Hate Trumps Love. Let’s Fix That.

Lately we’ve been hit over and over again with examples of how hatred seems more popular, more financially gainful, more politically powerful than any other force. This is supremely evident in the difference in giving between charities like water for Flint Michigan and fascist spunkbuckets like Jordan Peterson’s patreon. The latter is way more successful. Likewise, in internet wars between haters and people who want to make the world a better place, haters have more stamina.

I know why hate is more profitable than love, why selling hate is always more successful than selling the common good. It’s because doing good things costs effort, sometimes nominal, sometimes a lot. But it always costs something. And hatred? It actually gives something back to haters, gives them pleasure.

So imagine this. Two lines. One, you go to put in a penny for charity. Oh, easily done. Why not? But if you’re a little busy or distracted, you might miss it. Line Two, you go to eat a free banana split. Hey, maybe the banana split costs a little money, but it feels good to eat, right? Motivation. Whatever good feeling you get from the charity is remote, high-minded, fleeting and ephemeral. Line two is sweet food in your mouth now.

So far I’ve mostly stayed away from sexual metaphors, but that’s a mistake. Because I genuinely believe the pleasure slyme pitters nazis rethuglicans terfs dominionists and daesh get from hatred is – if not always sexual – sex adjacent.

There was a bit of pop science that did the rounds on the internet a few years ago saying it determined looking at pics of cute animals lights up the same areas of the brain as looking at pornography. Why? I’d guess it’s because they’re visual information that speaks to a kind of sensory pleasure. You can pet a cute animal, get busy with a cute human, something like that. And I guarantee you that when Roseanne Barr or some other nazi sees a swastika or a racist meme, that same area of the brain lights up.

The movies American History X and Romper Stomper both included scenes which equated glorying in racist hatred with sexual energy. Fairuza Balk said the N slur with flared nostrils, heavy breaths, dilated pupils. Boned Norton with the same energy. Russell Crowe reading from Mein Kampf during naked time with his main squeeze. Those directors were reading the same thing I’m seeing in the fascist thugs running the world right now. Sleazy pleasure.

So here’s the math: Good deeds don’t feel amazing, and Evil deeds literally help some bad people get their rocks off. Therefore there will always be an energy differential that favors evil in the world.

We can try to ameliorate it by seizing platforms, seizing the means of production, stuff like that. But we’d be a lot more assured of success if we could figure out how to change the math. Maybe we should all train ourselves to get horny for goodness? That’s a joke, but I’m serious about the aim. Can we, by seeing the math at the core of our problem, find a way to change the equation?

I hope so. I can’t see how, but I hope so.


  1. Melinda says

    Thank you for that analysis. It makes sense. I had been contemplating why people (friends and strangers both) just blatantly say they hate such-n-such a person, like a politician for example, when they don’t even know the person personally and have never researched anything about them or even taken the time to witness the person’s behavior first-hand instead of just absorbing what’s been said second-hand. The hate that is spewed throughout media these days is atrocious. I guess it is easier for many people to react from a baser nature than to take the time to think about it logically. Thinking takes effort and time. Granted, it is a zoo out there. It’s sometimes hard to discern fact from fiction, but when it seems to come from a hatred bias, then it’s most likely the latter.

  2. =8)-DX says

    Cute animals and getting horny for goodness sounds like some of the more positive sections of the furry fandom, actually. Interesting post, thanks.

  3. lynnannrosehuntington says

    I have complex PTSD and I’ve experienced the power of negative experiences. Adverse experiences are coded in the implicit memory as a priority. We remember that something adverse happened so we can avoid it in the future. I am postulating that fear-mongering by the likes of Trump register in the amygdala and implicitly influence the conservative mind’s tendency toward hate.

  4. Jay says

    The analysis on the surface feels intuitive — I’m sure there are some people who get their rocks off doing horrible things to people (in a non-consensual way). But let’s be careful of straying into the belief that people we don’t like are mustache-twirling villains who cry “Tee-hee, look at me being evil” — most people think of themselves as good.

    As someone who grew up with a lot of right wing-values — and watching parts of my family slide farther to the right — I’d like to provide an alternate analysis from my own experience:

    The hatred comes from a deeply moral (and arguably evolutionary) place:

    * Protect the in-group from external threats.
    * Punish evil-doers and free-riders.
    * Make the world more fair.

    Most of these people have been fed lies — as I was — about who the threats to the group were, and who the in-group was supposed to be. Hatred doesn’t feel good because evil is awesome; it feels good because hatred in service of protecting your group from external threats benefits survival of your group as a whole.

    And (straying into completely speculative territory here), I would wager that facing an external threat poses a higher physical threat to the individual than helping an in-group member — therefore a higher reward (e.g. adrenaline) is needed to get an organism to comply.

    What’s more interesting to me is, how did we get to the point that Flint is seen merely as in-group helping, and not facing a real-world external threat (i.e., the sources of pollution, and the reasons why the problem hasn’t been fixed)? :thinking-face:

  5. Jay says

    Apologies…lest my comment be construed as “Have empathy for the haters”, it was not. Rather, it was a statement that the right has effectively co-opted weaponized stronger “good” emotional tendencies (protect the in-group from external threats), but most actual good causes seem to use the harder-to-muster empathy…and asking how we might frame things differently.

  6. Kwahu says

    Sad that folks are entertained by the misery of others. But I still would like to see what they are saying so I can criticize their beliefs! Free thought means the freedom to think how one will until reason and rationality enters ones thought process. Cutting them off will probably only result into tribalism among online communities, which won’t help change minds.

  7. says

    Jay and Kwahu – I don’t agree with you much if at all, but I don’t mind letting you out of the spam trap to express your points today. Sorry it was late, this group blog gets slower moderation than our respective mains.

  8. says

    Jay – More specifically the grief with “free-riders” seems petulant, childish, and extremely against the charitable notions espoused by Jeezy. I remember feeling cranky about unfairness on that kinda level when I was ten. Nowadays, I see how that attitude costs the country billions of dollars in policing social programs to a level that causes a lot of needy people to not apply in the first place.

    A lot of people literally die in the streets rather than face the scrutiny of the SSI program, or because they tried and got shut down on technicalities and didn’t have the strength of will to endlessly defend their right to exist. And when they do get everything the government is willing to give them? They can afford a roach-ridden chicken coop to live in, if they’re lucky.

    We’d definitely help a lot more people who earnestly need help if we weren’t so piss-terified of one grifter getting away with cheating the gubmint. Meanwhile, we’re so in love with the idea that we can strike it rich off of some clever gimmick that we have made our laws obscenely generous to active con men, like trump and his pyramid-rich pal betsy devos.

    I’ve seen the sad sackin’ red state version of that too. Nice lady said she was too proud to ask for assistance when she was homeless, but honestly? I think she didn’t know where to even start looking for help, was afraid to talk to someone about it, make herself vulnerable. But she was mad fucked and given that she’s also trans, I would not be surprised to find out she’s dead around now. We’re not in touch.

    All that said, you seem like you’re engaging in this honestly and with a more open mind than I am, so I like you. Thumbs up.

    Kwahu – Ahaha, I will accept this “gotcha” for now. There is a friction between the idea of trying to make the world a better place, holding progressive ideals, and allowing completely unfettered freedom of speech and expression. I’m not here for that debate today. If I ever come available to get into that debate, I’ll give you a jingle. Leaving it to any other interested parties at present.

    But I am fully willing to admit I don’t allow fully free speech where I hold sway. I don’t need to hear conservative bullshit to know it’s bullshit, because I’ve heard it all before. There is nothing new they can say, their continued badgering at this point is just abuse. If you’re down to host that on your blog, feel free to do so. I won’t, even if that looks hypocritical on a network with this one’s particular name.

    • says

      We seem far more afraid, as a country, of seeing the undeserving receiving assistance, than we are of the innocent being punished. unless the undeserving or innocent are already ludicrously wealthy or powerful (preferably both) and white, to boot.

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