Last Fall the Alexandria City Council officially declared that, in response to the election of Donald Trump, our burg rejects all forms of hate and will henceforth be known as a “hate free zone.” I refer you to the text of the city’s Nov. 19 proclamation, which identifies seven groups of haters to watch out for: Immigrant /national origin haters, age haters, sex/gender/sexual orientation haters, religious group haters, race and color haters, disabled people haters and lastly, marital status haters. Wait … did I just say “marital status” haters? Yes I certainly did, but don’t worry: the city is considering exempting randomly ticked-off spouses from that last group.
The most striking feature of this proclamation is not that it boldly enumerated an intriguing, updated seven deadly sins list, but that it conspicuously omitted an important hater group: people who hate everything. If we want to have a truly effective hate-free zone, shouldn’t we cover the bases by banning all haters?
Maybe not. So far no government has ever been able to successfully probe the human heart. Besides, we already have laws that set the boundaries of acceptable civil behavior by punishing various offenses such as discrimination and harassment. We must also question whether the word “hate” still generates any serious moral wallop. For example, someone told me I am a “hater” for opining that Justin Bieber’s singing voice is sub-par. And I really hate that on a rainy day in Old Town I must slog 50 feet or more to locate the nearest parking meter while fishing through my purse for a credit card.
These may be lame examples, but a powerful word that used to describe something terribly odious has casually morphed and oozed into an unrecognizable creature. In academia, the word “hate” has become quite handy as a free-speech-squelcher. Liberal college students, the little darlings, have figured out that there’s no speedier way to hustle a conservative off campus than hurling the “hate speech” epithet. Add a dash of property damage to further drive home one’s full outrage, and voila!
Alexandria has admirably struggled to find an adult way of expressing its own angst post-election, but the result is a rather whiny and self-righteous fail. Copycatting San Francisco, New York and Madison, Wisconsin, Alexandria came up with an embarrassingly toothless proclamation, warning certain nameless haters that they better stay away. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing the warning is directed at everyone other than Clinton voters.
How about a little perspective, Alexandria? You know well that every four or eight years the earth turns on its political axis, but the center always holds. Although half the country won, still, the other half lost bigly. Nevertheless things are nowhere as bleak or frightening as you fear. Many good people have wandered through that forbidding Political Loser Wilderness before you and survived to tell about it. You will too.
Until the happy smiles and joyous tears return in say, 2020, please try to stop worrying about a potential plague of the seven deadly haters. And I “hate” to use an inartful term like “repeal and replace,” but I really think that the city’s preachy proclamation preventing predators from prevailing needs to be scrapped. Having lived here most of my life, I know that Alexandrians have a long history getting along famously, despite our differences. Moreover, it is entirely possible someone could unearth a smart, clever Alexandrian capable of composing a brilliant, catchy, less judgmental hater-repellant slogan we all would like. For starters, how about something positive, inclusive, inviting, and definitely containing another four-letter word: L-O-V-E?