Love to Hate: America's Obsession with Hatred and Violence

By Jody M. Roy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Hate Is Cool

Like most American children, I learned early to identify which kids in my neighborhood were considered “cool.” Those deemed “cool” ruled the loosely defined territory of our neighborhood—a sprawling trailer court and the adjacent lower-middle-class housing development in a small Midwestern city. If a regular kid did not like me, then, well, some regular kid did not like me, so what? But if one of the cool kids did not like me, then I had a problem. Why? Because being rejected by the cool kids meant the very great likelihood that all the kids in the neighborhood would follow suit. So, like most American kids, I learned to know who was cool and to play my cards accordingly. Fortunately for me, one of the true kings of coolness in my part of town was my oldest cousin, thusproviding me with a certain degree of social insurance just by association.

Researchers from a variety of fields have studied the complex dynamics of human social hierarchies. From governmental and corporate organizational structures to the social ladder of kids in any given neighborhood, when humans meet up in groups they tend to arrange themselves in relation to a single leader or a small group of leaders. Within social structures those in leadership roles center the group and function as a base of authority. One way in which leaders enact their authority is

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