Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Right to Hate

Stumbling around on the Web this morning, I happened on some YouTube clips of Tom Lehrer performing in 1967 for an apparently Norwegian audience, probably for television. I'm a longtime fan of Lehrer, have had his albums for decades and play several of his songs myself, on my six-string piano (to turn around a joke he made in the introduction to "Folk Song Army"). "National Brotherhood Week" was one of the first I learned, and like so many of his political songs from the sixties, it's still pertinent. You can see him playing it for the Norwegians here. I was going to embed it for this post and leave it at that, but then this afternoon I found a link to this post (via) at a blog called First Draft. From there I navigated to this post, "The Right to Hate."

The post was not a declaration of the blogger's right to hate, which might have been interesting. It dealt with a harangue by a Republican Congressman from Texas, Louis Gohmert, against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill. I haven't watched the YouTube clip, but there's a partial transcript in the First Draft post, which closed by saying that people like Gohmert are "never sorry for these kind of statements, or the resulting (understandable) outrage and media coverage. It's how they do business, and the stakes here are high: their right to hate as they see fit."

I see a problem here. Just as many people have trouble distinguishing between rape and consensual copulation, many people have trouble distinguishing between hate and violence. Of course Gohmert has the right to hate as he sees fit, just as liberals do. I daresay the commenter whose loving reaction to Gohmert was "Methinks it's time for retro-active abortion" considers herself a liberal, for example.

Another commenter argued, in response to my own comment, that "a US Congressman speaking in Congress about pending legislation doesn't have the luxury of being 'an individual.' Public servants using public forums and laws to enforce or spread their own bias isn't legit. (yeah, obv. it happens anyway) Louie Gohmert the private citizen can jaw all he wants to his friends down at the hardware store about hating queers. As you say, he has that right. But Congressman Gohmert shouldn't have the right to legislate based on his private feelings/religion/etc."

I don't think that Gohmert was speaking as 'an individual' -- he was speaking as a Christian (apparently he also indulged in a reading from the first chapter of Romans), and he was surely pandering as a politician to his constituency back in Texas. For that matter, in the material quoted in the posting, Gohmert did not say that he 'hated queers'; he spoke against "the ultimate hate monger" Hitler, whom Gohmert apparently didn't know was anti-gay and sent homosexuals to the death camps. I am sure, in fact, that if you asked him, Louie Gohmert would protest that he loves homosexuals and wants us to be freed from our supposed sin. Just as Rick Warren loves us, and every other Christian antigay bigot does. Talking about "hate" in this context is a distraction, as usual. A little honest hate would be refreshing, instead of all this posturing.