Thursday, July 06, 2006

Who, exactly, is closeminded?

Wikipedia defines "Liberalism" as the following:

liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. Broadly speaking, liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, especially of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports relatively free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of minorities are protected.

While that may hold no resemblance to the politics of today's American liberals, I think my argument (which I haven't made yet) is even further elucidated by the OED definition of "liberal.":

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) indicates that the word liberal has long been in the English language with the meanings of "befitting free men, noble, generous" as in liberal arts; also with the meaning "free from restraint in speech or action", as in liberal with the purse, or liberal tongue, usually as a term of reproach but, beginning 1776–88 imbued with a more favorable sense by Edward Gibbon and others to mean "free from prejudice, tolerant."

So, it is with great irony that I read the following comment over at Blue Girl's joint. Basically, what was said, was that the individual would never date a conservative. Go read it, I'll wait.

What part of "free from prejudice, tolerant" is expressed by refusing to even consider dating a "conservative?" How many liberals have turned away in disgust after discovering the person they thought was "normal" was revealed as a conservative. It has happened to me. I'm not crying crocodile tears, because if someone is so narrow minded that they see no value in diversity of thought than I'm not interested in knowing them.

About nine years ago, I joined a pregnancy board. For the uninitiated, those are internet boards for women who are all "due" about the same time. While pregnant, the topics remained safely within the realm of swollen ankles and false contractions. When the glow of the new baby wore off, things began to get a bit more hectic. Discussions occasionally became political. As the roller-coaster of angry debate ensued, eventually people where kicked off, or banned, or left. Eventually, the group was divided into two groups; a "right" and "left." But even that was not bland enough, and further division ensued. I have no idea if either of the groups exist anymore, but I imagine they both have dissolved into a state of milk toast.

The problem was, there could be absolutely no dissension. What started out as politically driven segregation, was eventually finely tuned down to differences in habits as inane as TV watching. For me, it was an inability for people to deal with differences. Everyone says they do not want to be surrounded by people who think exactly as they do, but that is a lie. Most people do, on both sides of the political isle.

Which brings me back to the man who will not date a conservative. That is fine, he can do what he wants. But, I would be interested to know how he reconciles that with the basic tenets of the "liberal" label he attaches to himself.