Hate.

It's a strong word that we all have used in our lives.

I can remember being a little kid who was hurt and angry with the five girls who bullied or assaulted me on a daily basis and screaming "I hate you!" at the top of my lungs to them.

To this day I absolutely hate peanut butter.

If given the choice, I would rather starve to death than eat peanut butter.

In the 1828 version of Noah Webster's Dictionary of the English Language, hate is defined as: To dislike greatly; to have a great aversion to.

Given that my notion of hate is clearly in agreement with the definition from one of the earliest American dictionaries, perhaps you will then understand my confusion with how the word is now being used in our culture.

It would seem that, quite simply, if you don't like or agree with an individual's or group's ideas, values, morals, standards etc. you are practicing hate; you are a hater.

If a speaker, leader, official or pastor speaks about their ideas, values, morals, standards etc., which are in direct conflict with others, they are said to be spreading or preaching hate.

Not only am I completely baffled by the usage of the word, I am also getting pretty ticked off about it.

If I have a difference of opinion, whether in thought or expressed in the written or spoken word, I am somehow showing hatred? Really?

Recently I had a conversation with someone I hadn't seen in many years.

We talked about what we had been up to, our jobs and our families.

She informed me that her daughter was gay and that she couldn't wait for the day that same-sex marriages would be legal in Pennsylvania.

I smiled and nodded in polite acknowledgment of her statement and opinion.

"Oh, you support gay marriage too?" she asked.

"Well, not exactly," I replied.

"So I guess that you are one of those right-wing, holy-rolling, (explicative) hate mongers!" she blasted back to me with a look in her eyes that reminded me of a demon-possessed Jack Nicholson in "The Shining."

"Well, not exactly," I said once again.

"Why do you (explicative) hate homosexuals? Why do you hate my daughter?" she added.

"Are you serious?" I replied as I tried to discern if I was having a nightmare, stuck in the Twilight Zone or was being "Punked" by Ashton Kutcher.

"I have gay friends and gay family. I hate no one," I added.

After she blasted me a bit more, she stormed out of the building spewing more obscenities all the way.

Merriam-webster.com now defines hate as: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or a sense of injury. Extreme dislike or antipathy; Loathing.

And I am the one who hates?

Sadly, she is not alone in her illogical and irrational thinking.

I read and hear this same nonsense all the time.

Evidently, it is no longer OK to have a difference of opinion, and it is definitely not OK to express it.

I am thinking that the English language geniuses in the dictionary profession need to get their act together and add to or completely change the definition of the word "hate."

You guys are slacking.

Oh and by the way, if you aren't thrilled to death with our president or the millions of "illegal immigrants" in our country, you my friend, are a racist.

Bet you didn't know that either.

I guess those geniuses had better update that page as well.