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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Liberal Open-mindedness?

In a conversation with a die-hard liberal (no names but I have known her since the moment of my birth quite intimately), I told her how close-minded I found liberals to be. She scoffed at the idea that a liberal could be close-minded. How could they be close-minded, when liberals are tolerant of every form of deviance, do little to criticize aberrant behavior and even take the next step of ratifying such conduct into a right whose free expression can be enforced by the power of the state? How could liberals be close-minded when they profess no boundaries on conduct, speech or thought?

Today, John Stossel writes about this in "Who's Really Open?". He talks about the limited access he received for his new book from liberal media outlets. However, conservatives, who disagree with Stossel's libertarian positions, granted him air time and readily debated the issues.

Stossel refers to John Stuart Mill who argued "that debating people you disagree with was the only way to develop wisdom".

There is little "debate" taking place when liberals replace reasoned arguments with name-calling. The past 40 years have led to a degeneration of discussion from "point-counterpoint" to pejoratives about the other person like "racist" or "Hitler". That is sophomoric. It demeans them.

As a teenaged liberal, I adored the Buckley TV show where a topic would be debated by learned people with civility and humor. Today, many politically aware citizens have never read William Buckley on culture, Milton Friedman on school choice, Thomas Sowell on economics or other noted conservatives to see what alternative to the liberal position may be. I, a reformed liberal, have been reading liberal material for almost 50 years. I have only had access to conservative and libertarian writings for the past decade or so bit it has added to my universe of knowledge. As a liberal, I argued from what I felt the answer should be. Now, I seek to know what the answer should be. (In a relativist view, there is nothing to know because truth is what any person thinks it is).

A liberal once told me that his opinion may be uninformed but "everyone is entitled to his opinion." That is fine but if one seeks to use his vote or access to media to affect public policy, one should seek the best solution with some empirical support. Today, the best solution is irrelevant as scoring points for your side has taken precedence. The Left does not have the empirical data or historic/philosophic context on their side. So what remains is to deny access to the counter argument or employ name-calling. Such is a losing position.

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