Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are we liberal, or not so much?

We just passed new "hate crime" legislation in DC, but nothing like what's coming up in England. Melanie Phillips has an insightful piece. Well worth reading and thinking about if you consider yourself "liberal" or "progressive."

The true liberal position, that it is right and just to tolerate behaviour that deviates from the norm as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is deemed to be rank prejudice on the grounds that homosexuality is not ‘deviancy’ but normal. ‘Normality’ is thus rendered incoherent and absurd and accordingly destroyed altogether. The agenda is therefore not liberal tolerance but illiberal coercion against mainstream moral values, on the basis that the very idea of having normative moral principles at all is an expression of bigotry. So anyone who speaks out against gay rights is immediately vilified as a ‘homophobe’ and treated as a social and professional pariah.

h/t Peter Ould


Undergroundpewster said...

Does this cast out even moral relativists into the vilified darkness? If moral relativism would accept each group's moral values from its own particular point of reference, then that would have to include some of those groups opposed to same-sex "marriage" as being acceptable.

It seems to me that the liberal position of tolerance invariably leads to the problem of having to make a moral judgement when, by not accepting the existence of moral absolutes, it becomes impossible to make a judgement.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I, for one, have never been exactly sure what "progressive" means these days. It was a term that had a fairly coherent definition back in the days of Teddy Roosevelt and FDR's New Deal.

In contemporary politics as far as I can tell, it has become a moniker for people who either are ashamed to identify as "liberal" and use "progressive" because it sounds better, or else it's a bizarrely amorphous codeword for any number of social or economic views that are not really coherent in political discourse.

I don't find it a helpful descriptor at all.

TLF+ said...

We lack a common value system and vocabulary that can help us navigate issues. More and more, terms are empty (as Archer points out - "progressive" has very little meaning anymore) and the replacements like "tolerance" (as cited by Pewster) give no clarity - in fact, they seem to make things more polarized and chaotic.

The Archer of the Forest said...

Exactly! That's why I generally tend to stay out of contemporary political discussions because there is no common and sensical vocabulary to use. Terms like "family values" on the right and "progressiveness" on the left are really complete fluff.

And the purveyors of such terms always couch their arguments in "How can you be against [insert meaningless descriptor]?"

There is no coherent answer to that. I am not against family values or freedom or whatever, at least as I define it. Sadly, they use one descriptor as a synonym for another political hobby horse agenda item, and that's where any meaningful civic discourse breaks down into name calling and innuendo.

'Where are the great debaters of this age?' as St. Paul asks.