Hello Curious Friend. Welcome to my book about Hate. The number tells you where you are in the sequence. I look forward to your comments.
Study How? (Continued)
Phelps and his church became known for these crass, disruptive tactics. In fact, the article about his death spends considerable time discussing them, as well as the future of this church and the fact that his children were committed to continuing his “traditions.”
What can we say about our third story? I left the emotional part for last because, otherwise, it would be difficult even for the most seasoned behavioral scientist to separate reason from reaction.
Here are the facts. We have a group, a long-lived group at that. They inflict incredible emotional pain on those at funerals, and they spread that pain around the country through the media.
Unlike our second story, where the form of the message was varied, here even the form of the message was consistent, public picketing and confrontation.
Another criterion for a definition of hate here is persistence, and as noted, both Phelps and his group have been disrupting funerals in this way for many years. And it appears that the group will persist in this behavior for many more years to come. This leaves us with the last major item, the source of this hate.
Here, the major source is Phelps himself, for his disruptions have gone on for so long that finding prior evidence and causes could be impossible. His parents are likely long gone, and if not, their memories would be suspect. It’s possible other evidence exists, but how much work would it take to retrieve? Perhaps there was a singular event that snapped his mind. This would be a wonder if it existed, but can we find it?
For this last story, we must be content with Phelps as the source. He is the manager, the leader, and the inspiration of his group. Both he, and this story, is a good example of hate.
And it will be from the likes of Phelps that we will continue to construct a solid definition of hate.
What can we conclude from this lengthy chapter? We have discussed many “hate” events, concluding that some are very certainly using the term to mean “intense dislike.” Of the others, we have seen that what may look like “hate” in the beginning can quickly be made to look more complex and subtle. Finally, there does exist a type of story where the existence of “hate” can be established with confidence.
We have emerged from our cave of darkness to find many things that illume the subject of hate.
Looking for evidence of hate in this way shows us that it is difficult to discern in today’s landscape. We must be particular, looking for pain, persistence, consistency, and possibly a group. We should also be able to identify an original source of the hate. In the terms of our metaphorical landscape, we are looking for one thing, one particular thing that is hate, and we have to be careful about confusing it with something else. Is this the same thing as deriving a definition? Not quite, but it is a solid step forward.
To be continued …