Hate, it appears, is just busting out all over. There's Ezra "knock a blind guy" Levant, Marc "Hitler knew what he was talking about" Lemire* (the current rad-right poster child for free speech), Mark "Kids are fair game" Steyn, and of course the fellow who sets the benchmark for all time, Pastor Fred Phelps (although I sometimes find myself wondering if he hasn't been indulging all these years in a dark satirical send-up). We have this sort of racist drivel--a regular feature at her place these days--from the pint-sized Queen of Hate, Kathy Shaidle.
And now the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, and a Conservative MP, have been caught doing a little hate duet on a video that features "racist, sexist, homophobic comments." (Bravo, Con-boyz, way to score a bigot hat-trick.) Another frequently venomous commenter, John West, wandered over to Small Dead Animals to ask if this means Wall will change his mind about casting out Kate's now-infamous blog. Hey, why not? This party's barely getting started.
Hate is no longer just an emotion, but a lifestyle. As an emotion, it sucks: it's a corrosive so powerful that it inevitably destroys its own container. It doesn't make a normal person feel very nice. It's like crack cocaine--a quick, jagged buzz, and then a rocky down, making you crave another hit, and then another, and another. But for people incapable of empathy, much less love, that's all there is. So they band together to celebrate their hatred, creating a kind of noxious synergy. Whether the target is Jews, or Muslims, or Native people, or Blacks, or people with disabilities, or gays, or women who get out of line, or the poor, or immigrants, or folks who just aren't like them, you can count on a pretty good turnout these days, in the blogosphere, the media and the streets. Hatred, like misery, loves company.
I'm not claiming that we're free of this dreadful stuff in progressive ranks. We have lots to be angry about, and anger can slide almost effortlessly into hatred sometimes. I've seen it. But I like to think that most of us have the grace to be ashamed when we're called on it, and the integrity to be critical of ourselves and each other when it oozes forth.
Some of our blogging political opponents, though, seem to have mistaken it for a virtue. They elevate it to the level of political principle. And their commenters, drunk with it, cheer them on. But this isn't really about politics at all, and never has been. It's not about religion, either. It's not about "family values." It's just so good to hate. Kudos to one commenter, at least, with the reckless courage to admit it.
*"Lest your mind automatically reject the words of Hitler out of some political reflexive habit, remember that he witnessed the decline and fall of another multi-cultural state, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so he knows what he's taking [sic] about..."
UPDATE: (April 6)
Brad Wall has announced his intention to sue Canadian Press over a headline that it used in early coverage. (H/t Buckdog)
The headline on the first story, published on the wire before Wall or Lukiwski had apologized, stated: "Tape with Sask premier and Tory MP has racist, sexist, homophobic comments: NDP."
"The headline of the article states directly, or by innuendo, that Premier Wall was responsible for racist, sexist and homophobic comments appearing on a videotape," reads the notice of intent to sue under Saskatchewan's Libel and Slander Act.I find several things odd about this, the most obvious one being that the headline makes no allegation at all, but merely quotes one. Why isn't he suing the NDP? And, on closer inspection, the headline simply reports the fact that such comments are contained on a "tape." It does not attribute any one of them to anyone specifically, any more than I did in this post. We now know that the Premier was dissing Roy Romanow by mimicking a Ukrainian accent, while Lukiwski was insulting gays and some unidentified charmer was making sexist remarks about former provincial Liberal leader Lynda Haverstock.
Let me note that I, too, was describing the video, and that description, widely noted in the media and the blogosphere, was accurate--other than, technically speaking, the reference to "racism," which turned out to be a crude display of ethnocentrism instead.
I cannot imagine Canadian Press losing this gratuitous deflective action on Wall's part. Meanwhile, though, if he wants to sue me, he can have at it. Will the speech warriors come to my aid? Will Kathy Shaidle throw ten bucks into my tip jar if I'm forced to set one up? Stay tuned.
UPPERDATE: (April 6)
Got my answer about the speech warriors, I guess. It seems the only speech worth defending is Nazi speech, if you take a look at this lot. Sue Canadian Press? That's just for starters. What about a class action suit against CTV for defaming Conservatives?
In fairness, though, in the comments thread here, Jay Currie and my libertarian friend Meaghan Walker-Williams are offering financial contributions au cas où, although they are firmly in the anti-CHRC camp. (Thank you too, JohnnyRingo.)
UPPESTDATE: (April 7)
It looks as though cooler heads have prevailed.