Hate Man 

How a New York Times reporter dropped out and became a hate evangelist in Berkeley.

Page 4 of 7

When he arrived, Hate stayed in San Francisco with his old friend. But he didn't feel at home in the city, so his friend suggested he check out the college town across the bay. Hate had heard of Berkeley because of the Free Speech Movement, and, though he had never been there, he knew almost immediately that it was home.

Then in his mid-thirties, Hate was working as a legal secretary and living near campus in Barrington Hall, a co-op whose tenants had a reputation for rampant drug use. He began dating an undergrad named Sarah, who was then just twenty years old. It was during their relationship that Hate's philosophy of oppositionality took root.

The relationship was rocky from the start, so Hate and Sarah came up with a system. When one would piss off the other, the offended one need only say, "I hate you" or "fuck you," but without the vehemence usually attached to those phrases. Hate felt the method was a success; nonetheless, they broke up after two years of dating. When Sarah made it clear that she no longer wanted to see him, Hate said he responded, "'Fuck you. I hate you.' And she said, 'Well, fuck you, I hate you.' The whole thing was funny."

As Hate continued to try to date other women, he used his "fuck you" approach with them as well. Not surprisingly, it didn't go over very well. "Up until then, having an N-I-C-E day in California was a religion," Hate noted. "Until then, that's all there was. I learned to say 'fuck you' in New York 'cause it's like 'hello' in New York. So I was used to that. And then I added 'I hate you' with Sarah where we got used to saying it, comfortable with it. I didn't know it was a big deal."

Jobs were hard to come by at that time and Hate often found himself in lines for unemployment or temp jobs. One day, he was hanging out on Bancroft Way, watching students and university employees rushing to campus. "Then this one woman was smiling, so I smiled at her, and she almost threw up," he said. "And I realized later, I think she just had her smile on, like her makeup, for her boss when she got to work. She worked on campus. It wasn't for me or for somebody else to smile at her — she didn't like it. So I went over to the steps at the student union and there was a street person named Sky that I knew. And I said, 'Man, people are fucked up today,' and she said, 'Yeah, don't you hate 'em?' And this light went on in my brain. And it was like, uh, yeah, I could hate everybody to some extent. So I went back out to the post there and I started saying, 'Fuck you, I hate you, have a lousy day' to everybody, and people just cracked up. They were stunned, shocked, horrified, pissed."

Pretty soon, a circle of people had gathered around Hate, some interrogating him, heckling him, or just taking in the entertainment. Hate found the whole thing amusing. "And then I got addicted to it," he said.

The next day he went back to Sproul Plaza to continue his hate tirade. He noticed that if he moved around too much, people would shy away from him because he'd seem too nuts. So after a few days, he decided to stand in the middle of the fountain at Sproul, which was then empty because of a drought, in order to put a safe distance between him and the public. The tactic worked.

For a year, Hate went to the fountain and practiced his hate speech. At times, he'd attract a crowd three deep, he said. It was during this period that he earned his nickname: Hate Man.

Though he wasn't quite aware of what he was doing, it was clear he was onto something. "I would turn to face whoever was the most upset, because the heckler can be dangerous but they're also the person who is the most interested in what I am saying, so it's also to my benefit for two reasons to pay attention to them," Hate said. "And that's when I really put it together — it's a way of caring. I can care when I'm negative and that's actually my most radical proposition here. Like if we're angry, that's a challenge in relationships — can we care? I call the thing oppositionalism. Can we care when we're opposite? ... So the 'I hate you' is a way of staying in there when we're opposite as well as 'F-U-C-K Y-O-U' and 'I'm pissed.' ... The caring light is still on even though it's negative."

In some ways, Hate's hate was a defense against all the pain he had suffered. "I tried caring about people in a positive way, only in a positive way, forgiving people and all that," he said. "And it was a disaster. Those are the people who burned me the worst in my life. So that's why I came up with negative caring."

Hate's rants particularly upset preachers, who used the opportunity to evangelize. But he always had a comeback for them. He would cite Luke 14:26-27 in King James, where Jesus states, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

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