You’re walking down a Windsor street, joining your child as she rides her new scooter, or maybe delivering free Druthers newspapers. Then you notice a lawn sign. The message hits your eyeballs, unavoidably:
has no home here.”
In the sign’s design, there is no visual emphasis on the word “hate,” but it stands out like a flagged landmine all the same. “Hate” is often used to describe an unaccepted opinion; and at the same time, “hate” is commonly associated with some of the greatest atrocities in human history.
As Orwell predicted in his prophetic novel’s Two Minutes Hate, the word has power to churn up acidic reactivity among the masses. In Nineteen Eighty Four, the people engaging in “hate” were openly acknowledging their own hatred; what this part of the novel didn’t predict so well is that people (not just governments) more easily engage in hatred dishonestly. By denying it in themselves and projecting it onto their perceived enemies, they justify their own hateful thoughts, feelings, and actions. “Hate” is a scarlet letter. Once you’ve been made to wear it, a lot of people feel they have a right to treat you badly.
Encountering the word “hate” in the 2020s elicits a reflexive recoil, a teensy adrenaline rush. A person who has bumped into the word “hate” out of nowhere, especially during an innocent stroll, might even be described as having been, ever so slightly, ‘triggered.’
“Hate,” is not nice to see.
Pairing this with pictures of hands holding up the ‘Peace sign’ (that is, the symbol of ‘victory,’ re-branded), doesn’t make much difference. Rather, including the ‘peace sign’ serves to highlight the cognitive dissonance of the experience. Is this about hate, or is this about peace and love?
That this unfriendly wave of double-negatives, which uses the language of exclusion, rejection and opposition, is being called a “visible hug” by supporters is pretty weird. Yet these signs have gotten popular. In some neighbourhoods, a mail carrier might encounter six or eight of them while traversing a given block:
sprouting up on the lawns of Windsor-Essex like weeds.
When you encounter that word out of nowhere, how do you feel? What’s the flavour of the first little lightning-shock of recognition? Is it a good feeling? I doubt it. “Hate” is a powerful political term, delineating an “us” from a “them,” and always suggesting that the “them” is so unreachable by “us,” so unempathetic and unreasonable, that compromise is impossible, and so a solution must be found through censorship, coercion, and ideological warfare.
… Or maybe by evicting someone, like a tenant or a teenager, because of their opinion.
“Hate has no home here,” gives hate a home. Displaying one of these signs puts “hate” on your lawn, and thus greets every glancing passerby with the word, and the thought of what it means. No matter what innocent topic these dogwalkers and deliverymen had been thinking about, once exposed to your sign, they are now thinking about hate, what constitutes hate, and whether it can be tolerated.
They will worry that they may accidentally be guilty of giving hate a home by failing to put a sign with the word “hate” on their own front lawns, where it will be introduced without cause into the minds of ever more passers-by.
Your “Hate has no home here,” sign gives hate a home: your home. Your mind. Your neighbours’ minds.
If you don’t believe me, answer me this:
Why don’t the signs say
“Love lives here,”
A couple disclaimers.
1) I don’t take issue with negative language as a rule. ‘Hate,’ is extremely negative, and front lawns are extremely visible.
2) I know this post is kind of off-topic, political and local but not directly related to covid. Shoot me!… a message using the ‘contact us’ button in the black bar at the top of the page and share what, specifically, you’d like to see covered at StandUpWindsor about medical tyranny in the area.