Hate, the book: 045

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.

Part Two
Chapter Eight
Study How?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

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 …

Hate, the book: 044

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.

Part Two
Chapter Eight
Study How?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Permit me to reverse the order of our presentation by first reviewing the hard facts.  This man was a leader of a small group of people, calling themselves a church.  Presumably they raised funds, with Phelps drawing a salary from those funds.  As a motivating focal point, his church maintained that its moral duty was the public outcry against certain types of behavior.  Exactly what that behavior was isn’t relevant here.  That members of this church felt the need to protest against it is all we need to know.

The methods Phelps employed were considered inflammatory in that he and his members would seek out publicly emotional events and then piggy-back their own publicity through confrontation at those events.

It was a form of media parasitism.  The result was usually some form of media attention, which was a success for Phelps.  This attention was generally negative, but functioned as publicity nonetheless.  All we can conclude from these actions is that the publicity helped Phelps fund and maintain his group, and that he procured publicity in this fashion for decades.

So much for our dry story.  What of the emotional version?

Before I begin, understand that instead of embellishment or imagining a scenario, what I am writing and generalizing here has been reported about many times before.

A funeral is being held for a young man, newly returned from service to our country.  He comes from a small midwestern town, where many of his friends and their parents still live.  They have gathered to pay their respects and posthumous thanks, to console and commiserate with his family, and to review their own appreciation for each other as we remember how brief our lives can be, and how valuable our freedoms truly are.
Suddenly, across the street, a loud and raucous group of strangers appear.  They carry signs saying they hate gays, abortion and those who perform abortions.

That they hate this or that doesn’t matter.  They are loud and intrusive.  The funeral guests look at each other in bewilderment.  The police are called and the picketing group asserts their right to protest, so the police keep them in order.  The media starts paying more attention.  At a certain point a camera turns towards the group and Phelps speaks.
He talks of hate.  He justifies his group, his actions, and his ends.  He is not there to debate, he is there to entertain and to advertise.  He likes nothing better than for someone from the funeral to come forward and confront him, for he knows this will only increase his exposure in the media.  The emotions he stirs up in the bereaved family, the pain he causes others, all of that mean nothing to him.

When the media leaves, so does Phelps and his group.  No one was physically hurt, no signs were broken, no police reports filed.  And this happened many times throughout the years.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 043

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.

Part Two
Chapter Eight
Study How?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Alas, we can’t know with our current methods of storytelling.

Consider that in our society, at the age of 18 it’s assumed that the parents are no longer responsible for their teenager’s actions.

Therefore the parents are asked no questions when their teenager gets in trouble.

At the same time, our courts look upon young adults as self-sustaining entities required to be fully cognizant of the law and fully responsible for incurring the consequences of breaking the law.

For the moment then, let’s quickly examine two possibilities, even though there are many more. In the first, imagine that our innocent youth has been brought up to be privileged, arrogant, and greedy. His nature is to provoke, find insult where none is intended, and seek monetary remedy at the first opportunity. Further imagine that he has learnt all of this from litigious, querulous parents.

In the second possibility, let us assume that the victim has grown up in an average, unassuming and uneventful manner.

However, let us also imagine that one of his roommates has grown up in a divided household.  His parents, both bitter towards the other, are abusive and manipulative to the son.

This son, now free of their tyranny, seeks companionship in the only way he knows, by being abusive and manipulative.  Aided by happenstance and a few willing bystanders, the recipe for disaster is complete.

In these examples we can say that yes, hate does exist.  In the former, it actually existed in the psyche of the victim, exhibiting itself in the form of a “preemptive” lawsuit.  In the second example, hate is also evident, but not in the form we expected.  Instead it is a hate brought on by self-loathing and parental abuse.  The fact that it is exhibited in a form that appears motivated by skin color is only secondary.

A third and possibly implied example could be that one of the parents of the gang leader is an active member of the Klan and began preached skin-based hatred to the son, when he was a young child.  But even though all this could have been the case, it’s much more likely that the gang leader’s parents were entirely normal in their own way.

So what is the conclusion to our second story?  Maybe we have found hate. It’s hard to tell because we didn’t locate the previous source.  But all the symptoms were there: pain, consistency, persistence, and as an added bonus, it appeared in a group.  The likelihood is there, but the behaviorally anchored facts are missing.

Thus, we probably shouldn’t use it in trying to learn more about hate.

Now let’s move on to our third drama.

This is a simple story and focuses on a single event, a man named Fred Phelps died.
Phelps made the national obituary news pages not only because he died, but because of the way he lived, and because of how others reacted to his death.  Our story, then, will focus on the legacy of this man’s life.

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 042

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.

Part Two
Chapter Eight
Study How?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Whether that was the intended amount of pain the gang wanted to inflict is another story.  It doesn’t matter if it was either retaliatory or initiated.

We also know that these events occurred many times and took many different forms. Hiding books, calling names, showing a flag.

Yet they are all facets of the same underlying intent. Is that intent something we can call hate?

Not yet.  Finally, these events occurred over an extended period.  At least one semester, perhaps longer.  Why they remained roommates for as long as they did is another question.  That it persisted over time is a very important consideration for us, because it shows that the underlying intent was not a passing fancy or mood swing.  Rather, it may well have been something fundamental to their character.

In summary, we have a group, we have great pain, we have consistency, and we have persistence.  These are, indeed, the hallmarks of a powerful underlying emotion.  It is very possible that, within this story, we have an example of hate.  Why is it only possible? Why indeed isn’t this an obvious hate crime whose perpetrators should be punished immediately?

Let me attempt to show you why the diagnosis is still deficient by turning to another discipline entirely, medicine.

It is known within the medical community that some young couples exhibit a rare condition.  The first part is a medical condition, and it occurs when the young woman becomes pregnant.  Her breasts become tender, she may feel ill, have digestive problems, and be overly emotional.  She has a good cause for these symptoms, the growing fetus in her womb.

The husband, however, if he is especially empathic, may also experience these symptoms.  This condition, called Couvade Syndrome, is poorly understood and more common than you might think.

Medically legitimate research agrees that this is a psychological condition, not medical. But while the husband is not pregnant, he does exhibit symptoms of pregnancy.  Make no mistake, the symptoms are real, they are not just “in his head.”

And so it is with our story in San Jose.  On the surface it’s obviously a situation of hate. The dark-skin student suffered.  His protagonists clearly caused that suffering.
In short, all of the symptoms of hate are there.

But where is the true cause? It’s time to search for it right now.

All hate has to come from some place and happen at some point in time.  None of these young men were born with hate, it was given to them.  And it’s too early in their lives to think that they may have invented it on their own.  The question is, who planted the seed of hate in them?

To be continued …

Hate, the book: 041

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.

Part Two
Chapter Eight
Study How?  (Continued)

Stopping it sounds good. But like real stop signs, most people just roll through it.

Our next story opens in San Jose.  A young man enters the college environment, no doubt leaving home for the first time.  He’s on his own, looking for learning, love, and adventure.

Instead he encounters a highly localized environment of hostility, a series of events that make his days more challenging.  His roommates call him by a name he dislikes.  They make references to his skin color and “prank” him by hiding his textbooks and clothing from him.  Or they publicly present him with low-level threats, such as hanging the confederate flag from their window for an extended period of time.

As with our first drama, let’s first allow the emotions to well up within us in order to better appreciate the heartstrings the storytellers want to pluck.

First, we have the innocent youngster, apparently fresh-faced and full of trust and thirst for knowledge.  Then we have the conspirators, a redneck gang seemingly representing the racially charged Deep South.  They hang the “stars-and-bars” of the short-lived Confederacy.  A hundred and fifty years ago the Confederacy was known for slavery and wanting to break away from the Union.  Today it’s an emblem of terror, best pictured as white-headed cowards hanging unarmed men in front of their families.

Perhaps, however, the emotions can be interpreted another way.  Let us imagine that we represent the Deep South, and see the Confederate flag as an emblem of independence and confidence.

Perhaps our abused young man is not so innocent after all, but has come from a privileged and obnoxious background.  Perhaps he is the one starting with the stereotypes.  Perhaps he is the one who belittles and denigrates his roommates as being beneath him.  Perhaps, knowing several of his roommates are from the Deep South, he insults them by insinuating they were less intelligent as he.

Maybe what we are seeing is simply the reaction of normal young men to an abusive aristocrat. Perhaps the only reason this story came to light is because the young man’s parents have taught him to be obnoxious, querulous, and litigious.

They could well see this incident as an opportunity to make money, millions of dollars, according to the article.

With these possibilities in mind, how do your emotions run now?

The bottom line is we don’t know exactly what happened, and frankly, we shouldn’t care. The fundamental events of themselves will give us enough information to understand hate, if hate does exist in this instance.

So does it?

This is what we know for sure. Several young men acted as a group.  Another young man felt injured in some way, although nothing caused him bodily harm.  His pain and injury was mental.

However, the energy and funds required to initiate legal action are significant.  For that reason we can assume that the injury the plaintiff felt must be at least equal to the effort required for prosecution.  This gives us a rough measure as to the amount of pain he allegedly suffered.

To be continued …