Some people, as Stephen the Mad Irishman from "Braveheart" said, aren't "right in the head." What other explanation could there be for a display of the Confederate flag beside a hanging black skeleton outside of a home on Elm Street in Oriskany?

The despicable exhibit was removed following a news report earlier this week when a neighbor complained about it to police. Though no law appears to have been broken, the horrifying exhibit is far removed from the norm of acceptable human behavior.

Regardless, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed state police to investigate what he called a racist display.

"These racists and violent symbols are offensive, are a clear act of intimidation and go against everything we believe in this state," Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo's directive came only a few days after he instructed state police to investigate the distribution of Ku Klux Klan material in the same area. For at least the third time in recent months, KKK materials were found dropped off in local residents’ driveways — the latest being Aug. 3 in a Rome neighborhood. Similar incidents were reported in Lee Center and Westmoreland in May.

Police investigated the earlier KKK incidents, although there appeared no crime was committed. Past reports show similar recruitment flyers were distributed in other upstate areas in recent years, including Liverpool, Johnstown and Saratoga Springs.

Sadly, such hate is pervasive all around us. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group that keeps tabs on active hate groups across the United States, lists 47 racist, nationalist and radical groups that have chapters or members within New York state. The Militant Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has chapters across the state.

Most of these racist rantings are protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression no matter how sick it might be. Right-thinking people need to use that same freedom of expression to expose the KKK and other hatemongers for what they are. Many of these deviants masquerade as Christians, but anyone who truly embraces that faith — or any other — knows they are quite the opposite.

We must find good in the bad. Remember, hate is a learned behavior. Use these sick acts to teach your children right from wrong. Only when we learn to love, not hate, will our world become a better place.