Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Top 5 Most (and Least) Hated States

It's not like there's a patriotism meter in the United States to track just how much the approximately 300 million citizens of this country love the homeland. If there was a meter, it probably got a little wonky when patriotism became equated with support for the President, and that definition seems to have fallen out of favor now that the nice Texan has left the White House. The U.S. has always had a federal vs. state thing going, though, and patriotism seems to break down along the same lines.

People might love their country, but they hate the state next door. Ohio and Michigan despise each other because of a football rivalry, and as a Maine resident I know there are plenty of people who think Massachusetts is a few steps shy of Stalin's Russia. Stephen King probably said it best in The Stand, when the residents of Ogunquit hold an emergency town meeting in the midst of a superflu decimating the planet. They vote not to expel the residents who are already sick, at which point someone suggests that the sick out-of-staters might be kicked out. And that's followed by angry vacationers saying how their business has helped to buoy up the Maine economy. Having been to countless town meetings here, I can fully believe that such arguments would happen here if such a pandemic happened.

Generalizing an entire state population isn't really the best thing to do. Still, plenty of people dislike their state or some other one enough to express their hatred online for all to see. I wanted to do a more comprehensive look at phrases, such as "[state] sucks," "fuck [state]," and "screw [state]," but that would take quite a bit of time and omits numerous phrases such as "[state] is displeasing to me," "I would rather hang from my earlobes than go to [state]," and "[state] has no redeeming qualities and we should tear it out of the country and throw it into the Gulf of Mexico to stop up the oil leak."

So I went with a simple tally of "I hate [state]" results on Google. And here are the states that have earned the most hate.

5. Arizona: 281,000 hits

"With this legislation, I shall make Arizona the fifth most hated state in the nation!"

Before Governor Jan Brewer signed a tough immigration bill into law in April, Arizona may have been in the comfortable middle range of hated states. Even with the bill, the home state of the Grand Canyon edges out Kansas, best known for conservative politics and their continued tolerance of super-bigot Fred Phelps and his clan. Now, with opponents charging that Arizona has given the thumbs-up to racial profiling, the second result for "I hate Arizona" is a Facebook group for "I hate Arizona's legalized profiling law." This only has 59 fans, but other sites reference the immigration law as well.

Other complaints: the heat, mostly, as well as other aspects of the weather, drivers, rattlesnakes, expensive candy, the Cardinals, and a lack of things to do.

4. New York: 334,000 hits

Not post-apocalyptic New York City

Some of this count no doubt comes from the inversion of the "I love New York" merchandise you can find in the Big Apple. And a lot of this hatred probably comes from bad experiences in the city rather than upstate New York. The city has a major cultural scene, it's a huge financial hub, and millions call it their home.

But there's quite a laundry list of reasons people don't like it, too. The pollution, street musicians, beggars, the number of people, the attitude of the people toward non-New Yorkers and other, rent prices and other expenses, crime, and the Yankees.

Not 3. Illinois: 564,000 hits

The reason Illinois has such a big count is this:

Everyone hates Nazis, so I did an advanced search removing them from the equation. Granted, this cuts down on any of the people who are actually complaining about any of the Nazi organizations in Illinois, or any of the whiners who have resorted to Godwin's Law in their issues with the state. But the adjusted result puts Illinois at 140,000 hits, or number 15 on the list of most hated states.

3. Kentucky: 751,000 hits

Even the dogs hate it.

It seems like the Bluegrass State is disproportionately high because of a sports rivalry. The Kentucky Wildcats of the University of Kentucky in Lexington have a major feud with the Louisville Cardinals of the University of Louisville in that city. Both are in Kentucky, which means the residents are quite the self-hating bunch. But it's easier to say "I hate Kentucky" or "Kentucky sucks" if you're a Louisville fan.

There are some complaints about the state rather than the university, though. They're the usual run of gripes: the attitude of the residents, deteriorating infrastructure, road rage, and the people who just plain don't like bluegrass music.

2. North Carolina: 882,000 hits

I would have thought South Carolina would be more hated. Considering the political divide, and the fact that South Carolina has pretty much been the headquarters of conservatism since the Civil War with the latest incident involving a jerkass senator calling both his Republican primary rival and the President "ragheads."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Thank You, South Carolina - The Race to Replace Disgrace
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But no, South Carolina garners only 52,900 hits and comes in 31st overall. North Carolina is another self-hating state thanks to sports. The University of North Carolina has a rivalry going with Duke University, and both are in the state but one faction hates Duke while the other hates "North Carolina." It looks like unpredictable weather, the fact that you have to take a side in the basketball war, and drivers make up some of the other issues boosting this count.

1. Nevada: 1,670,000 hits

Really? I never would have expected this. That count is just about a million shy of the population of the state itself. As far as I know, all that's there is Las Vegas, Area 51, and a wide array of nuclear bomb craters. What, are people upset that Nevada gave the presidency to Matt Santos in the fictional election in The West Wing?

Ooh, that durn Mexifornian'll never be MY President!

It seems that relative lack of things to do is what has led people to put Nevada down on the Internet, though. Some commentators say that they despise the state even if they like the people and other aspects of their lives, since it's so hot and dusty and dry. Some of these phrases come from MySpace drama queens who probably hate carrots with as much furor, though. The police make a few appearances as well, and complaints about video games featuring Nevada levels also add to the count.

So what are the least hated locales in the United States?

5. Washington State: 20,700 hits

I expected that Washington might show a false result by the amount of people complaining about the nation's capital. Instead, it came up with this modest figure. I've never been to the state, but it seems like it's got quite a bit of natural beauty in the Cascade Mountains and other areas, plus a terrific city in Seattle.

The complaints that do emerge are the usual fare: drivers and the weather. There are also a few complaints about the state and local government, but doesn't that happen everywhere?

4. New Mexico: 18,600 hits

Awe-inspiring landscapes and UFO crash sites. What's not to love?

Well, the first result is a blogger mildly chastising the state for providing a new home for her best friend, since she wants to be closer to her. And a bit of weather and stuff-to-do complaints show up before Google says the results are pretty much spent.

3. New Hampshire: 17,600 hits

It's always amusing to drive through New Hampshire and see the signs beckoning visitors for cheap booze and cigarettes, plus legal fireworks. It's like all of the fun stuff concentrated in the not-quite-center of New England. The state has a couple of nice little cities, plus the natural splendor of the White Mountains.

One blogger hated it enough to start a seven-part series on his feelings, with the first part looking at winter and black flies. Other complaints generally fall along the same lines before Google runs out of results.

2. North Dakota: 16,200 hits

I'm starting to think North Dakota is something of a national secret. The last I saw, the unemployment rate was next to nothing, and of course you get this rather favorable feedback. It's like a clubhouse that tries to pass itself off as lame to keep outsiders out. Those who do have grievances with the state say there's never-ending winter and nothing to do. I'm sure if they moved to Nevada they'd be fine.

1. Rhode Island: 11,500 hits

Rhode Island is the smallest state, so you really shouldn't pick on it. Plus it's got a nice-looking city and a lot of culture crammed into that modest acreage. Those who don't like it have the same old song and dance: weather, drivers, and stuff to do.

Interested in where your state ranked? Here they are!

Nevada: 1,670,000
North Carolina: 882,000
Kentucky: 751,000
New York: 334,000
Arizona: 281,000
Kansas: 276,000
Alabama: 258,000
Tennessee: 219,000
Indiana: 188,000
Georgia: 176,000
Minnesota: 162,000
Oklahoma: 157,000
Virginia: 156,000
Iowa: 150,000
Illinois: 140,000 (adjusted)
Texas: 133,000
Florida: 130,000
Oregon: 125,000
New Jersey: 116,000
Wisconsin: 109,000
Colorado: 105,000
California: 97,600
Ohio: 97,200
Maryland: 94,600
Missouri: 91,900
Michigan: 86,500
Nebraska: 80,800
Connecticut: 60,500
Louisiana: 53,300
Alaska: 53,000
South Carolina: 52,900
Hawaii: 50,400
Arkansas: 48,600
West Virginia: 44,900
Massachusetts: 44,500
Pennsylvania: 43,300
Idaho: 42,000
Maine: 41,900
Vermont: 39,200
Mississippi: 39,100
Montana: 31,500
Utah: 26,800
South Dakota: 23,300
Delaware: 22,000
Wyoming: 21,600
Washington: 20,700
New Mexico: 18,600
New Hampshire: 17,600
North Dakota: 16,200
Rhode Island: 11,500

Coming eventually: A most/least loved list.

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