Thursday, August 04, 2005

Butchering the Language

"Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved." -- Aristotle

Time for me to rant for a moment on something that is a huge pet peeve of mine: the butchering of the word "liberal".
I was listening to the radio yesterday on my way home from the office and I actually heard a caller on Wisconsin Public Radio accuse the president of the Ayn Rand Institute (they gets no link from me!) of being a "liberal". Needless to say, my head exploded. Good thing the sun roof was open.

Let's review for a moment, shall we, what "liberal" actually means, given that it's so carelessly thrown around these days:

Generous in a large and noble way.

That seems to be a virtue that both sides can agree on. Seems at odds with the philosophy of self-interest espoused by the Rand Institute, though.

Open-minded, unselfish; enlarged in spirit.

Again, who wouldn't be proud to be thought of this way? OK, maybe not Rick Santorum, but otherwise?

One who favors greater freedom in religion and politics.

By George, that sounds like something our Founding Fathers would have said! Could it be that our very country was founded on Liberalism?? Banish the thought!

Not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great freedom in the constitution or administration of government.

Now we see where the problem arises. Damn independent-minded liberal free thinkers!

As a liberal, I believe the only hope for our future is to find new and innovative ways to tackle the problems our society faces. A conservative believes we should go back to a simpler time, a Leave-It-To-Beaver-esque "Good Old Days" that never really existed. Every era of our country has been fraught with social injustice and conflict between various ideologies. It's only been through progressive liberal thought and action that these injustices have been remedied and these conflicts resolved. A noble work, and one that continues today in spite of unrelenting attacks from the conservative Right.

Joe Conason says it better than I ever could:

"Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most
powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to
undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate
decency and democratic instincts of the American people."


So, conservatives, time to brush up on your English. "Liberal" does not mean any idea or person with which you disagree. We are not out of the mainstream, unless you also consider the Founding Fathers out of the mainstream.

One last PSA: Anytime someone named Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly or, generally, any politician with the letter (R) after their name begins a sentence with "Liberals think...", they're about to lie through their teeth. Protect yourself accordingly.

2 comments:

PoppieProng said...

so frickin right!

DadOBot said...

The REALLY scary thing is that I started out my interest in politics by listening to none other than Rush Limbaugh. What a brilliant propagandist that guy is.

(Yeah, it took a year or so, but I finally saw the light.) We all make mistakes, right?

*DadOBot looks sheepish*