Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Much Left Unsaid - Part I

Geoffrey Stone published a list of 10 things he thinks defines liberalism. I'm guessing that he had a limit on the length of the essay, because he left a bunch of exceptions out of his list.

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others. This is at the very heart of liberalism. Liberals understand, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, that "time has upset many fighting faiths." Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.

Except when you disagree with liberal ideals. From the kerfuffle over Survivor to heckling of Republican speakers on college campuses to destroying pro-life displays I don't think that many liberals would agree with Mr. Stone's celebration of open debate. In fact, if you spent any time on liberal blogs you would see routine belittlement of opposition if not outright censorship.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support the civil rights movement, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment and the rights of gays and lesbians. (Note that a conflict between propositions 1 and 2 leads to divisions among liberals on issues like pornography and hate speech.)
Well, except when you don't like the differences. Black politicians are frequently called traitors or Uncle Tom. You also frequently see blogs on the left openly attack Democrats that don't toe the party line.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion expansion of the franchise; the elimination of obstacles to voting; "one person, one vote;" limits on partisan gerrymandering; campaign-finance reform; and a more vibrant freedom of speech. They believe, with Justice Louis Brandeis, that "the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people."

Does anyone think its a bit odd to include "individuals have a right and responsiblity to participate in public debate" and "campaign-finance reform" in the same belief? Not only is the so-called "reform" a limitaiton on speech, it just doesn't work.

The money spent on campaigns this season has broken all number of records. So the desired intent of "keeping money out of politics" has only succeeded in keeping individual's money out of the game. The big boys still get to play.

4. Liberals believe "we the people" are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind. It is liberals who have defended and continue to defend the freedom of the press to investigate and challenge the government, the protection of individual privacy from overbearing government monitoring, and the right of individuals to reproductive freedom. (Note that libertarians, often thought of as "conservatives," share this value with liberals.)

It is also liberals that who have defended the right of government to interfere in all manner of individual freedoms. From smoking bans to eating froie gras to forcing poeple to eat healthy, liberals only think that individuals have the right to choose when they agree with the decision.

Continue reading Part II here.

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