This week’s issue of Seven Days (the local free paper here in Burlington, VT) did a cover story on “Mr. Happy” entitled, “The Hate Debate.” Also known by his given name (John Long), he is the producer of “How Do You Like Me Now?” on VCAM Channel 15 public access. In essence, his show serves as a vehicle for his views on, largely, race and politics — and he’s certainly not one to pull punches or sanitize his views for what he would refer to as the “leftist/liberal agenda” around him, particularly in Vermont. He’s also an avowed racist and supporter of the Iraq War — facts that often raise the ire of Vermont’s more vocal opponents to his views and all things unfluffy. And, of course, there’s all of that knee-jerk reaction to his showing of terrorist execution videos. Knowing that, here is my take on the article, the topic, and surrounding aspects of both, purely for fun and sport…
For me, there is no “hate debate.” A term such as “hate speech” is, by and large, used by people as a transparent euphemism for speech that they just don’t happen to like, or merely offends them. Moreover, it’s always “the enemy” that hates. Never “the victim.” Right. The smugness and conceit of this position would be almost amusing if it wasn’t so pervasive.
This is where Long stands above a lot of his detractors. He lays his hate square on the table, which is both honest and admirable to a degree. Conversely, many of his opponents couch theirs in safe rhetoric and loads of spin. Admit it, you cowards — you HATE him, you HATE his views, and you HATE his show. If you feel it, then fess up to the emotion. Enough of this hypocritical and passive-aggressive claptrap.
As for the “hate speech leads to hate crime” argument, spare me. Even if we are to entertain just what constitutes hate speech and what doesn’t (and without your personal agendas dictating a “one size fits all” paradigm), the stale assertion that media “makes” people do things is not only bogus, but it throws personal responsibility out the window. More specifically, Mr. Long is responsible for his own actions — not yours, not that of your neighbors, and not that of (potentially poorly-reared) children. Whether it was heavy metal records of the 1980s somehow not resulting in the suicides of millions of teenagers or modern hip hop faltering in its perceived duty to turn every suburban youth into a murderous machine, we’ve heard this all before (from the Right, and the Left), and it just doesn’t pan out. Yes, troubled people exist. But, it isn’t some public access show producer’s job to help you raise your kids or walk on proverbial eggshells so mentally disturbed people will stay on their meds and not blow people away from a clocktower. Say it with me, people: “I am not my brother’s keeper.”
A crime is a crime is a crime. It needs no “hate” qualifier. There are laws on the books that say that if you walk up to someone and assault them for reasons outside of self-defense, then that is a crime. If you spraypaint swastikas on the local synagogue, that’s vandalism and trespassing — TWO crimes there. However, once you tack the “H” word onto it, then you’re treading on Orwellian territory. Funny, but I would think it more productive to enforce the existing laws than to waste time arguing over whether Mr. Happy’s views are “right” or “wrong.” His views are HIS. Maybe not YOURS. Get over it.
Oh, and that “[Burlington is] a community that celebrates… religious diversity” bit? Believe me when I say that I am an EXTREMELY qualified individual for calling foul on that little nugget o’ nonsense. What often touts itself as “diversity” (notably in this town, since it is where I live and can speak about it) is really just “limited choice.” The masses are all for “freedom” — but not “too much.” Save that one legitimate bastion of actual diversity in this town (read: VCAM), SD’s persistent attempt to shine its own Goodguy Badge (as coined by Dr. LaVey) in the face of “controversy” is truly a sight to behold, and its very leftist and liberal leanings are certainly not Mr. Happy’s imagination. They’re in there. Every week. Does that matter to me? No, but whether or not that matters to me shouldn’t matter to you either way. Get your own darn opinion.
Believe it or not, there are people in Vermont and elsewhere who have chosen not to like me very much for rather inaccurate and self-adopted reasons. I know, it’s SO hard to believe, but, yes, they’re out there. And I get all sorts of nasty, negative, and even threatening e-mail. But, somehow, I don’t cop martyrdom and scream about all of the “hate speech” I get in my IN box. Instead, I realized (long ago) a simple fact about the human condition that seems so lost on so many: You do NOT have the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist. In fact, I guarantee that you WILL be offended, and you WILL offend, intentionally or nay. No “enemies,” no “victims,” no “good,” no “evil” here — merely the clashing of opposing or competing wills. Erect all of the “peace coalitions” and “justice centers” you want. Nothing will change the fact that conflict is eternal and its end product will be balm to some, irritant to others.
Plus — and here’s the real kicker for some — maybe Long is actually dead-on about certain points he makes. Oh, the horror. I’m not talking about the ad hominem, subjective, invective-laced stuff. But maybe he’s actually unearthed both unpopular and astute observations concerning the socio-political climate, in the Unites States and in Vermont. There’s a glaring aspect to the common oppositional relation to this guy that is so excessively knee-jerk and blanket dismissive, that it merely proves, yet again, the truth of the many needing their stock scapegoats to quell their fears, make them feel a little more self-righteous or “safe,” and, most importantly, to obtain a semblance of contrived power in their lives. They need their bogeymen, their causes, and, dare I say it, their Satans. And, while I’m not whitewashing the man, nor am I denying that he might possess some stock scapegoats of his own, it has been apparent that the WAY in which some of his critics respond to him is far more telling about their insecurities, their frail reliances, and their one-sided acceptance of the First Amendment than they’re willing to let on. Scratch an “activist” and you sometimes reveal a closet (or not so closet) dictator.
If interested, there is also a discussion of this article going on via Candleblog. Click here to check that out if still available.
I’ll end this with a quote from CoS High Priest, Peter H. Gilmore, since it seems to fit so perfectly with the post: “We must cultivate a neo-Darwinian arena wherein opinions may clash in the bright glare of mid-day, light glinting off sabre-sharp tongues which slash against the armor of cultivated wit and erudition in a true conflict of rip-roaring reparteé. We expect to see the sands stained crimson and will be ready to wield our discrimination boldly, without stint, to either raise a thumb in approval or give the sign of rejection.”