2nd Amendment was in response to efforts by the British to disarm the colonists and to ban the sale of arms to the colonies. The Founding fathers responded by purchasing arms from other countries and starting militia action to take arms from British military installations.

            If one is going to argue that the intention of the 2nd is merely militia-based (as if the militia was somehow different than the common people who were armed all the time anyway, then one would think that your argument would imply that outside of the role or action of a militia, that gun ownership by individuals would not be allowed. Good luck with that.

  12. Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Spot on, as usual Jerry. (Though no mention of the other in-word for dismissing people’s opinions: along with “hater” and “racist”, there is “Islamophobe”.)

    I recall, nostalgically, a certain atheistic blog network where one could go over and have a really good discussion about issues. Then it got all ideological, and anyone who disagreed about anything just got dismissed as a “hater”. 😦

  13. Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    This means that Taylor Swift is inadvertently funding both sides of the war on terror.

  14. strongforce
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    This is just another tool of tribalism.


  15. strongforce
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I agree the use of the word hate is an intentional mischaracterization. I suggest we substitute disfavor whenever the term hate is misapplied.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Disfavorers will disfavor.

  16. Kevin
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Online culture wants memes. It needs them. We have seen, already an unraveling and softening of ‘the seven’ (*). It is a very powerful meme to have a single phrase or word represent as prodigiously as possible a circumstance.

    When single words can advance a complex idea, the word’s power is reinforced. In the case of hate, it can convey the message that a person’s hatred is reinforced by religious beliefs or it could simultaneously define a person as disaffected and depressed, but not motivated by religion.

    Science strives for simplicity in explanation, modeling, and predictive capabilities. Powerful concepts that reinforce huge amounts of physical phenomena…this is good for science and replication in engineering. But there can significant flaws when attempting to generalize behaviors of humans in the real world.

    “He is a bad person”. It explains nothing, and yet it can explain virtually everything at the same time. There is no insight into this proposition that is not left open to interpretation. And that is not science. Oh, if Hitchens were here he would label behaviors for what they are.

    (*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_dirty_words

  17. Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    “If you can put your critic beyond the pale with a single word (“racist” will suffice as well), then you don’t have to do any work.”

    Yes, I noticed the media doing this re Brexit, especially the establishment newspapers in New York and Washington D.C.

    So I checked the online UKIP membership form and constitution.

    Prospective members of UKIP must declare that they have never belonged to any of the listed far-right parties.

    The constitution also has a long paragraph asserting commitment to racial and gender equality and several other principles shared by centrist political parties.

    So it seems that most British voters don’t fall for this trickery.

    Age may have something to do with it. The turnout as a percentage of eligible voters increased in monotonic progression from the 18-24 group from around 35% to over 80% for the over-64 group.

    Some observers interpreted this as indicating the elders were voting in their self-interest to the disadvantage of the youngsters.

    This would work if it could be shown that the youngsters turned out as well as their elders, but voted Bremain.

    But they did not. About 65% did not vote. This seems to me a phenomenon worth study.

    It was reported that Google was unusually busy the following day with answering what the EU and Brexit was all about. Were these the seniors Googling or were these the youngsters? The ones who didn’t vote.

    We were told that a new referendum should be allowed after voters informed themselves of the issues. But how will they become informed?

    We have been advised that seniors are not competent to decide the future of Britain, presumably because they will not be alive in that future. Which seems to me exactly what one would expect youngsters to say, because most think they will live forever. They obviously believe that 46 years is a long time in the life of a nation. (64-18=46)

    What is not well-known by the pundits is that seniors have been discussing the Common Market since 1957. And they have been discussing political union (EU) since at least 1970.

    If the youngsters did not know enough to vote or to know why they ought to have voted, we need look no further than the epithets used to describe the leaders of Brexit: racist, isolationist, far-right, änti-Muslim.

    About the only nasty thing they have not been called is anti-Semitic, my own personal litmus-test for extreme right views. But the evidence is that both Labourites and Conservatives supported Brexit, in droves.

    Was political debate always as low as this?

    Frankly, I can’t remember. What I do remember are the main arguments for not joining the Common Market.

    1. For Britain at least, joining a trading bloc would be a move away from free global trade.

    2. Suppliers of food to Britain were the world’s most efficient (lowest cost) producers, while the inefficiency of Common Market producers was the main rationale for the trading bloc.

    3. Finally, it was argued that the UK would ensure that European institutions would be democratic.

    All three of these arguments were well known and clearly argued in the media prior to 1970 when I was a senior research officer and part-time lecturer at the London School of Economics. Everybody was discussing the issues.

    The third point won the day. Nobody denied that a British presence in Europe would promote democracy. As I recall, once this point became popular knowledge, the debate faded. How much it faded, I don’t remember.

    They were mistaken about Britain’s ability to ensure that the the European Project would be democratic. We know that now and I believe that UK political leaders have known it for decades.

    The epithets have been used not solely on account of laziness or ignorance as you suggest.

    No, the epithets have been used to hide the failures of the British political leadership.

    What else can you do if you support the emperor knowing he wears no clothes and knowing he will do nothing to change his ways?

    Mr Farage has been a British member of the European Parliament for 17 years. He has shown the British leadership what can be done.

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Some incomplete but good starting words from Martin Luther King, Jr. (emphasis added)

    “What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

    But I would add that love and power need prudence and wisdom and knowledge of one’s enemies and what makes them tick. Then add in a bit of ferocity.

  19. Posted June 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I have some advice from Anti Dennett: “hate is just a word”. We live in a new age of propaganda, where great many utterings don’t mean anything.

    Hate —as a strong dislike — is a necessary byproduct of love. That’s not woo, but you would hate it, if that which you love is taken away or ruined. Hate-the-emotion can have entirely understandable reasons. If I were Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I’d hate Islam. Those good progressive folk presumably hate bigotry.

    And the atheist or skeptic had always the problem that they poked holes into other people’s wishful thinking, making that mode of conversation generally less attractive than pronouncing lofty promises and speaking in deepities. Calling the skepticism a form of “hate” could be an indication that the zeitgeist became wholly accomodiationistic, or more partisan and extreme (probably both).

  20. Matt
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Hate and love are emotions that come about for reasons. So we don’t need “love” we already have that emotion. We need reasons to love. And we don’t need to quash hate, we need to quash reasons to hate.

    Virtually all hate is caused by ignorance or mental defect. There is no such thing as just a hater. Thanks for this, Jerry.

    Watch out for those who have hate for hate. They clearly don’t get it.

    • pali
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      “Virtually all hate is caused by ignorance or mental defect.”

      Where did you pull this out of? Hate can be a perfectly reasonable reaction to the consistent bad behavior of another.

      • Matt
        Posted June 30, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        I forgot there are still people who believe in free will. My bad. Carry on hating people who couldn’t have done otherwise.

        • Wunold
          Posted July 1, 2016 at 12:14 am | Permalink

          How is a “reasonable reaction” an implication of free will?

          And how does pali’s example fit into your view that all hate is caused by ignorance or mental defect?

          • Matt
            Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            Ignorance of determinism. You don’t hate people if you believe they could not have done otherwise. In order to hate them, you must believe they could have done otherwise.

            Ignorance of determinism is the prime cause of hate.

        • Pali
          Posted July 1, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          Uh uh, no. Determinism does not abrogate personal responsibility for behavior. It is the ultimate explanation for behavior, but holding people accountable for their actions is one of the baselines for social interaction, and I will continue to do so in that context.

          I may be a determinist, but “the Big Bang plus physics made me do it” is bullshit.

          • Matt
            Posted July 1, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Uh oh, I didn’t say anything about not holding people accountable. We were specifically talking about “hating” them. Don’t get lost in your standard compatibilist talking points. We hold the mentally ill responsible for their actions. We don’t “hate” them. It’s tumours/mental illness all the way down.

            Hold people accountable for all utilitarian reasons you see fit. But hate them? You’d have to think they could have done otherwise to make that rational. They couldn’t have. So it isn’t.

            • Pali
              Posted July 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

              Hating people who behave badly IS a utilitarian response, and IS holding people accountable for their actions. Outside of compelling them physically, the best way I have to influence their future behavior is to make clear my intense dislike (aka hate) of them for engaging in it.

              I wonder if you apply this the other way – do you not love people for their behavior? Do you rather feel nothing at all for them, because they couldn’t have done otherwise? It is the exact same thing in reverse. Are you taking the position that feeling anything for someone because of their behavior is inconsistent with determinism and therefore irrational?

              • Matt
                Posted July 2, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

                Hate is an emotion that you feel. You don’t feel it to make other people better nor does you feeling it make anyone act better. Your mistake is thinking you need to feel hate to let people know your disapproval of their actions. You’re just using the word “hate” in the wrong context if you think you can hate people into being better people. People don’t get better when they feel hatred coming at them, they get worse. Socrates figured this out 2400 years ago. We know a hell of a lot more a out human nature now and it turns out he’s still right. People don’t get better when they feel your hate.

                As for love I have that for everyone and everything regardless of their behaviour. Sue me.

              • pali
                Posted July 2, 2016 at 5:47 am | Permalink

                Really? You have never changed your behavior because of the distaste of another for your actions? Because I know I have, and I know others who have. I know people who have hated me, and who I have hated, where behavior was changed and understanding was reached because of this conflict. But let’s say you’re right (and in many, perhaps even most cases you are, but unlike Socrates I need data to back that claim up before I accept it). If nothing else, hating someone for their bad behavior encourages me to avoid spending time with that person, giving me motivation to avoid dealing with them whenever possible and lessening the stresses on my life that they would cause. This remains a utilitarian benefit to hating someone.

                My opinion? If you love everything and everyone, then you have diluted the word to meaninglessness. The entire point of loving someone is that you care about them more than you care about other people – they mean more to you than just the random person. Are you telling me that you don’t form any sort of special relationships with people, that you don’t have anyone that matters more to you than others? And that how these relationships form doesn’t depend on the other person’s actions?

              • Matt
                Posted July 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

                Yes really. I have never changed my behaviour because of someone’s hatred towards me. People convincing me that my behaviour is unhelpful using facts and reason has changed my behaviour. Hate is anti-helpful in this regard.

                And yes, I have special relations with the people I interact with the most. I can not interact with 7 billion people all at the same level. But I still love everyone. I cry for strangers suffering on the other side of the world, not knowing anything about their behaviour. I don’t like my brother’s behaviour most of the time. But I love him anyway. He’s my brother. According to you his behaviour that I don’t like should make me “hate” him, presumably in hopes of making him a better person. This is the most bizarre idea of morality I have ever heard.

                You seem to be arguing that hate is the best tool we have to achieve a moral world. Truly bizarre.

              • pali
                Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

                Woah now – where the hell did I say best? My sole position throughout this discussion has merely been that hate can be useful and a reasonable reaction to someone’s behavior, not that it is the ideal reaction to a situation. You made the claim first that hate comes about solely through ignorance or mental defect, later that hating someone is incompatible with being a determinist as it has no utilitarian value – I gave examples of ways it can have that value, and there are others (in a kill or be killed situation, hating the other can make it easier to kill them and survive). I never said it should be the default reaction, or that it is the ideal way to go about things.

                You seem determined to not admit that you build relationships with people based at least in part on their behavior and actions.

              • Pali
                Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

                Whoops, seems I did say best. *facepalm* That was supposed to have a caveat along the lines of “if I can’t reason with someone…” in front of it. Sorry for that, posting during breaks on a mobile doesn’t allow much time for proof-reading.

              • Matt
                Posted July 3, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

                Actually you have not demonstrated any positive use for hate at all. You claim it makes people behave better but that the opposite is true. I also doubt that hate is important for defending one’s life. Anger and rage seems like they would do the trick. In the end I think you are misusing the world hate. It doesn’t mean the same thing as getting mad or showing disapproval. It has no utilitarian value in fact is has negative utilitarian value. And it is irrational to hate someone who could not have done otherwise.

              • pali
                Posted July 4, 2016 at 3:28 am | Permalink

                “You claim it makes people behave better but that the opposite is true.”

                You have presented no argument to support this, only assertions. I could give anecdotes to support my case, but I doubt you’d find them convincing, so I think here we are at an impasse.

                “I also doubt that hate is important for defending one’s life. Anger and rage seems like they would do the trick.”

                I submit it would depend on the nature of the conflict, particularly its length and scale – anger/rage is a rather short-term emotion, but hate? Hate can last, and can be applied broadly.

                “In the end I think you are misusing the world hate. It doesn’t mean the same thing as getting mad or showing disapproval.”

                Hate’s definition is very simple: intense or passionate dislike or hostility. What definition are you working with?

                “It has no utilitarian value in fact is has negative utilitarian value.”

                You have not demonstrated this, you have only asserted it. The same is true of my case, so I suppose again, we are at an impasse.

                “And it is irrational to hate someone who could not have done otherwise.”

                And I think the reason you keep avoiding the latter parts of my posts is that to love someone who could not have done otherwise is no different rationally than to hate someone who could not have done otherwise, but you don’t want to accept that because you think hate is bad but love is good – in the vast majority of cases I agree, but this is a subjective judgment not necessarily applicable universally.

                The utility of something, and the ethics of making use of that utility, are two different things. I submit that hate has utility, and that a proper, controlled use of that utility can have value without causing ethical dilemmas (you never addressed at all my point regarding hate’s positive self-motivating aspects, for instance, and if you really want I’m sure I can come up with hypotheticals that I don’t have personal experience with) – but like drug use, it is distressingly easy to go too far with it, and so it should not be by any means the starting position in nearly any situation, but a fall-back to use when other methods fail.

                That being said, I think we probably would both agree that we’ve been somewhat talking past each other, and I don’t know that we’ll get anything of worth of continuing this. You are welcome to get the last word, and I promise I will indeed read it, but unless you specifically invite a response I think I’ve taken up enough of the comment section on this page. Farewell, and thanks for the discussion.

              • Wunold
                Posted July 4, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                Maybe both of you should read Robert J. Sternberg’s The Psychology of Hate or similar literature and then continue your discussion.

            • Matt
              Posted July 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

              Both hate and love are emotions that we do not feel by rationalization. They arrive unannounced, beyond our control. Once they’re their we can shoos to rationalize how we deal with them. If, upon reflection, we think they represent a desired state of consciousness for us, we can choose to just go along with them and enjoy the ride. Or, if upon reflection, we think that they are neither useful or leading us to a desired state of consciousness, we can takes steps to think our way out of them.

              I honestly can not think of a case where feeling someone’s hatred towards me has caused me to improve my morality. You can also let people low your displeasure with their actions by punching them in the nose. What I’m saying is, I put “utilitarian hatred” in the same category as punching someone in the nose. Some people think nose punching is utilitarian. I think it’s a mistake.

  21. Posted June 29, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree very much with the post. “All you need is love” is a quote excellently illustrating this simplistic worldview. It permeates the Beatles’ songs and does not allow me to enjoy them whole-heartedly. I liked them much more when I first heard them, because at that time I knew too little English to understand the lyrics.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      “Imagine” by John Lennon is also similarly and simplistically themed. But I still love both songs even though I know it’s a pie-in-the-sky and saccharine message.

      But to be fair, a song about “All you need is hate” probably wouldn’t have legs. So that’s encouraging.

  22. Posted June 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s become popular currency because of the Taylor Swift song: “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate” etc

  23. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    “Hater” is the label used to suggest that an opponent is closed-minded and/or has reached his or her opinion without due regard for relevant factors. It overlooks that there are matters that merit our enmity, and that that enmity can be held provisionally, subject to change based on additional evidence.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      I, for example, as a long-suffering Cleveland Indians fan, hate the New York Yankees, based upon years of observing, and ratiocinating upon, that team’s unmitigated gall and arrogance. I remain open, nevertheless, to the theoretical possibility that someone in pinstripes might someday do something worthy of public approbation.

  24. keith cook + / -
    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree, hater is lazy but it does funnel all your current thoughts on any given, rightly or wrongly into one word and can be dispensed with any amount of volume and repetition according to your disgust, which makes it handy but not a very informative argument, as you point out.
    Emotionally charged ‘hater’ is motivating and contains power in a sense of belittling, degrading ones public and personal image, given that hate has negative psychological connotations, as in, that put you or your tribe down = bad status, bad human, dispicable and anti whatever it is to our higher value of what ever it is..
    but it is, a good indication to ‘get out of the room’ and wait for another day if you deem it, worth it, eh, perhaps the opponent is tired…
    ..that has a risk of showing weakness but a sound argument based on evidence and reasoning (no surprise there) without joining the holier than thou or a ‘shouting match’ should sustain personal fortitude.
    There is the realisation that no sound argument would make any impression, impact anyway, which is usually the case.

  25. bobkillian
    Posted June 30, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    “A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.” – Emerson

    One of the primary goals of an ideology is to answer questions and prevent curiosity. Ready-made, simple, rigid answers. “He works his wonders in mysterious ways” should be translated as “stop asking questions now.” Dammit, PCC, Istambul *must* have been caused by Western oppression because, um, because, um, re-thinking is just too hard.

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