What Is A "liberal"

eggmaceggmac Members Join Date: 2003-03-03 Member: 14246Posts: 1,152
and why is it a derogative term?
As you probably know I live in Europe and the term "liberal" appaently has a completely different meaning than in the USA. Here, the liberal political movement is mostly concerned about a liberal market. So they stand for neo-conservative capitalism.

Yet, in this forum I've often seen the term liberal used on more social political ideas and also very often as a derogative term. It's used frequently in hate-speeches as well.

How come the conservatives use this term in such a way? And is the term "conservative" or any other usual term used as an insult by leftists in the USA? Because I really don't know...
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  • Marine0IMarine0I Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-14 Member: 8639Posts: 1,870
    Liberal = left side of politics. Since the rise of Bush I have witness this side change from more people orientated politics to a rabid, foaming mob - moaning ceaselessly about Bush, acting like he is the greatest evil that ever happened, protesting his Government and wars with inane signs like "No Blood For Oil", and "Bush = Hitler", pushing stupid slurs like "Bush is a deserter" and creating crude sexual based floats to ridicule him, creating laughable yet viciously false propaganda movies etc

    Amidst all that, any really intelligent leftwinger is left talking quietly in the corner, and no one actuallly notices him. And unfortunately, all the above generates in me an angry, visceral response that these people are idiots, and not just idiots, they're rude, childish idiots. Its not true of course, I'm sure most people arent, but these jackasses are coming to characterise the liberals imo. Which is also why I suspect American politics are now so polarised. You watch any competition in school sports - its pretty heated. But when one side starts hurling insults at the other, then the temperature and pressure goes up a notch - but thats another thread.

    Conservative isn't an insult automatically - and neither is liberal. Neo-conservative is one of those socialist buzzwords - spoken the same way one would pronouce FASCIST! It is frequently invoked in the same line as Halliburton, Racist, Oil, Halliburton, War Criminals, Fundamentalists, Halliburton and Idiots.

    To summarise, I dont consider liberal to be an insulting term, although it definately defines my political opponents. In fact - I'm actually a member of the Young Liberals, which is the youth movement of the highly conservative Liberal Party of Australia which is currently in power.
  • The_FinchThe_Finch Members Join Date: 2002-11-13 Member: 8498Posts: 661
    It's important to note that broad uses of words like "liberal" and "conservative" are usually generalizations and don't include everybody under their umbrella. That said...


    The American use of the word "liberal" is generally used to describe anybody with left-of-center political views. This can include anybody from moderate members of the Democratic party like Senator Lieberman to more radical Democrats like Senator Nancy Pelosi. It also includes people who purport more extremist ideas like socialism and communism, even though most Democratic party members reject such ideas and neither have been particularly popular through U.S. history.

    On the other hand, "conservative" is applied to any right-of-center politics. Republicans make up the bulk of this title, from moderate Republicans like Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (I <3 Sen. Snowe) to "ultra-conservatives" like Senator Rick Santorum. "Neo-conservative" generally refers to big government Republicans who favor an interventionist foreign policy as opposed to the traditionally isolationist policy of yore. "Conservative" also applies to many religious groups in the "religious right" that are usually led by Fundamentalist clerics like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The term can also apply to the Constitutional Party, even though they're about as popular as the socialists.

    It's also important to note that there are "centrists" as well. This term is even more vague than "liberal" and "conservative" since it can include anybody who doesn't have membership to the two aforementioned camps. It can include Libertarians, Centrists, Independents and others who don't ascribe to any political belief.

    The terms are used because it's quicker than having to elaborately define another person's position. It can be used in a derogatory manner, but it's just as frequently a simple statement of location on the political spectrum. I know that some conservatives consider "neo-conservative" an insult. Pat Buchanan has dubbed his political following as "paleo-conservative" in order to differentiate between him and Bush.

    QUOTE
    Since the rise of Bush I have witness this side change from more people orientated politics to a rabid, foaming mob - moaning ceaselessly about Bush, acting like he is the greatest evil that ever happened, protesting his Government and wars with inane signs like "No Blood For Oil", and "Bush = Hitler", pushing stupid slurs like "Bush is a deserter" and creating crude sexual based floats to ridicule him, creating laughable yet viciously false propaganda movies etc


    And when a Democrat is in the White House, conservatives foam at the mouth with equally inane slurs. Both parties are equally rediculous when they don't have their horse in the lead.

    For reference, I fall under the "centrist" category as a psudeo-Libertarian. Libertarians are usually fiscally conservative and socially liberal (in the maximum freedom sense of the word). I agree with a lot of their ideas, but I don't agree with them on everything. I've become so disgusted with Democrats and Republicans that I hope both parties have a meltdown and splinter into different groups.
    QUOTE (X Stickman)
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  • SpoogeSpooge Thunderbolt missile in your cheerios Members Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 67Posts: 1,531 Fully active user
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Sep 12 2004, 07:42 PM)
    I've become so disgusted with Democrats and Republicans that I hope both parties have a meltdown and splinter into different groups.

    This last piece should be followed by "again." in my opinion wink-fix.gif Otherwise, good show Finch smile-fix.gif

    I'll take a shot at simplifying this definition a little for the drive-thru types:

    When a pundit (someone talking politics on TV) mentions that someone is a Liberal, they're usually comparing them to someone who fully supports New Deal politics (ie healthcare for everyone, larger social security payments, increased welfare, increased minimum wage, etc) and political activists (ie supporters of women's liberation in the 60's, anti global traders, those who believe the Constitution is a flexible "living" document, etc).

    Again, this is the simplistic definition but since politics has devolved into sound-bites I figured I'd give the happy meal version.
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    This little quiz is a pretty good clif notes for political denominations in the US. http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html
  • WheeeeWheeee Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2003-02-18 Member: 13713Posts: 4,262 Fully active user
    see the urbandictionary definitions to get a glimpse of why the word liberal is now used in a derogatory manner. you see, "liberalism" is not necessarily associated with left-of-center politics, but more with a sub-group within that political spectrum, and the same way with conservatives.
    QUOTE (EEK)
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  • Marine0IMarine0I Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-14 Member: 8639Posts: 1,870
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Sep 13 2004, 12:42 PM)
    And when a Democrat is in the White House, conservatives foam at the mouth with equally inane slurs. Both parties are equally rediculous when they don't have their horse in the lead.

    Well, not in Australia - there was no real fuss about any American president until GWB came along, then it got very heated very quickly....
  • SpoogeSpooge Thunderbolt missile in your cheerios Members Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 67Posts: 1,531 Fully active user
    Think more along the lines of the religious-Right in the 80's. Women in long dresses complaining about everything. Anyone remember Mazes and Monsters? These are the people who thought D&D would rot our brains and make us devil worshipers. Obviously, the pendulum has swung back.
  • illuminexilluminex Members, Constellation Join Date: 2004-03-13 Member: 27317Posts: 784
    Libertarians are not really that socially liberal; they believe that having the government dictate social policy and morality is dangerous, and therefore issues such as homosexuality are best left alone by the federal government. They are more of an economic movement, favoring privatization of the school system, highway system etc (ideas that are actually pretty good, if you think about them).

    My major issue with the Libertarians is their isolationist viewpoint on foreign policy, a very "head in sand" attitude on something so important.

    If the Libertarians would adjust their foreign policy viewpoint, I would probably register as such.

    In any case, liberals are so disliked in many circles in America now because of a few major things:

    1.) They were (generally) sympathisers to Communism and Socialism during the time when those were the major enemies of America.

    2.) They constituted the bulk of the "hippy" movement in the late 1960's.

    3.) Liberals tend to be immature and elitistic. If you do not like what they have to say, you are "stupid."

    *Note the word "tend."

    Now, not all liberal ideas are bad. I feel that some elements of the liberal movement have had a positive effect on American society. Sexual freedom is something I cherish dearly, and feel that the government, local or federal, should not be dictating who I do on my couch late at night. I feel the drug war is a waste of money. If someone wants to smoke up a little weed, fine, not my business, not the government's business.

    However, they tend to be imbalanced on these issues, which is why the Libertarian thought on these social issues is far better. Liberal idealism tends to disregard personal responsibility, and looks upon people as victims.
  • AllUrHiveRblong2usAllUrHiveRblong2us By Your Powers Combined... Members Join Date: 2002-12-20 Member: 11244Posts: 4,646
    edited September 2004
    Eh you know what? Screw it.
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  • PerditionPerdition Members Join Date: 2004-07-02 Member: 29692Posts: 606
    As a semi-educated 16 year old, i'm learning quite a bit from reading through these posts. I finally know that a liberal is more than just a little whiney school girl. The first time I ever met a 'liberal' that person turned out to be a true anti-Bush administration radical...who didn't mind disrespecting my Father for being military, or me for being his son. Called my father a murderer, and went on with her business. I took a real disliking to anyone of that category. But now I feel more educated on the subject. biggrin-fix.gif
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  • reasareasa Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-10 Member: 8010Posts: 2,367
    QUOTE (Perdition Flamethrower @ Sep 13 2004, 05:03 PM)
    The first time I ever met a 'liberal' that person turned out to be a true anti-Bush administration radical...who didn't mind disrespecting my Father for being military, or me for being his son. Called my father a murderer, and went on with her business. I took a real disliking to anyone of that category. But now I feel more educated on the subject. biggrin-fix.gif

    While she was going on with her business you should have slapped her upside the head.
  • The_FinchThe_Finch Members Join Date: 2002-11-13 Member: 8498Posts: 661
    I don't have a problem with liberals and I would have smacked her upside the head.

    Being in the military gives you a whole new respect for those that wear the uniform. I had random people thank me for my service when I was sitting in airports in uniform. I still thank people I see in uniform for their service.

    Being a member of any political affiliation doesn't give one the right to inordinate asshattery.
    QUOTE (X Stickman)
    America's Army taught me that I'm more likely to be shot in the back by my own teammates, then have my sexuality insulted as well as accusations made towards my mother's sex life. If it's a recruitment tool, it's a damn poor one.
  • N1RampageN1Rampage Members Join Date: 2003-12-15 Member: 24420Posts: 208
    TRUE MEANING OF LIBERAL! WARNING!

    Liberal = "OMG! J00 not 0n Ge0rge \/\/, Boosh'z S1de!!!1 WTHGGBBQ!!" Tr4itorz!!!! GG!!!".
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    QUOTE (N1Rampage @ Sep 13 2004, 07:49 PM)
    TRUE MEANING OF LIBERAL! WARNING!

    Liberal = "OMG! J00 not 0n Ge0rge \/\/, Boosh'z S1de!!!1 WTHGGBBQ!!" Tr4itorz!!!! GG!!!".

    I want my 10 seconds back.
  • ForlornForlorn Banned Join Date: 2002-11-01 Member: 2634Posts: 6,495
    QUOTE (moultano @ Sep 13 2004, 09:32 PM)
    QUOTE (N1Rampage @ Sep 13 2004, 07:49 PM)
    TRUE MEANING OF LIBERAL! WARNING!

    Liberal = "OMG! J00 not 0n Ge0rge \/\/, Boosh'z S1de!!!1 WTHGGBBQ!!" Tr4itorz!!!! GG!!!".

    I want my 10 seconds back.

    Sure, but it will cost you 20.
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  • WheeeeWheeee Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2003-02-18 Member: 13713Posts: 4,262 Fully active user
    QUOTE (Forlorn @ Sep 13 2004, 09:49 PM)
    QUOTE (moultano @ Sep 13 2004, 09:32 PM)
    QUOTE (N1Rampage @ Sep 13 2004, 07:49 PM)
    TRUE MEANING OF LIBERAL! WARNING!

    Liberal = "OMG! J00 not 0n Ge0rge \/\/, Boosh'z S1de!!!1 WTHGGBBQ!!" Tr4itorz!!!! GG!!!".

    I want my 10 seconds back.

    Sure, but it will cost you 20.

    can't believe it takes you 10 seconds to read a line.


    +10
    QUOTE (EEK)
    Don't assume that because I said something it means I actually was thinking that the core of the sun was going to be replaced with hot dogs.
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    edited September 2004
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 13 2004, 10:09 PM)
    QUOTE (Forlorn @ Sep 13 2004, 09:49 PM)
    QUOTE (moultano @ Sep 13 2004, 09:32 PM)
    QUOTE (N1Rampage @ Sep 13 2004, 07:49 PM)
    TRUE MEANING OF LIBERAL! WARNING!

    Liberal = "OMG! J00 not 0n Ge0rge \/\/, Boosh'z S1de!!!1 WTHGGBBQ!!" Tr4itorz!!!! GG!!!".

    I want my 10 seconds back.

    Sure, but it will cost you 20.

    can't believe it takes you 10 seconds to read a line.


    +10

    Look at that sentence. If it takes less than 10 seconds to parse that garbled crap you need to unplug for a while and read a book. tounge.gif
  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Members Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Posts: 7,018
    Liberal and Conservitive are just made up terms so that the two opposing political sides can ignore eachothers points of view by blanketing the entire other side under a negitive connetation. I am a Liberal, but if I am ever in a discussion with someone I consider to be more conservitive than me, I'm not going to stand by and let them spew that kind of closed minded crap at me, if they can't talk about serious issues like adults, then they can just stand in the corner of the room being alone and uncomfortable.
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  • marcemarce Members Join Date: 2004-08-24 Member: 30869Posts: 466
    QUOTE (Marine01 @ Sep 12 2004, 09:00 PM)
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Sep 13 2004, 12:42 PM)
    And when a Democrat is in the White House, conservatives foam at the mouth with equally inane slurs. Both parties are equally rediculous when they don't have their horse in the lead.

    Well, not in Australia - there was no real fuss about any American president until GWB came along, then it got very heated very quickly....

    not while you were alive at least; or me for that matter, but I think you'll find there was still very public interest in the american presidency before GWB, especially when Australia first publically aligned themselves with America first and foremost after (and during) WW2.

    all the way with LBJ
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  • EpidemicEpidemic Dark Force Gorge Members Join Date: 2003-06-29 Member: 17781Posts: 3,104 Advanced user
    QUOTE (Marine01 @ Sep 13 2004, 04:00 AM)
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Sep 13 2004, 12:42 PM)
    And when a Democrat is in the White House, conservatives foam at the mouth with equally inane slurs. Both parties are equally rediculous when they don't have their horse in the lead.

    Well, not in Australia - there was no real fuss about any American president until GWB came along, then it got very heated very quickly....

    I think it's rather his actions that his politically alignment..

    Anyway, as in dictionary. com

    QUOTE
    # Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
    # Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    # Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.


    I fail to see how they are bad traits..
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  • WheeeeWheeee Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2003-02-18 Member: 13713Posts: 4,262 Fully active user
    edited September 2004
    as i said, liberalism isn't associated as much with the ideology any more as a group of people who espouse the ideology, with any of the following traits: close-mindedness, hypocrisy, or ignorance. the dictionary.com definitions aren't bad traits, but as always the lowest common denominator is used by pundits to blanket the 'other side' with all sorts of slanderous claims, and people adopt it because it's easy and makes them feel more secure in their political beliefs.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
    QUOTE (EEK)
    Don't assume that because I said something it means I actually was thinking that the core of the sun was going to be replaced with hot dogs.
  • MelatoninMelatonin Babbler Members, Constellation Join Date: 2003-03-15 Member: 14551Posts: 1,033
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 14 2004, 07:42 AM)
    as i said, liberalism isn't associated as much with the ideology any more as a group of people who espouse the ideology, with any of the following traits: close-mindedness, hypocrisy, or ignorance.

    I dislike group X, because group X make generalisations.
  • StakhanovStakhanov Members Join Date: 2003-03-12 Member: 14448Posts: 2,179 Advanced user
    QUOTE (Marine01 @ Sep 13 2004, 03:00 AM)
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Sep 13 2004, 12:42 PM)
    And when a Democrat is in the White House, conservatives foam at the mouth with equally inane slurs. Both parties are equally rediculous when they don't have their horse in the lead.

    Well, not in Australia - there was no real fuss about any American president until GWB came along, then it got very heated very quickly....

    I don't see why it surprises you , afaik your people tend to like exaggeration... remember when Chirac ordered nuclear tests in Mururoa ? "They're killing all our fishes !" was the reaction of an average australian tounge.gif
  • marcemarce Members Join Date: 2004-08-24 Member: 30869Posts: 466
    edited September 2004
    americans wouldn't exactly enjoy having nuclear testing that close to them either, and that was beside the point as it was more the fact that they seemed only to be doing it so as to get their time in before they signed the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

    and all of that is beside the point anyway; it's completely apples and oranges.
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  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Members Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Posts: 7,018
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 14 2004, 02:42 AM)
    as i said, liberalism isn't associated as much with the ideology any more as a group of people who espouse the ideology, with any of the following traits: close-mindedness, hypocrisy, or ignorance. the dictionary.com definitions aren't bad traits, but as always the lowest common denominator is used by pundits to blanket the 'other side' with all sorts of slanderous claims, and people adopt it because it's easy and makes them feel more secure in their political beliefs.

    The problem with this is that both sides associate all those traits with the other side, and none of those traits are acctually characterisic of either side.
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  • milton_friedmanmilton_friedman Members Join Date: 2004-08-11 Member: 30535Posts: 87
    edited September 2004
    There is a difference between the definition of liberal via dictionary and liberal politically.

    If you were to take Liberal by its true definition, about 95% of Americans would be liberal.

    Here in the United states:

    Liberal: Tends to favor more government control over the economy via regulation and taxation (Tax the rich to fund social programs aimed at helping lower income citizens). They favor policies in which the government has control of what corporations/businesses do via prices, who they hire, workers compensation, minimum wage etc (after Reagan took office, this avocation of price controls and direct control of what corporations/business has dropped) Socially, it advocates a hands off approach. It favors you making your own decisions what you do in your private life. Liberals usually associate with he democratic party.

    Conservative: Tends to favor less government control over the economy. Conservatives generally believe in more economic freedom. "You are more responsible on what job you have, how much you earn and how you spend it". They tend to dislike many social programs advocating personal responsibility. Socially on the other hand, they tend to want to be more involved. They believe its the governments responsibility to decide and enforce what is deem as "anti social behavior". Conservatives usually associate with the Republican party.

    Libertarian: Pretty much both conservative and liberal. They believe economically and socially, the individual should be responsible of what they do. If you ever watch 20/20, John Stossel is a perfect example of a libertarian. It’s important to note, when it comes to highly controversial topic (i.e. abortion, foreign policy), libertarians branch away from this generalization and make personal judgments. For example the abortion, currently libertarians are split 50:50 on this issue.

    I’ve studied other countries political system and it is quite clear, liberal/conservative in the US is very different between the conservative/liberal in Europe (and much of the world) as explained in other posts. It is in my opinion, after looking into many different party ideologies across Europe (specifically Brittan, France and Germany) all of these would not qualify as Republican and would be considered by US standards 80% socialist, 20% democrat tounge.gif. Just an observation to keep in mind when discussing the defination of liberal/conservative using US standards biggrin-fix.gif .
  • the_x5the_x5 the Xzianthian Members, Constellation Join Date: 2004-03-02 Member: 27041Posts: 3,175
    I don't like a generalized grouping of people. As long as there is a group called us and a group called them there will be conflict.

    QUOTE
    Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have **** friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.


    So stop trying to define catagories of division please. Ok?
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  • WheeeeWheeee Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2003-02-18 Member: 13713Posts: 4,262 Fully active user
    QUOTE (Swiftspear @ Sep 14 2004, 12:37 PM)
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 14 2004, 02:42 AM)
    as i said, liberalism isn't associated as much with the ideology any more as a group of people who espouse the ideology, with any of the following traits: close-mindedness, hypocrisy, or ignorance. the dictionary.com definitions aren't bad traits, but as always the lowest common denominator is used by pundits to blanket the 'other side' with all sorts of slanderous claims, and people adopt it because it's easy and makes them feel more secure in their political beliefs.

    The problem with this is that both sides associate all those traits with the other side, and none of those traits are acctually characterisic of either side.

    of course not, but there are always people of each group who *are* ignorant, or close-minded, or hypocritical. and people sieze upon that as a sort of straw-man to make the other side look bad.
    QUOTE (EEK)
    Don't assume that because I said something it means I actually was thinking that the core of the sun was going to be replaced with hot dogs.
  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Members Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Posts: 7,018
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 14 2004, 01:42 PM)
    QUOTE (Swiftspear @ Sep 14 2004, 12:37 PM)
    QUOTE (Wheeee @ Sep 14 2004, 02:42 AM)
    as i said, liberalism isn't associated as much with the ideology any more as a group of people who espouse the ideology, with any of the following traits: close-mindedness, hypocrisy, or ignorance. the dictionary.com definitions aren't bad traits, but as always the lowest common denominator is used by pundits to blanket the 'other side' with all sorts of slanderous claims, and people adopt it because it's easy and makes them feel more secure in their political beliefs.

    The problem with this is that both sides associate all those traits with the other side, and none of those traits are acctually characterisic of either side.

    of course not, but there are always people of each group who *are* ignorant, or close-minded, or hypocritical. and people sieze upon that as a sort of straw-man to make the other side look bad.

    Yup yup and yup.
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  • eggmaceggmac Members Join Date: 2003-03-03 Member: 14246Posts: 1,152
    milton friedman, thanks for that reply, that's also how I see it.

    Yet what I still cannot understand is why the term liberal is used so often as an insult, especially on these forums, in comparison to other political terms. There is really some ground-rooted hate and fear in some people apparently and I was trying to find out why this is so and if they actually know what they're talking about.

    As for example something like "those heart-bleeding liberals ruined our country".
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