Thursday, September 09, 2004

Hatred in degrees

Letter written to the editors of the Denver Post and Rocky MOuntain News Sept. 9, 2004

At what point is hatred acceptable?

I am Uncle Sam. Actually, I am a stilt walker with a 10-foot-tall version of the American icon. Recently, with the political season fully engaged, I have been seen at parades and events quite regularly. You may, in fact, have seen me in the local television reports this week, having been a part of the Louisville Labor Day Parade. One of the greatest pleasure of my job is to see the wonder and excitement in children’s eyes and the thrill they get as I hand them candy, stickers, or other “treasures.” In a parade, a child who gets anything from a parade participant feels special and happy at the fact that- out of the hundreds of kids on the parade route -they got something. On Monday, however, at the Louisville parade, I witnessed a heartbreaking experience. I approached four children (ages probably 3-8 years) and they absolutely glowed with excitement when I gave them stickers. Then an adult male reached around and violently snatched the stickers from their grasp. “You don’t want those!” he said viciously. The stickers, you see, had the “Bush Cheney 04” logo. The children were immediately brought to the point of tears, wondering what exactly THEY had done wrong. Now, these children were too young to be political and the stickers would obviously not have changed one mind in the household on whom to vote for on November 2nd. The stickers were completely harmless in and of themselves. At first glance, the only thing accomplished was an expression of the man’s hatred of the current administration. But what I saw was a group of children hurt and teary-eyed over losing a sticker that they felt special for having received. At their young ages, they don’t concern themselves with Presidential qualifications or ideological differences between candidates… and they shouldn’t! But what those children did learn that Labor Day morning was a taste of hatred and hurt. Hurt inflicted by someone they loved and trusted because of a logo on a sticker. There is little doubt that the anti-Bush crowd is not just opposed to this administration, but viciously hates it. It is sad that we are teaching our children this hatred at such a young age, and spoiling a child’s magical moments (such as a parade) in the process. It is a matter of degrees, but this hurting of children in the name of self-righteous opinion is no different than what we saw in Chechnya this last week. Hatred is hatred.

Charles King Byrne


  1. There seemed to be a direct purpose in distributing the political themed stickers, even if the children were too young to understand what it was. I was thinking, as an ardent supporter of the Kerry/Edwards ticket, would I want my child running around with a Bush/Cheney sticker? Absolutely not. I'm sure you knew that not all of those at the parade would be Bush fans, and you knew exactly the response you would receive when attempting to distribute his propaganda. If the enjoyment of the children had truly been your main focus it would have been much more appropriate to portray a character that appealed to everyone, such as Garfield or even Pokemon.

  2. Ahhhh .. and so that justified the meanspirited and vicious way in which the dad snatched the stickers out of the hands of the children? The fact that these children were upset to the point of tears .. that means nothing next to the fact that they (GASP!) had Bush Cheney stickers? If someone had given my boys Kerry/Edwards stickers... yes... I would have taken them at some point, but certainly not in the hatefilled manner I witnessed. ::: shrug :::
    Actually I'm getting used to the fact that the Kerry/Edwards supporters have no qualms with hatred and hurting others --- the ends justifying the hurtfull and hatefilled means. I see it in every parade and political function I've attended.


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