In which circumstances is hatred of a category/class of people permissible?

There seems to be broad consensus, if not in society at large, then at least on the SDMB, that permissible hatred of people runs along a spectrum of sorts: It is wrong to hate people for their race/gender/religion, etc., but on the other end it is OK or at least not wrong to hate people for certain actions, behavior or words (i.e., being a serial killer, being a Nazi, being a KKK member, etc.)
Now, where exactly, in the middle, is the line?
Is it OK to hate someone for their political beliefs? Their scientific views? Their (non-genocidal, non-racist, but offensive) speech? Their life philosophy?

What, exactly, do you mean by “OK?”

It’s 100% legal to hate anybody, anytime, any reason. You wanna hate short people, Jews, smokers, print-shop-attendants, or guys with small hands? That’s “OK.” You get to. Nobody in the world is going to compel you to give that up.

Saying things about it? Still legal in the U.S., so long as you don’t cross into incitement.

Are there groups who have so little support, you won’t get much in the way of chiding for sneering at them? Hell yes. Politicians, lawyers, used-car-salesmen, those bastards who phone you at home right in the dinner hour, terrorists, lots of others.

Here on the SDMB, it’s pretty much “OK” to say really rotten things about scientific creationists or Relativity-Deniers. Pop up here and try to argue that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays and sonnets, and you’ll get some shit spread over you. (Polite shit, in keeping with the rules. But you will get shit.)

Your question isn’t super clear. (I hate people who ask unclear questions…) (Um… Thass supposeda be a joke…)

Cite that a “consensus” on the SDMB actually does consider “hatred of a category/class of people” morally or ethically “permissible”?

There’s no question that many Dopers have publicly stated their hatred of particular individuals and groups whose views they disapprove of. Hating other people is a natural human failing, and there’s no reason to expect Dopers to be immune to it. And, of course, there’s nothing immoral or unethical about disapproving of or criticizing views you consider immoral or unethical.

But I’m not seeing any actual explicit SDMB endorsement of the act of hatred per se.


Lots of people would consider hatred of a class understandable when the class is, say, Nazis. But it doesn’t follow that they consider it ethical. Judeo-Christian morality is clear about the fact that hatred is never ethical (“Love your enemies, and do go to them that persecute you”) and, while obviously not everybody in the western world subscribes to Judeo-Christian belief or ethics, they have been pretty influential in shaping contemporary Western ethical positions.

So I wouldn’t assume that there is an ethical consensus that hatred is ever justified. Or, at any rate, that there is a coherent understanding about this. People might share a belief that hatred of a class can be ethically justified in the right circumstances, but have no common position on what those circumstances are.

Well, it is kind of extreme, but I don’t think you’re going to find many here (or anywhere) who will defend terrorists. It’s pretty much “OK” to hate them. (It’s very, very hard not to!)

Bit circular, that one, since “terrorist” tends to be a label we only apply to those we hate. People aligned with us who adopt similar tactics are less likely to be called “terrorists”.

I believe the line is drawn between what you can (at least in theory) change, and what you cannot.

It’s OK to blame someone for being a liberal, a nazi or a catholic. These are merely opinions; and one could always hope for the subject to make amendments…

It’s not OK to blame someone for their sexual preference, skin color or ethnicity. How could they change that?

Not everyone hates all Americans, though most hate the imperial entitlement / exceptionalism of the ruling class.

Well, there are things a person/group can’t help and it’s probably wrong to blame them for that. For example, you can’t pick which country you were born in. You can’t choose your nationality or your parents’ religion which you probably started off in and may very well practice yourself. You didn’t choose your race. You didn’t choose your gender identity. You didn’t choose how much money your parents have or what neighborhood you grew up in.

So that sort of thing is mostly off the table here.

You do choose your own actions and to a slightly lesser degree your own reactions. You choose to or choose NOT to accept responsibility for your actions and decisions. I think it’s okay to nail folks for that.

But is it OK to hate somebody for being a democrat or a humanist or a stoic or a generous supporter of the disadvantaged? These are all things they could change.

I think it has to be more than just “a characteristic you can change”. Otherwise hating Jews as a race would be a no-no, but hating Jews as a religion (“You can avoid our anti-semitic legislation by simply converting to Christianity!”) would be ethical. And I’m sure that’s not what you mean.

I am not sure you can readily lump religion with political opinion. Most people in the world consider their religion/denomination not as a choice you can make arbitrarily but as something that comes packaged with being born into a particular ethnicity or family.

It’s not wrong to hate a religion. Religious thoughts and actions should be no more immune to criticism than secular thoughts and actions. Somebody whose religious thoughts drive them to give money to a criminal enterprise like Scientology, mutilate the genitals of infants like Judaism or just flat out murder people like the Mayans is still contemptible even if they try to shift the blame to some fictional character or another.

I see no ethical problem with disliking (I would, indeed, like to reserve the word “hate” for very strong levels of dislikement!) Judaism as a religion. As a matter of fact, I strongly dislike the male genital mutilation which most times comes with it.

So your economical and political views do not?

Actions, behavior, and words aren’t categories of people. I don’t think anyone here really thinks it okay to hate “categories of people”, though they might use that terminology as short hand for disagreement with a commonly grouped set of beliefs. Lazy speech, really.

But, to answer your question, I would say the line where other people are [likely to be] hurt. If a political party, school of scientific thought, or religion holds that a specific group of people are inferior and should be denied certain rights or punished for activities that others are allowed, then it is acceptable to condemn the organization and the individual supporters, although hate is too strong a word.

It’s still lazy. I just described most religions and historical schools of thought, and probably a lot of political parties, and I don’t think most people think it okay to hate everybody.

Maybe we should be more scrupulous, and speak of hating ideas or actions or specific individuals rather than groups; lazy speech promotes to lazy thinking.

Isn’t murder an unlawful killing?

No, or not nearly as much. Most people in the world consider themselves free agents in politics while belonging to a religion as a matter of course.

Well, in some societies apostasy is regarded as a crime, and punishable (sometimes by death!). But apart from those, I can only attribute this feeling to the burden of some centuries-old taboo.
On the other hand, I have the feeling that it would, indeed, be less frowned upon if some English lord would convert from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism than if he would abandon his former conservative capitalist views in favor of Marxism-Leninism.

There are two considerations:

  1. Do they live in Illinois?

  2. Are they Nazis?

If both 1 and 2 are true, then you may hate them.

I cannot agree with this, at least not as I tend to use, and see others use, the word hate. Sure, denotatively, hate is just an intense dislike, but when we talk about hate, particularly in terms of race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. it tends to carry a connotation of seeing those people as somehow either less than human or at least less than equal to one’s own class, and thus either deserving some some form of violence, coercion, inhumane treatment, loss of rights, or whatever. Fundamentally, we’re all human, and we deserve the same level of rights and protection.

That’s not to say that all people and all actions are judged as equal. I think we should judge the actions of people, and that if one harms or intends to harm others, regardless of the motivation, it is fundamentally only the manifestation in physical reality of whatever underlying thoughts, beliefs, or philosophies that we can meaningfully judge. As such, I do not hate Nazis, as people, what I hate is Nazism, Fascism, racism, as philosophies, because they lead directly to violence, coercion, harm, or whatever of other people. I do not hate them, because they are still people and I want to change their minds and, if not, prevent or minimize to the greatest degree that I can their ability to hurt others. If I aim to cause them harm, even if only causing harm to those who cause others harm, that’s only that much marginally better.

Scientific views, for example, don’t make a person fundamentally bad. Yes, anti-evolutionism is empirically false, but what do I gain by hating the person that holds that view? How is that going to change their opinion, or others that might be sympathetic to it, or yet others who might be harmed by those views? Attack those views through debate, through knowledge, through demonstration. If we just blindly hate, we create enemies, digging in their heals fighting feeling persecuted. If we can find ways to reach out, we can often, though not always, find some common ground.

That is, we have to realize that, even with empirically false beliefs, generally those people aren’t aiming to cause harm; most people aren’t acting with malice in their heart UNLESS they’re acting out of hate. Particularly when it comes to something like scientific, political, or religious beliefs, they resist or push forward because they don’t well understand opposing views, they’ve not been properly exposed to them and encouraged to really think through and accept or deny them on their own merits, or they have historical, sentimental, traditional, aesthetic, or other reasons to hold onto them. Humans are inherently irrational.

As a simple example, I’ve found common ground between people who strongly belief on both sides of the climate change debate. Fighting over whether it is real or not is intractable, but we can all agree that pollution, wasting resources, particularly non-renewable ones, etc. are things that we need to address. Obviously, there’s still a debate about how best to address that, but I’m not sure there’s a “right” answer there in the same way that there is as far as agreeing that we, as a society, need to start taking action toward the environment.

If, instead, I just expended energy hating people who hold an opposing ignorant view on that matter, how does that improve the situation? Sure, I may be right, I may be backed by scientific consensus and general opinion and research papers and whatever else, but… so what? Being RIGHT doesn’t change the world, influence does, else so many people with so many terrible beliefs wouldn’t be so enticing to hate in the first place.

And as for disliking people, that’s bound to happen. You’re not going to get along with everyone, but we can at least strive to respect people. And even if they do happen to have some differing immutable aspect from yourself, like race or gender or sexuality, realizing that people are defined by their actions, it should be meaningless. Obviously, being human, we’ll not be able to live up to such an ideal, but we can still try.

Certainly none of the practicing Christians on this MB hates anyone. Right? Or at least they aim not to.

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

My personal preference:

  1. The thing I hate them for must be something they chose. One can choose to be a Nazi, one can’t choose to be black. If its something they are born with, I generally feel we shouldn’t hate them.

  2. If the vast majority of them behave in a similar way. People hate Muslims because they think they’re terrorists, forgetting that in a population of a billion people, a few hundred or thousand are all the ones that’s ever been known to support terrorism. But if a group’s membership is mostly composed of terrorists, then its ok to hate that group even if there are some who don’t support terrorism.

  3. If they deny reality and facts. Everyone’s free to have an opinion, but a belief based on fact can be deemed accurate or inaccurate. “Red is the best color” is an opinion. “Black people are stupider than white people” is a belief based on something. If the facts fly against your beliefs and you still choose not to accept it, then you have little buffer against being hated.

There’s probably more, but these are the main ideas I follow.

Incidentally, this is why I can’t stand conservatives. If we accept that about 40% of people are liberal, 40% are conservative, and 20% are true independents, then given that whoever is put up as the GOP nominee will probably get at least 40% of the vote, then we can assume that the vast majority of those who chose to be Republicans and actively deny things like global warming are worthy of contempt