Hating and Haters: A Conversation

As the steward of this blog, I unilaterally decided to draw attention to an ongoing discussion about international enmity that’s occupied the comments for a few old posts. Most of the discussion occurs in response to two posts: Do You Hate the British Too? and Now I do hate the British.

The word “hate” was excessive in both titles, but it did generate some worthwhile discussion (and a whole lot of traffic from the Google search engines). I ask that those who want to continue the discussion make comments on this post from now on. Feel free to link to old comments, or quote them, if you want to make specific references to the comments to date.

I’ll contribute by writing the following in this post, rather than in a comment on an old post. If you’d like to contribute, please read the old comments first!

M. Bucceri and M. Pickling:

I’m glad for the chance to discuss this topic with you. But I’m not sure why my words from April — to Ryan Kennedy — aren’t an adequate response:

I don’t think anyone intended to mean “everyone living in the UK or descended from such” when they said “the British”. On the contrary, most people in Ireland (and in the rest of the English-speaking world) respect and even emulate their favorite part of British society. You’re right, it’d be foolish to hate everyone in a nation!

Now, what if “the British” means the power structures (or willful individuals or cultural norms) that oppressed peoples in Ireland and elsewhere? Then, it might be appropriate to hate the British. It might even be a moral obligation.

But even then, I don’t hate the British. I have a great distaste for the arrogance of the British Empire in the 19th Century and a great sorrow for the lives and opportunities wasted at that time. But I don’t feel hate for it in the way that I do for other things. Still, I can respect Irish people who do feel that intense emotion due to their particular connections.

When taken in this spirit, the references to “the British” in this blog are not hateful, in my opinion.

I, too, am opposed to Hate — blinkered and with a capital “H” — as M. Pickling uses the word. But I do not see where Anita or I expressed bigotry, anger, or intolerance. Instead, the two posts in question were intended to be self-deprecating and playful. At worst, smart-alecky.

The best example of Hate that I can find on the bakkerbugle.com website is WAKE UP’s comment, which also links to an organ of the BNP. I will not dignify that nastiness with a link here.

As far as asking M. Pickling to leave the party: well, I don’t think Anita did that. Her intent was merely to set some boundaries for the comments on this blog. If you’ve spent time reading comments on more popular blogs than this one, you know that there is a type of person who acts as a troll, repeatedly posting inappropriate and hateful comments. Some of the people who commented before M. Pickling seem to be trolling: Alex, William and selia. (Feel free to redeem yourselves, drive-by commenters.)

As Anita said, M. Pickling has been thoughtful, and hardly a troll. But comments like the following are a different matter:

Maybe the fact that you call yourself a “house husband” is an indication that you have too much time on you hands to conjure up these banalities in your odd mind.

But the crux is: what if this article started with the statement “now I do hate the Irish”, or “now I do hate the Americans”?

I only read this site because it’s so banal and silly.

That is cause for offence, as is “why you don’t stop your childish blablabla”.

As for the crux: I can’t speak for Anita on this, but I have been tempted to write an article entitled “Now I hate the Irish too” and another one on “hating America.” I sometimes feel this urge after an unusually exasperating episode of a continual annoyance. In this context, the phrase, “I hate the Irish” would mean little more than, “As I write this, I loathe a way of acting that seems, to me, especially prevalent in Ireland.” In other words, I would be trying to express roughly what M. Pickling felt toward Parisian, Russian, and US border control staff.

This is a blog, and blogs allow for a casual, short-lived, and somewhat sensational way of writing. Some posts may cross into the grey territory of the banal; after all, I post too often for this stuff to represent my considered — and copy-edited — thoughts.

I’m willing to clarify (when challenged) that I don’t hate Irish people, in the sense that M. Pickling talks about. So I don’t think that the word should be excised from my vocabulary for this blog. I believe that “hate” is a word that I can write with my tongue in my cheek. An example of tongue-in-cheek is the following comment I made in August:

As far as I can tell, it’s okay to enjoy British things. After all, most of the Irish heroes, particularly writers, spent lots of time in England.

One condition: you must temper your admiration as follows: “I like the scones I had in Windsor, and I can’t find an Irish producer. Feckin’ bastards, those Englishmen.”

For the record, I do not believe that Englishmen are all sexually-active progeny of unwed parents. The comment was silly, and probably banal, but hopefully entertaining to a few people. If you don’t like my sense of humour, feel free to crack your own jokes. If you grant that those two posts were light-hearted, then calling me hateful is a red herring.

I see that “hate” is a powerful word. Maybe I’m wrong about the word, and one should not use the word “hate” so casually. If that’s the crux of the issue, let’s talk about that. That topic sounds interesting to me.

17 Comments to “Hating and Haters: A Conversation”

  1. Steve Pickling said...
    12 January 2009


    I appreciate the time it must have taken you to respond to my concerns.

    The problem is that some of your comments do appear hateful and are difficult to read any other way. Although I pointed out there are some contradictions, albeit heavily qualified.

    Take for example your comment: “I was not impressed at all by the sign that I saw as I neared the immigration desks: “Due to new regulations, it may take longer to enter our country. Cheers, the UK authorities.” I don’t want to enter your country, you arrogant Brits.”

    The final line says it all. (And I doubt very much that an official notice would be signed off that way!)

    It would appear disingenuous to claim that you are being playful, self-depricating or even “smart-alecky” when one of your articles proclaims your hate for a nation, and another asks others if they agree with your hate for a nation. Indeed, it is very far from playful to suggest that hating a nation is anyone’s moral obligation. “Hate” by its very nature is not a playful word.

    Even if we, the reading public, are to believe your blog was meant to be playful, look at the result. It has led to your site being sullied by the disgusting BNP (who I should say speak for a very tiny minority in the UK). Hate breeds hate.

    Again, I apologise if I was troll-like in my anger at the articles. But I would have appreciated it if you had pasted my earlier apology for balance (I did chuckle at some of your posts!). And I dont think Frederique Bucceri was at all insulting. You yourself seem to agree that there was a degree of childishness involved. (By the way – thank you Frederique!).

    You are right. “Hate” is a powerful word. It shouldn’t be used so casually. Especially when, to use Anita’s analogy, your “party” is so public. If I were to invite the world to a party, but amongst others there were banners inviting, and proclaiming, hate for certain nations, then I would expect some of passers by from these groups to smash my windows, or piss on my lawn at the very least.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t bother posting any more comments using the word “hate”. It ruins a nice website. Let’s face it, life’s too short. Sorry too if this all got a bit heavy.

    Thanks for your considered response, and again, sorry if I caused any offence.

    Best regards,


  2. Tom Chappell said...
    15 January 2009

    Phew! Glad we got that one sorted out! From now on if anyone says they hate the British I’ll know what they actually mean is they hate the ‘the power structures, willful individuals or cultural norms’ that oppressed Irish people in the past. Yeah cheers then!!
    Thats not what most Irish people mean when they say they hate the British. They mean they hate the BRITISH PEOPLE.
    Some interesting facts….75% of Irish born people living abroard live in Britain. More than any other country. There are around 8 million 2nd and 3rd generation Irish in Britain. Myself included. God knows how many more English, Welsh and Scots have Irish Heritage.

  3. Chris Church said...
    20 January 2009

    I was just in Brussels for the weekend. Those Belgian turds and their power structures. So many willful individuals, and all those wasted lives in the Congo. Or do I just hate them. Or am I just confused. What a weak pair of tossers you two are. You just avoided all the questions Mr Pickling raised. What a a pair of weasels.


  4. Mary McConalogue said...
    29 January 2009

    I am an Irish nurse in England. I was really disappointed and embarased to read your blog – especially since I was online looking for info on Dublin with an English freind of mine who will be going there in March. Patronising too, as it seems like you’re a pair of Americans who think a touch of Brit hating will help you fit in.

    You even got by some of Mr Picklings (real name?) questions by changing the subject. And Anita’s response was almost sinister. Seriously, read it again.

    I couple of years back I nursed an old English guy in the hospital where I work. I noticed some scars on his back and arms and asked him how he got them. He told me that he was a prisoner of the Japanese during the Emergency. He told me a little about his experience, but it was obviously really difficult for him. But what amazed me was that he wasn’t bitter. He said that he was for years afterwards, but back in the sixties, he decided life was too short. He even bought a Nissan car which he was very proud of (“made in England though”, he said).

    So that’s why I was disappointed by your blogs. If he can move on, so should my fellow country people. And so should a bunch of Americans who didn’t need to get into all that in the first place. Enjoy the craic by all means. But hate is a nasty thing, and nobody has a moral duty to hate. That was an idiotic thing to write. To use a proper Irish phrase you behaved like a “feckin eejit”.


  5. Marcel Oie said...
    23 March 2009

    Try “feckin’ pompous American eejit who’s not as clever as he thinks”. Much more appropriate!

    I’m French too!

  6. Will said...
    20 April 2009

    The Daily Show visits an American Tea Party: “John Oliver discovers that Americans don’t know anything about tyranny…”

  7. Barry Cade said...
    21 April 2009

    That was fantastic. Really funny. It just goes to show, you can’t be too careful. But what point are you trying to make?


  8. boogysplit said...
    21 April 2009

    wow….it seems there are a couple of my favorites here that have much to say about Americans….tell me, is that your opinion, or is it just a “nasty” comment on the people as a whole from a general stereotype? I was totally dissed on because I stated the majority of the British I have met turned out to be racist, arrogant, and so on, and I couldnt stand them because of it. yet the first few post on that forum bitched about the Brits because of…..scones????? Do the people here think that the countries they come from and the people in them dont come off as pompous to the Americans sometimes? have you ever wondered if its your cultural habits and beliefs that come off as offensive or immoral to other countries with different practices? I dont agree with everything American, but those are valid points to dislike views and opinions from foreign standpoints, in my opinion…is it ok to hate it?….I dont think so, it may turn out to be something that makes more sense in the future. But now I see I may have been debating with hipocrites, who know nothing or very little about what is going on outside of their televisions.

  9. Will said...
    21 April 2009

    Barry: I wasn’t trying to make a point; I just wanted to share a little relevant humour with the Bugle’s public sphere.

  10. boogysplit said...
    21 April 2009

    and yes Will….John Stewart is funny as hell!

  11. Will said...
    21 April 2009

    boogysplit: First, welcome to this little corner of the world!

    Second, I’m not sure what you meant by this: “yet the first few post on that forum bitched about the Brits because of…..scones?????”

    When I mentioned scones in the original post, I meant it as a bit of light comedy. As you noticed, it wasn’t received as such by some readers. Here, I can’t tell what you’re saying about the incident.

    As I said in THIS post (above), I do hate America, and Americans as a group, occasionally — but in a weaker sense of the word “hate” than the way that you and Steve Pickling use the word.

    One other thing I must say: Whatever the faults of the people commenting on these posts about hate, all the evidence says that every one of us knows quite a bit beyond the world outside our televisions!

    Yet… It could be that some of us know too much, and should have some more doubt about our convictions.

  12. boogysplit said...
    21 April 2009

    wait a minute, I never used the word hate….and I accept your welcome, its kind of a breath of fresh air to hear it from other views. I understood the comedy in your comment on scones, but what I couldnt understand was the misinterpretations I recieved….maybe its just in the way of thinking in our cultural differences. ohh well, im not really concerned about hurting anyones feelings…heated arguments tend to teach a lesson at some point.

  13. boogysplit said...
    22 April 2009

    I refer to the impressions from television because media has been used as a reference by Marcel a few times now. for example “The Waltons”….. I should also explain my question toward your scone comment. I was confused how that wasnt taken seriously, and my first comment was taken so offensive.

  14. Will said...
    9 May 2009

    Daily Show writers read this blog! (Possibly.) John Oliver and Jon Stewart comment on our most popular post — on internationally-broadcast news!
    Battle of the Banned: “John Oliver defends Great Britain’s ban of Michael Savage because a civilized society is more important than freedom of speech.”

  15. Barry Cade said...
    9 May 2009

    That was mildly amusing. But what’s your point Will?

  16. Barb Aritee said...
    10 May 2009

    I don’t think you can justify recent comments on other strings on the basis of freedom of speech. What if a guy called Ahmed, or somesuch name, said that he liked the sound of Americans thumping into the ground after jumping from very tall buildings, or “up the ‘Qaeda 9/11”?

  17. Dermot Dwyer said...
    2 June 2009

    What a vile little question in those earlier threads, and what a cowardly little justification from the proprietors of this squalid little corner of the internet.

    Freedom of speech is an aspiraton that pertains to nation states, not individuals or their websites. So get off your high horse. Individuals surely must aspire to decency. You could have displayed some decency and backbone at various junctures. You blew that, I’m afraid.

    Let’s hope that the French, Belgians or Germans get off more lighly when you get to poor little Luxembourg.