Hate as Opposed to Ignorance

by Jacob Gill

Hatred; ignorance: is there a difference and does it matter? Lately, especially with the rise of the so-called “bathroom bills” after North Carolina’s controversial ordinance, I have heard these words tossed from both sides of the aisle like mortars shelling foes of their zealous warpath. The problem is very few seem to understand what they mean in context. Thus, I have set out to make a few facts clear.

Many individuals call out all who support the attempts on the part of state legislatures to regulate transgender rights as the facilitators of discrimination. Protestants claim, subsequently, that these individuals “hate” those whom they seek to limit (As a personal note I do not support or condone the implementation of these laws. They *are* unrealistic. They *are* cruel. They *are* wrong.) However, just as ignorant is the claim that all of their defendants disregard such opinions because of some latent bigotry. I have long held the -perhaps naive- notion that the best way to combat prejudice is through education, not conflict. Which leads to my first point.

Ignorance does not always indicate hatred. Fear, yes. Misunderstanding, yes. But hatred? No. Ignorance shows a lack of initiative.

We, all of us as humans, often do not realize this. Our instincts tell us that if someone levels a spear at us, we should reciprocate in kind. It is unfortunate then that we have come to the point where an ill-thought statement weighs the same as a bronze blade. Each side feels wronged. Both claim moral rectitude. And so we get our common time, where mothers take their children into Target, hoist Bibles over their heads and compare transgendered individuals to the devil that will “rape our daughters.” We get to the point where holding the door for a member of the opposite sex can be deemed gender-based “condescension” as opposed to “just being nice.” We get to the point where doctrines of love and understanding are substituted with stones, torches and pitchforks. Indeed it does seem the words of Albert Einstein ring true: “only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity… and I am not so sure about the former.” Which brings to mind another saying. “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity” by Nick Diamos.

This is what these two claims bid us remember: people are fools. It is not our nature to be otherwise. We can not turn a blind eye to this fact, yet neither should we deem ourselves superior to such, for in that way we fall into the same trap.

When asked what issue Rachael Rice, a fellow writer for the Paw Print, personally felt strongly about she chose the extent of workplace discrimination regarding the “modesty” of employees lacking tattoos or piercings. After then being asked how she would feel if a parent came up to her and told her she was a delinquent or stupid or even insinuated these notions due to her own piercings, Rachel took a long pause. She answered that she would walk away from the parent, but felt as though “that is the same kind of person who tells their children to not judge a book by its cover.” In essence, she concluded, “They do not practice what they teach.”

This correspondent fired back -admittedly unfairly, considering her reply lined almost exactly on par with that of most any sane individual- was she not then doing exactly what the parent was? Was she not “judging a book by its cover?”

It was only later, interviewing Andrew Murray, junior and member of the Oakdale Model United Nations, that this train of thought came full circle. Murray has had an interest in political/ social constructs since the 2004 election and said that he knows it is “very easy to see things a certain way if you do not actively exercise curiosity.” Murray expressed concern over “the pluralization of the media,” noting how American society actively encourages holding a single, stalwart viewpoint.

“If you just watch -or if you were brought up watching- and reading Fox News or, on the other side of the spectrum, NBC, you are obviously not going to be exposed to contrary viewpoints.” For this reason, he added, while it might be “a lot harder” to be ignorant in today’s society, it is “still fairly simple.” After all, it requires no work on the part of the primary party.

“Hatred is when you should know better,” Murray said. “However, when you say that you hold knowledge on an issue, you need to understand the opposing argument. Ignorance is no excuse in such a case.”

How does one educate oneself: “Well,” Murray shook his head, shrugging his shoulders, “For starters, take a look at yourself. Try to understand your views from someone else’s eyes.”

So why go through all this effort? A reader will not change something about himself because of an article. Rather, what must be sought, is that he or she would *notice* their own ignorance. Notice it, because once one realizes that he or she may be foolish, not hateful, one can begin to understand how others could be so misguided. There is hate in this world, far too much, which is why it’s about time to stop manufacturing it.

Everyone is ignorant, yet that does not make us hateful; it makes us human.