Ben Hsu

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Bad Neighbors

There was a moment near the end of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, a surprisingly good documentary about Fred Rogers, that really struck me. Near the end of the movie, during Mr. Rogers’ funeral, they show footage of protestors at the funeral holding signs claiming, “God Hates Fags!” and “Fred Rogers Will Burn In Hell!” During an interview section one of Mr. Rogers’ friends said that they went over to talk to the protestors and try to sort things out because, “that’s what Fred would have done.” The protestors’ reply (according to the interviewee) was “we hate Fred Rogers because he tolerated gays.”

That reply really chilled me because that is some crazy ass, second order hate. It’s not just that they hate gays, they hate gays so much that they hate anyone and anything even vaguely associated with gays. I’ll give you an example of how crazy this is to me, and I’ll go ahead and use sex since the very concept of anything besides hetero-missionary position seems to irk these people. I hate scat, the thought of fecal matter being involved in sexual intercourse is a complete turn off to me. But I don’t hate people who are into scat, because someone else’s sex life is none of my business, as long as it’s happening between consenting adults taking proper precautions it, doesn’t effect me in anyway. Nor do I hate people who don’t really have an opinion on scat, because…that makes no sense to me, I’m not even sure how scat is involved with my relation to this other person. But that’s what these people have done, they not only hate gays, but they hate anyone that doesn’t actively hate gays with them.

I’m honestly not sure what to do about this mindset. Growing up I was taught not to hate, which is a hard thing to do considering I spend most of my time in a mood that’s some combination of angry and depressed. But once I was out of my teens I noticed that acting on your hate tends to cause others to retaliate in hate, and you just end up with a whole Hatfields Vs McCoys situation. It’s better, so I’ve learned, to talk it out, meet people halfway, and come up with some sort of compromise. It’s true neither side gets exactly what they want, but neither side ends up dead. But that works on the assumption that both sides can at least be calmed down enough to listen. Instead, we have a group of people that is offended by the very existence of someone, and that offense is so strong that anyone who has even affiliated with the “offensive” person is considered a pariah.

So what do you do against that kind of mindset? I personally don’t have to interact with these people, but the knowledge that they’re out there is very frightening and baffling to me, and I’m afraid for the people who DO have to interact with them. I’d like to say there’s a happy ending to this blog piece and I’ve figure it out, but there isn’t and I haven’t. Honestly, I’m writing this in the hopes that someone has an answer. Fred Rogers believed that, “Love is at the heart of all things, love or lack of it.” I think it’s a good outlook on life, but what do you do when people are so full of hate that they won’t let you even try to love them?

Blog · Essay · Nonfiction

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