“I hate her, she ... ,” I remember saying about a girl down the street whose name disappeared from my memory long, long ago.

Gramma heard me out. She always did, now vividly coming to me in a gingham work dress, highly polished shoes with stout, square heels, and a bib apron ... her graying red hair in rolls along her neck.

Her reply probably wasn’t a one-off. I suspect she said it with some frequency during my formative years, because I can still hear her words: “You don’t hate anyone, Patti.  Hatred only hurts those who hate.” And, “Hatred erodes the soul.”

I remember this because, suddenly, hatred seems to be surfacing in Wyoming and Park County, and it has the potential to do more than harm the haters’ souls.

But there’s nothing sudden about it, is there? Hatred has been rising like a deadly American tide for decades, the individuals who preach hate against their fellow citizens turning into groups, the groups morphing into so-called militias, and those spreading out around the country, encouraged by no less than the man who could have been the “leader of the free world.”

Hate. I had thought our practical Wyoming people immune from its normalization elsewhere. 

Like you, I’ve watched hate groups carry guns into largely peaceful rallies, killing other and unarmed people because of their color. Like you, I’ve listened to newscasts of rising tides of anti-Semitism and laughed about stories of antifa coming into Wyoming.

The last reminded me of that old Clint Eastwood movie “Any Which Way You Can,” and the scene where a group of L.A. bikers with their leathers and tats, wearing fright wigs, speed into Wyoming. They’re stopped by a patrolman who gets a good look.  Then, he breaks down laughing and sends them on their way. They and their obvious ethos were that foreign and ludicrous to someone raised in the Cowboy State.

That’s the way it used to be.  Not long ago.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer a laughing matter.  This summer a similar group rolled into Wyoming from Colorado preaching hatred of our own people, claiming that some of us are being negatively influenced by outside forces and that peaceful assemblies and demonstrations may be guaranteed by the Constitution but are dangerous. They offered to train Wyomingites and urged us to arm ourselves against ... whom?

None but each other. And, we’ve seen it happen. We’ve also now seen neighbors terrifying neighbors because of their sexual orientation. What next? How deep into our souls has the hate gone?

We’re the Cowboy State. We’re conservative, practical and tolerant people ... adjectives that don’t coexist most places but, with our unique heritage, largely have here.

Like the state patrolman with the California bikers, let’s laugh and let them move on.

They aren’t us.  Just, please, don’t let them become us. Laughter liberates and unifies. Hatred does much, much worse than erode our souls.

(3) comments


There was plenty of hatred when Obama was in the White House...still is for that matter.I never heard so many "N" words in my 68 years.


Booney- which direction were all those N words travelling during the Obama term ? It's a two way four lane boulevard with lots of sidestreets and cul de sacs....

And I hope the ex-CIA lady who wrote this essay still knows that information and raw intel from the field are fluid, not solid. There has been a very overt very hateful incident up in Wapiti that is very very concerning and she may want to prepare for a rebuttal or revision of her letter here.


Interesting essay. I would have to remind the essayist that her concept of “hatred” might depend on perspective. People who have lived in Cody or have chosen to live here value the history of the Equality State as well as the “live-and-let-live” attitude here. Equally valued are values of patriotism, religion, support for military & law enforcement and states rights. When viewing the current turmoil in many states/cities where rioting, looting & murder is precipitated based on hatred for Caucasian people, police and a lack of understanding of the evolution of US history. I believe that some folks in Park Co. fear that militant political correctness in response to civil unrest might land here. My parents experienced combat & destruction growing up in Germany of the 30s & 40s. Hate brought that to Germany. But, the hate, that drives the BLM riots, murder of police, elimination of national anthem, etc. is “hatred’ that also has no place in Park County.

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