Damn that old-time jazz exhorting us never to hate. Parents and preacher men are quite right to inculcate in us the will power to transcend racial, social, and sexual barriers, but they are quite wrong when they encourage us to unconditionally forgive and forget. Good people should not be afraid to hate genuinely evil people. I contend that, at the very least, an individual who intentionally and remorselessly inflicts unwanted suffering on another sentient being counts as genuinely evil. Consider some candidates:
In a 29 April 2002 article for the BBC, Flora Botsford reported on a hitherto unchecked practice involving the cruel execution of “tens of thousands” of Spanish hunting dogs at the end of hunting season. While top performing dogs had their necks swiftly broken, they also were hanged low off the ground to writhe in agony for the amusement of their killers.
In a 9 December 2002 article, the World Society for the Protection of Animals reported on the surfacing of videos showing Peruvian soldiers conducting training exercises involving dogs:
“After diving through a hoop of fire, [the soldiers] charge at a dog that is tied, spread-eagled, between two vertical poles. The men then take turns to slash and stab the dog, as it yelps and struggles to escape. This continues until the dog dies. It is then torn to pieces and bits of it eaten.”
In a January 14th 2003 article, the BBC reported on the killing of a dog in Jordan that was trained to carry messages between young lovers. The canine got its head smashed with a stone by an angry gentleman who intercepted a marriage proposal for his love-struck sister.
This last story mostly reflects on stupidly conservative views about premarital intimacy held by tight-assed patriarchs across the Middle East and beyond, but like the others, it definitely speaks in a very profound way to the sheer disrespect that people have for beings that exemplify loyalty and honesty, virtues that routinely escape humans.
Can we appropriately hate such people for subjecting dogs to hanging, slashing, and smashing? Perhaps evildoers don’t know any better. Perhaps evildoers did not receive affection during infancy. Perhaps their behavior is a function of their upbringing, which reflects decidedly pathetic social norms. To borrow from the preacher man, perhaps it would be morally appropriate for us to hate the sin (the decidedly pathetic social norm) and not the sinner.
I’m left to wonder if a distinction really exists between the mind of society and the mind of the individual. And I find it hard to believe that something as universally unloved as suffering can be innocently applied to anything capable of experiencing it. I fear that its incessant application makes the very possibility of progress illusory. So why shouldn’t I be filled with hatred?
R.S. Jolly is a senior majoring in philosophy.