My last gasp on hate – at least for a while – has me pondering its definition depending on where you live. It’s been pointed out to me that people need to concentrate on similarities rather than differences; while agreeing in principle, I think this subject needs some dissection. Hate is a big word, a word meaning different things to different people, a concept seemingly open to interpretation.
In Canada under the Human Rights Act of 1985; no person or group is allowed to publish or display notices, symbols, signs or emblems that might express or imply discrimination or intent to discriminate. This law covers verbal intent, specifically banning telephone conversations of a hateful nature; also including communication by computer, be it email or the internet. The link below highlights a few of the more prominent convictions under Canada’s hate crime laws.
America on the other hand doesn’t seem to define hate until a physical assault has taken place. Section 249 of the Hate Crimes Act covers bodily harm inflicted on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.
In the United Kingdom, under the Criminal Justice Act of 2003; a judge must consider a crime “aggravated”, thus ruling a tougher sentence if the crime was motivated by ethnic or religious bias.
Hate laws vary drastically from country to country; Turkey for instance has no laws whatsoever regarding hate, the Sudan defines hate as “blasphemy against religion”. All of which take me back to my original ponder – one without a definable answer. I wonder if hate is the wrong word, perhaps the word is too subjective. Maybe we should put “hate” to another test. Obviously “hate” is a strong word, a word that tends to divide and muddy the waters.
It could be that we need to settle everyone down and take it back to playground rules. Trash talk wasn’t allowed at school so why should it be allowed when we “grow up”? Children aren’t allowed to talk smack about anyone – that is defined as a bully. So why should they “grow up” and be allowed to say anything they damn well please? I realize I’m over simplifying things, yet put that aside for a moment and ask yourself if replacing “hate” with “bully” might help put the issue in perspective.