October 28, 2003

Hate This Column

Ever notice how some people are just absolutely consumed by what they hate most? Put your hand down; this happens to everyone once in a while. But for some people, an irrational feeling of hatred for someone or something just never goes away. It makes you wonder if the hate gives that person a reason to live. Or as Marilyn Manson used to croon, “Hate love! Love hate!”

Witness Bill O’Reilly, the commentator whose show “The O’Reilly Factor” is a huge ratings draw for Fox News. If you’re lucky enough to have never seen or heard him, think of O’Reilly as Rush Limbaugh without the charm and fake humility. Though Bill touches on a variety of issues, one of his main obsessions is Jesse Jackson. To O’Reilly, Jackson not only personifies everything African-American, but is also the ultimate liberal voice of the millennium. Naturally, the commentator hates Jackson’s guts and harps on him constantly. But O’Reilly’s disgust at Jackson’s existence borders on comic, because it’s so obvious that Bill really loves Jesse. O’Reilly is most in his element when he’s screaming, and Jackson is his favorite scapegoat. If Jesse suddenly woke up one day and decided to be just like Bill, O’Reilly would have to retire.

And by now, everyone knows about Jerry Falwell’s homophobic tirade against the purple Teletubby. Silly, yes, but consider that Falwell has spent much time with Tinky Winky on the brain. At some point his wife probably said, “Jerry, dear! For the 83rd time, will you stop rewinding the tape and go to sleep!”

But true hatred is never, ever funny.

Think about Fred Phelps, the reverend who heads the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. He also runs the infamous “God Hates Fags” web site, which offers such pleasantries as “Matthew Shepard has been in Hell for 1,845 days.” The adjective “anti-gay” does not begin to describe the level of hatred spewed by this man. Though Phelps’ site targets all homosexuals and their friends, the preacher has a particular affinity for Shepard. An openly gay Wyoming college student, Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die on a fencepost on Oct. 7, 1998, dying five days later. His killers: two couples who had picked him up for a ride, allegedly with the intent to kill him.

Horrendous as the details of this murder are, they pale in comparison to the sheer single-mindedness of Phelps’ mission. The reverend is not content to merely air his views on homosexuality; his intent seems to be to harass Shepard for all eternity. Phelps’ site hosts what he calls the “Perpetual Gospel Memorial to Matthew Shepard,” which holds the exclusive “Matthew Shepard message from Hell.” But for the busy homophobe, Phelps has boiled it down to one phrase that can be heard by pointing the cursor at the image of Matt’s head in a flame: “Aooow! For God’s sake, listen to Phelps!!!” The voice, said to belong to Phelps himself, must be heard to be disbelieved. But little else can be expected from a man who is quoted as saying, “Yes, I suppose I am a minister of hate.”

Protesters for numerous causes also raise the love-hate question. I definitely believe in freedom of speech, but seeing protest signs with hacked fetuses and ripped animal carcasses makes me wonder about the thought process involved in making signs like that. Do they make them over lunch? I have to know.

Overall, I believe in the humanity that exists in everyone. And I say, love the hater but hate the hate and…oops, almost forgot one…

Republicans hating Clinton, 24/7. Enough said!


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