Hate Speech and Play-doh

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Hate Speech reminds me of play-doh.

(Was that just hate speech against play-doh I heard?)

No. Let me continue.

When we were young and had more than five free minutes in the day, my brother, sister, and I would gather around our favorite plastic table and dish out the play-do. This was not an event like to the redistribution of wealth in a perfect economic state. Rather, because I was the oldest and therefore in charge,  it resembled Stalin the dictator assigning peasants to plots of Russian soil that they may farm and make it fertile for him. My brother and sister knew that the play-doh, although I let them look at it, was still in no ways theirs and must return to her from whence it came.

“Here, you can have the green.” I would say in a bout of generosity, my halo shining bright above my head.

“But, I don’t want the green. There’s only a little bit. ”

This was true; the green had long ago become a species of the carpet forest and the little that had made it back into the container was slightly bigger than a cherry tomato.

“That’s a lot. You get the green or you don’t get anything.” Then with cold spite, ” You don’t have to play with us.” And I turned back to my three containers of play-doh, happy to have once more kept the peace.

Unless my sister did not want peace and decided to protest against the fascist government by running to our mom.

“She is only giving me a little bit!”

(Ha ha, you think, now mom comes and vanquishes the tyrant and world harmony is achieved.)

Fool-haven’ t you read history?! The tyrant is always succeeded by another tyrant. My little self, silenced and forced to give up play-doh once, tries again to dominate and again for the third time.

Of course, finally, my mom has had enough of it and she tells us to be quiet. “Grand silence ” she calls it or “You have lost your right to speak” , depending on whether she was at that moment running our house as a monastery or as a jail.

(What horror! She forbade rational humans the right to free speech. This requires bold and decisive action: Let’s make a new episode of Saturday Night Live mocking this conduct!)

But what about hate speech? Aren’t the things I said to my sister hate speech since one could possibly find a streak of selfish hate running through them and since she was offended by them? And the things she said (or at least thought) probably would have offended me. Hate speech everywhere!

That is why my mom silenced us.  Because hate speech which forgets its subjectivity becomes a hate regime.

We too will be silenced unless we can tolerate the mean and sometimes offensive comments of others. Because, too often, the problem lies with us. If I,as a Christian, am “offended ” by someone wearing a burka to show they believe in Mohammed, the offense lies with me and is in my eye. What is offensive to me is not universally offensive. Likewise, I would not want to be deemed “offensive” by wearing a cross because again the offense would be in the eye of the beholder. It is he who does not believe in the cross and in this county he does not have to wear it. Whether I am offended or the offender, I must keep my subjective view of hate out of the lives of other it does not concern.

(And, no, nobody is concerned about what you hate. So don’t riot and make their lives miserable because of it.)Problems? Contact UsBegin a Discussion

But when everything that offends us offends the entire universe,then there is not one thing on this planet which will not be found offensive. Then, before every plant, menorah, and piece of cheese is destroyed, someone will have to step in like my mom did and tell us all to be quiet. If you cannot be politely offended by something, then you will not be able to say you are offended at all.

You have lost the right to hate if you cannot figure out your hate without taking it out on other people. You have been silenced. I have taken your play-doh.

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