The dangerous results of misusing the word "hate"

Previously, we talked about how too many in our culture use the word “hate” when they actually mean “disagrees with.”

Simply because I disagree with you, even if it is over a very important and fundamental issue, does not automatically mean that I hate you. It means we disagree, nothing more.

The disagreement is usually indicative of diverging worldviews and opposing philosophical frameworks. Instead of acknowledging the legitimacy of that or seeking to better understand those with whom we disagree, it is much easier to simply assume that the other is driven by emotion (hate) and not reason.

This can be an effective rhetorical move for the short-term. You can work to silence your opponents with repeated insistence that they hate you. Eventually, however, the move loses its weight and something greater must be used to accomplish the same effect.

This is where the danger lies in using a word like “hate” to demonize our opponents.

Photo from Sxc.hu by Enver Ucarer

At some point, everyone recognizes the incongruity of using the same word to describe the beliefs and actions of Dan Cathy and someone like Fred Phelps. The same emotion cannot be driving those two people, those two groups. Everyone will see that eventually.

Seeing Chick-fil-A employees respond with grace in trying circumstances and offering water to those who are protesting their place of business stands in stark contrast to seeing members of the Westboro Baptist Church cult picketing funerals and screaming words of condemnation at anyone listening.

When you say “Dan Cathy hates gays,” what word is left for men who preach that gay individuals should be rounded up and placed behind an electric fence? Do we honestly want to assert that hate is properly used in both of those instances.

When we use hate to mean disagreement, eventually hate will cease to generate the needed emotion because it will have become watered down. Hate will have lost the power it once had because it was used so casually.

A new word will be found and used. The new word will be stronger and more emotional. This is where language becomes dangerous.

We will cycle through words more quickly and continue to move on to harsher words. Hate has become the gateway drug leading to an endless addiction to demonizing the ideological opponent. One day, if not corrected, we will reach the end of this tunnel.

Hate will cease being a trojan horse. It will be the reality. Sides will become enemies and because the language has become so emotionally soaked and so driven by those emotions, ideological enemies will become moral enemies.

When you and I view each other as moral enemies, it is no longer simply acceptable for you to oppose me. It is now your moral obligation to oppose me, and to do so by any means necessary.

Words are powerful. If you repeatedly speak of hate, it will become the reality. Disagreement will no longer exist and will not be an option. All that is left will be hate. Those who constantly spoke of hate will finally be right.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.