August 23, 2003

Liberal Interpretation

I went to college in New Haven, Connecticut: the birthplace of Pizza! (Well, at least, it's reputed to be.)
Pepe's, Sally's, Modern, and a host of other joints -- seemingly established and unchanged since not long after the earth cooled -- offer the best coal-fired brick oven apizza (pronounced ah-BEETS) in the world.

Unfortunately, none of the great pizzerias in town deliver, and none of us in the off-campus apartment had a car. So, whenever the craving for 'zah hit us we always ended up ordering from *gagh* Domino's.

"Three large pies with [insert lengthy litany of assorted toppings here -- pepperoni and jalepeno for me!]".
"to be delivered to Fitch-Warner, apartment B-4."
"D-4?" the girl on the line asked.
"No, 'B-4'."
"D-4, that's what I said!"
"No, B-4. B as in 'boy'."
"Doy? What's 'doy?'."
An inability to understand foreign words isn't the only kind of language barrier. She and I spoke the same language, but she couldn't hear me!

I just read Walter Cronkite's latest (in fact, first, I'm made to understand)column in which he addresses the Liberal bias in the broadcast and print media.
While he asserts that the bias exists, I disagree completely with his hypothesis of why that is. He wrote:

"I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities -- the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated."

I don't believe that for a second. Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Libertarians and all other manner of political stripe see the same problems. But they have different ideas about the solutions based on their already held ideas about liability, rule of Law, and the role -- and jurisdiction -- of the Government that might address those problems.

According to some polls [that I can't site nor link to, but I remember them occurring]: most journalists (at least those that entered the field in the past 30 years or so -- though maybe it doesn't apply to Walter's generation) say that they wanted to be journalists so that they could help to change the world.
I believe that; because that's exactly the reason that I spent a semester taking a journalism course in the year between High School and my full-time matriculation to college.

But, that's not the part of Cronkite's essay that I wanted to blog about, nosiree.
It was his citing of a dictionary's definition of the word "liberal."
At the very end of the column, Uncle Walt quips:

"Incidentally, I looked up the definition of "liberal" in a Random House dictionary. It gave the synonyms for "liberal" as "progressive," "broad-minded," "unprejudiced," "beneficent." The antonyms it offered: "reactionary" and "intolerant."
I have always suspected those fine folks at Random House of being liberals. You just can't trust anybody these days."

This is where the language barrier comes in. Liberals would be proud of themselves after reading that definition. But, the accurate definition of "liberal" and the functional definition of "a Liberal" have become two different things.

"Progressive," supposedly in the advancement of civil liberties; but nowadays more about the centralization of authority. On the issues of smoking on private property, driving an SUV, buying a cup of piping hot coffee; I am liberal, and Liberals are "progressive."

"Broad-minded," when it comes to social-engineering, I guess. On the issues of taxing (read: punishing) freedom of choice through Targetted Taxation, placing partisan interests above Liberty (too many examples to site), or acknowledging cable and talk-radio's freedom to become whatever it will by no forces other than market forces; I am liberal, and Liberals are "broad-minded."

Incidentally, definition #5 in my American Heritage Dictionary defines "liberal" as:
"Favoring civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of public resources to promote social progress."
That's a more accurate definition than the one offered by Random House, so long as we understand that it's private property that's referred to as "public resources", and centralized governmental authority is the "social progress."

When we debate each other we need to agree on our definitions. When we call Liberals "Liberals", we allow them to consider themselves to be "liberal," and thus to wonder why anyone is agruing with them. 'Why, you must be a Fascist!'

If we think we do - but DON'T - understand each others' nomenclature, then we only end up talking past each other, dazed and confused about why we're not being understood. The sounds seems disconnected from any meaning, and we can't even seem to hear each other.
"Irresponsibility is bad," we'll say, "BAD!"
"Dad? Whaddya mean 'irresponsibilty is Dad?!'"

The Liberal elite, lately, seem to be not at all motivated by love of Liberty, but by transparently partisan opportunism; driven by a hatred -- fueled by resentment -- toward George W. Bush and, by association, anything he says, does or might be thinking.
Everytime Bush moves toward the "center" on an issue he forces the Democrats even further to the Left; not because they want to go there, per se, but because they - by pure Pavlovian conditioning re: being an underdog in the next election - have to oppose him.
It's called "the never-ending campaign," the lifestyle of a politician.

So, it's time to take back the word "liberal" from our friendly neighborhood "Liberals," and re-christen them with a moniker that's a bit more fitting.
I suggest "Tyrant."

UPDATE: scrappleface has a neato twist on the column, though the comments get a little brutal. Hey, I love Walter the C!!

Posted by Tuning Spork at August 23, 2003 05:38 PM

'All the Presidents Men' ruined journalism. Now, everyone wants 'to make a difference', not tell the facts honestly. And most these blow-dried blowhards wouldn't be caught dead near a tenement fire.
Among other things, Uncle Walt is a gun-grabber. Evidently, the right to defend one's self is not a 'civil liberty'(not to mention that collectively, it is a check on tyranny). How 'broad-minded'.

Posted by: Noel at August 24, 2003 01:53 PM

By the way, the "Liberal" party in Australia is actually the conservative party. Which means (given Australian politics) that they are slightly right-of-centre.

Posted by: PixyMisa at August 26, 2003 11:11 PM
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