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Switch to Forum Live View When Did "Liberal" Become a Dirty Word?
5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 6:20AM #1
MedKit77
Posts: 1,384
Why is it that some people obviously believe that "liberal" is a label that should be used with derision and that those who have been labeled "liberal" should be despised and attacked at every turn? And why is it that if one person calls themselves "conservative" and another person doesn't agree with them on EVERY issue, they are automatically labeled "liberal"?

What is it about "liberals" that is so bad?

The dictionary definition of "liberal":

lib⋅er⋅al
   /ˈlɪbərəl, ˈlɪbrəl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl] Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective
1.     favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2.     (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3.     of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4.     favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5.     favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6.     of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7.     free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8.     open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9.     characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10.     given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11.     not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12.     of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13.     of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
–noun
14.     a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.
15.     (often initial capital letter) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.
Origin:
1325–75; ME < L līberālis of freedom, befitting the free, equiv. to līber free + -ālis -al 1

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/liberal

Can someone please explain to me why it is that any of the above definitions are worthy of hatred, derision, and attacks?

The dictionary definition of "conservative":

con⋅serv⋅a⋅tive
   /kənˈsɜrvətɪv/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective
1.     disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2.     cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3.     traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4.     (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5.     (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
6.     having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
7.     Mathematics. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
–noun
8.     a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
9.     a supporter of conservative political policies.
10.     (initial capital letter) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.
11.     a preservative.
Origin:
1350–1400; < LL conservātīvus, equiv. to L conservāt(us) (see conservation ) + -īvus -ive; r. ME conservatif < MF < L, as above


http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conservative

Can someone explain to me why "conservative" is better than "liberal"? I can see that they may be polar opposites, but I don't see how one is better than the other.

The dictionary definition of "moderate":

mod⋅er⋅ate
   /adj., n. ˈmɒdərɪt, ˈmɒdrɪt; v. ˈmɒdəˌreɪt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [adj., n. mod-er-it, mod-rit; v. mod-uh-reyt] Show IPA Pronunciation
adjective, noun, verb, -at⋅ed, -at⋅ing.
–adjective
1.     kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense: a moderate price.
2.     of medium quantity, extent, or amount: a moderate income.
3.     mediocre or fair: moderate talent.
4.     calm or mild, as of the weather.
5.     of or pertaining to moderates, as in politics or religion.
–noun
6.     a person who is moderate in opinion or opposed to extreme views and actions, esp. in politics or religion.
7.     (usually initial capital letter) a member of a political party advocating moderate reform.
–verb (used with object)
8.     to reduce the excessiveness of; make less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous: to moderate the sharpness of one's words.
9.     to preside over or at (a public forum, meeting, discussion, etc.).
–verb (used without object)
10.     to become less violent, severe, intense, or rigorous.
11.     to act as moderator; preside.
Origin:
1350–1400; ME moderate (adj.), moderaten (v.) < L moderātus (ptp. of moderārī to restrain, control), equiv. to moderā- v. s. (see modest ) + -tus ptp. suffix


http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moderate

I suspect that most people fall into the category of "moderate", though this seems to be a group that is largely ignored by those who like to label anyone who doesn't agree with them as "liberal", and to pretend that being "liberal" is a bad thing.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 9:09AM #2
itty
Posts: 2,949
Kit I can't be certain but I think that talk radio especially the likes of Limbaugh and Hanniday are at least partly responsible. I also think part of the phenomena comes from Robertson and Dobson, et.al.

Its a good tactic to divide and conquer. I also think this extreme polarization is at the heart of the morass this country finds itself in today.  Politicos such as the likes of Carl Rove have seen an opportunity and driven a huge wedge into the heart of the nation.  I live in a 'red' state. Next door to me is a 'blue' state. I get so tired of these labels. Why can't be live in the United States?
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 1:31PM #3
tameless_heart
Posts: 2,084
It became a dirty word the second someone took offense to it... kind of like it is a dirty word to consider oneself conservative. IMHO it all comes down to extremists and the reactions the middle guys have in response to it... from both sides. So liberal might seem evil to the guy who has teh extreme conservative yelling in his ears....
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 10:04PM #4
Heretic_for_Christ
Posts: 5,488
When did "liberal" become a dirty word? When no one challenged neocons' efforts to make it a dirty word. When reporters were cowed into bending over backward for Dubya for FEAR of being called liberal. When liberals themselves defensively said, "No! No! We're not liberals!" for FEAR of losing an election that they went on to lose anyway. When intellectuals responded to quasi-fascist anti-intellectual demagogy with a plaintive bleating cry: "Baa-a-a-a-a!"

It is why the Big Lie works -- or has worked until now.

It is why the Karl Rove playbook works -- or has worked until now.

Lies and demagogy are like weeds that have been deliberately planted in a garden: they WILL grow and crowd out other, more beneficial plants IF they are allowed to spread unchecked.
I prayed for deliverance from the hard world of facts and logic to the happy land where fantasy and prejudice reign. But God spake unto me, saying, "No, keep telling the truth," and to that end afflicted me with severe Trenchant Mouth. So I'm sorry for making cutting remarks, but it's the will of God.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:28PM #5
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,760
Within the context of religious discussion?

"Liberal" became a dirty word about the same time "traditional" did.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:32PM #6
gillyflower
Posts: 5,325
I don't think either one is a dirty word. I am quite traditional in some ways and liberal in others. I'm conservative on some things and non-traditional about others. I'm not really box sized, myself.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. Marcus Aurelius
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:44PM #7
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,760
Lots of words and terms have gotten "agendized" meanings as of late, IMO. Examples I've argued on these and other forums are "tolerance" and "hate."

But the list goes on. I recently have been thinking of a tongue-in-cheek list of the "new" meanings for various words and terms.

"Socalist": Anything that runs counter to the neo-conservative philosophy.

"Fascist": Anything that runs counter to neo-liberalism.

"Religious extremism.": Any mention of God or faith in an argument, point of view or commentary.

"Radical Atheism.": Any expression of questioning or doubt toward religion.

"Homophobic": Anything GLADD might disagree with.

"Godless social decay": Anything Focus on the Family might disagree with.

"Racist": Anything Jesse Jackson might disagree with.

"Femi-Nazi": Any woman who disagrees with Rush Limbaugh.

"Hate Speech": Anything that anybody says or could say that might not be exactly what somebody else wanted to hear.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:48PM #8
gillyflower
Posts: 5,325
I think that there really are definitions for those words and sometimes people believe those things. In that case, they are racists and homophobic or one of the other things. If you can't own what you are, then you have a problem.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. Marcus Aurelius
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:51PM #9
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,760
[QUOTE=gillyflower;857412]I don't think either one is a dirty word. I am quite traditional in some ways and liberal in others. I'm conservative on some things and non-traditional about others. I'm not really box sized, myself.[/QUOTE]

Nobody really is "box-sized." I continually find that when I think I have people pegged according to my own preconceptions, they surprise me.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 29, 2008 - 12:10AM #10
Heretic_for_Christ
Posts: 5,488
mytmouse,

I like your new definitions, but with a caveat -- the fact that rhetoric becomes hyperbolized does not mean that the terms are meaningless or can never be used. Sometimes, they really do apply. I resent misuse of words exactly because it makes it difficult to use those words even when they are precisely applicable.
I prayed for deliverance from the hard world of facts and logic to the happy land where fantasy and prejudice reign. But God spake unto me, saying, "No, keep telling the truth," and to that end afflicted me with severe Trenchant Mouth. So I'm sorry for making cutting remarks, but it's the will of God.
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