Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The freedom to hate

Don't you hate it when there are moments in which you knew the right word/term/phrase to describe the events/episodes?

For example, over dinner today, I was wondering under which classification of "logic" the following fell:

Wife: (Dinner's) so expensive. We could use the money to buy books.
Me: But you don't buy books.
Wife: Because they're (books are) expensive.

So what do you call this conversation/logic? My mind is blank. It probably go along the lines of:

Person A: Don't waste water when you bathe. You could water the plants with the amount that you have wasted.
Person B: But you don't own any plants.
Person A: Because I save water.

Maybe it's some off-tangent cross-talk humour. The "reasoner" creates a statement with a justification, using another example, and the attention is refocused onto the item/example discussed in the justification. It's simply quite entertaining.

Onto today's topic. I have read a few books on Marilyn Manson, the persona, the act and the band, as well as his autobiography. Yes, I bought the books and they were not cheap. He sees a problem with American society, that it obsessively embraces political correctness and suppresses hate speech.

On the surface, it seems fine, because people, groups and even individuals (who have their own beliefs) have made themselves vulnerable to being offended. An offended person or group will often seek redress with various types of action and reaction. This upsets any predisposed definitions of "harmony" and "peace".

But in suppressing hate speech, seen as an expression of hatred, a feeling deemed by Manson as real and as legitimate as love, people seek other means to expressing hate. The more permissible (but still probably offensive) means of the expression of hate are destroyed and cordoned off: These include art, music, literature, speech, performance, and other metaphorical and symbolic expressions/parallels of hate. Of course, in Singapore, there is no market for or career in the arts and entertainment, which constitutes one form of "suppression".

How then do people express hate? Some bottle it up. Some express it physically and that is when lives are endangered or taken. After all, hate (to some) is an emotion.

Sometimes it is difficult to discuss an issue such as the "freedom of speech" because to whose freedom is the speech directed? Who becomes freed, more free or un-free?

Considering the rhetoric of responsible speech in the discourse of the freedom of speech, do such advocates actually seek to place restrictions on the notion of freedom and speaking? In this case, such "responsibility" in responsible speech benefits whom and threatens whom?

So why can't we hate and have the freedom to express our hate? To sanction hate is hatred itself for it restricts hatred with suppression and oppression.

If emotions are bits and pieces of our characters, which are subsets of our individual and identity, why are some emotions and expressions suppressed? Is the suppression causing us to think and act the way we are now?

The hater and the hated, or the offender and the offended, have a symbiotic relationship, an interdependent and special bond.

The hater may have been offended into hating.

The hater or offender may just hate.

The offended, on the other hand, needs hate and offence, to qualify and self-identify as offended. To be offended is a reaction. To hate is to act and/or to react.

The basis for a person being offended is his/her individual and group identity, his/her esteem, ideology and beliefs. Without strong and rigid expectations of what healthy and good and morally correct esteem and ideologies should be, how then would be the susceptibility of one being offended?

Hatred may be against a system, a morality, a reasoning, an identity, an aesthetic, so on. Hatred may be the rational or irrational antithesis to the specific thesis.

Unfortunately, there is a system in place that protects the thesis, putting in place a structure which suppresses the antithesis from interacting with the thesis, and forming a synthesis. What we get is continuity, rather than (re)invention, innovation, reflexivity, (r)evolution, change.

In continuity, the power elite retain their political and ideological dominance.

Well, how we deal with hate and hate speech is another topic altogether. What I am focusing on is the manner in which hate is suppressed by us and people around us. The domain of hate is confined to specific areas whereby the public can see how "bad" and unhealthy it is, for example villains in movies, criminals in jail, executed terrorists and so on.

When the speaker of hate gets beaten by a mob which has reacted to his/her speech, who then is wrong? Who then is right? Who has more hate? Who has expressed more hate?

Isn't it weird we are a society that regulates love (censors sex and love scenes in the media, tell scientifically untrue tales to children about the birds and the bees) but permits violence through various media (the news, television, movies, books and so on)?

So, is hate then a symptom of ideology? Is there a belief we hold that affects the balance of our worry, fear, anxiety, grief, enjoy, etc.? Does hate derive from the imbalance of such a belief?

What if we discarded such a belief? Won't the powerful, who have invested so heavily in sustaining this belief in our psyche, now be fearful of the new "non-believer"? In discarding a belief, one acquires a different kind of "knowledge", which now governs one's attitude and behaviour. Now, doesn't that threaten the powerful since the powerful cannot cope with such different episteme?

Assume we are all string puppets. Even though some strings can be severed, others remain. The puppeteer will jerk and pull harder to compensate for the severed strings, and the puppet will be in greater pain (due to greater imbalance of support).

If the puppet totally severs himself/herself from the puppeteer, cutting all strings, conventional knowledge (the fear the puppeteer put into the puppet) follows that the puppet will be lifeless, immobile and incapable.

However, being lifeless, immobile and incapable are only to the benefit and disadvantage to the puppeteer, not the puppet. What about seeing it from the puppet's point of view? Although lifeless, immobile and incapable towards the puppeteer, the puppet may not be such to himself/herself. In the end, the puppeteer needs the puppet, but the puppet may not necessarily need the puppeteer.

Back to hate, hate is a dominant discourse that has been turned into a subversive discourse, hence not seen as politically correct. If love and understanding can be counter-dominant or subversive, why can't hate be dominant?

Well, I have not, will not and can not share my personal view on hate and matters discussed above, as I am firstly not obliged to say so and secondly do not want to offend any one. I must stress that such deductions, inductions, reasonings, derivations, reductions and perhaps generalisations have their limitations and flaws. But flaws give more impetus for continual thinking.

No comments: