On Spreading Hate

Consider the daffodil,

And while you’re doing that,
I’ll be over here,
looking through your stuff

—Jack Handey

I brace myself now, every time I check my e-mail. Seems like every other message is a diatribe, a polemic, or a passed-along hate message vilifying President Obama. I mean, I understand being emotional about a president you don’t like. I thought W was a major liability to the country, and I had a hard time even watching him on TV. But the vehemence and the blood curdling hatred being expressed towards the guy in office right now makes me think we really ought to think seriously about making sling-shots, let alone assault weapons illegal. Somebody’s going to get hurt before it’s over.

Most surprising, though, is how irrational some of these missives are. An old friend, a good businessman and, I thought, a reasonable guy, became the head of the Tea Party movement in our area when it was being organized. We had some conversations early on and he made a lot of sense back then. But, boy, how things change. His messages began taking on a strident tone a few months ago. The jist of them was that there was much, much more wrong with the country than right. OK, that is a widely shared opinion, one that has prevailed for a few years. I’ve felt that way, at times.

But now it’s all about conspiracy theories. This leaves me cold. I’ve heard these kinds of things all my life and they never came to anything. The most recent is that Obama is secretly a communist. And here’s the laugher: he cites Pravda, the Russian state organ as the source of this information.

My goodness, we know we have to take anything a politician in this country says with a grain of salt, but, to even read what the Russian government’s newspaper prints, much less to believe it, requires big time suspension of disbelief. What else can be construed from the article in Pravda than that Moscow’s intent is to play gullible Americans?

But I’ll tell you what this does for me: Socionomically, it confirms that we are well along in the bear market in social mood.  Increasingly, snarkiness is the default response. The internet makes it easy to slide hate messages around the country. You have to wonder how doing so can possibly contribute to the common good. You have to wonder how anybody can feel good about themselves for doing this. Self righteousness gone wild, I guess.

Really, the instinct to casually spread hate through the internet comes from the same place as the instinct to bomb innocent people in Boston. Are we turning into a nation of jihadists?


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