Most of the time I think of myself as living in a fairly progressive and enlightened world. I'm fotunate that I work with a set of wonderful people, I can travel all over the world and I'm a member of an excellent theatre company. As a result, hatred of things, or at least expressions of hatred are generally just not tolerated in any of the circles in which I run. (With the exception, of course, of things that FAIL, like a particularly bad piece of code - but even then it's less about hatred and more about not liking something that didn't work)
There are two social acceptable exceptions to that rule, though: Americans, and cats.
I was reading a blog post earlier this morning (which I won't link to because that's not the point here) which was a fun post about older people finding new music. As a person who is not getting any younger myself, the blog post was quite enjoyable. Smack in the middle of it though, there was a fairly senseless off-hand dig at stupid Americans. It was so off-hand though, that I think that's why it jumped out at me - hate, scorn or derision of folks from the US is so normal as to not even elicit emotion.
In most of the circles I travel in, if you said the same sentence but replaced Americans with just about any other arbitrary grouping of people (and were not being ironic) you would meet with quite a good amount of resistance. Just imagine me making a comment about "stupid Asians" and see how long I get to remain at the dinner party.
I notice a similar thing with cats. In any group of people, there will be someone in the group who, if cats come up, will freely talk about how they hate cats, or how they used to torture cats. I have heard people talk about throwing cats across rooms with the same level of concern as they would tell me what sandwich they had for lunch. I suppose, given that a cat is just an animal, that one could just assume people don't care as much about animals... but substitute dog for cat in any of those stories and you will find yourself with a riot on your hands. And the times I've tried to point out the dichotomy to dog-loving friends who avow hatred of cats, the response usually comes back "I guess... but I hate cats"
Why is it socially ok to tell stories about torturing cats when torturing dogs is societally completely unforgivable. Why is it ok to single out a group of people based on geographical origin for scorn, when it is not ok to do so in general?
The really sad part is that when I ask those questions... I get justifications. "Cats suck" or "The US brings it on itself." But I've got to say - abusing animals is not ok, no matter what the animal is, and bigotry is wrong no matter who the target is. Regardless of how cool you may think such expressions make you, I believe they do nothing but show ignorance... and they make me sad.