I’m guilty.

I have used the word “hate” in this blog when I should have used a softer word, such as “dislike.”

I suppose it is easy to feel hated when someone dislikes you. But hate is a very powerful word, and it is difficult to know if someone’s dislike for you is “an intense, passionate dislike,” as hate is so defined.

So, I think we need to give people the benefit of the doubt, until proven otherwise. Homophobes, transphobes, racists and the like don’t necessarily hate, though we could be talking about a thin line between dislike and hate.

Yes, I am splitting hairs now. But I have been guilty of generalizing here at times with the word “hate” when maybe the people I was thinking about haven’t taken their dislike to that level.

Again, a thin line, I know, and it all ultimately comes from the same wellspring. Still, we shouldn’t presume the worst, like John Lennon did, perhaps, in the song Working Class Hero: “They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool.”

“Hate” and “despise” are probably a little too strong there.

It gets a little murkier still with the term “hate speech,” and that may be part of the reason the word hate appears so often these days.

Reports Wikipedia: “The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or which disparage or intimidate a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. … Additionally, in some countries, including the United States, much of what falls under the category of “hate speech” is constitutionally protected.”

Clearly, there is no clear definition of hate and hate speech. What may feel like hate to some may feel like dislike to others. Some people fall back on the freedom of speech rationale so they can invalidate others, and it sure feels like hate to those being invalidated. It hurts them, and the intent really is to hurt them for some people.

Regardless, I want to be more upbeat here while at the same time commenting on social issues. I regret my carelessness in generalizing with such a powerful word.

My resolution: to use the “hate” word sparingly from this day forward, reserved for the self-professed haters and those proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt.

To Fred: I’m sorry I bummed you out with the “hate” word in the preceding post. But your response opened my eyes to an unwise generalization I was making here, and I went back on that post and toned it down. So thank you for that contribution here and going forward.

And I reiterate: there are lots and lots and lots of people in this world who don’t hate or dislike any particular groups of people. The real haters are a minority. We all need to remember that.

— Jillian