I have a bone to pick, particularly with libertarians. Certain phrases and words grate against my skin, and I’m certain almost everyone has his or her little peeves when it comes to what words and phrases create an annoyance. So, these represent personal irritations and not so much an insistence that they should become illegal and banned. I’d also like to ban decorative pillows and left turns during rush hour (I can’t be alone on this), but that’s what happens when we make laws according to self-interests. They are, by definition, self serving. So please, take this not as a message from a self-appointed language cop, but rather a strong recommendation made out of self-interest in what I simply find truly annoying.
Often I hear libertarians describing themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” I fully understand the need to capsulize libertarian political philosophy into a single, understandable phrase for those who do not understand, but as someone who is both fiscally conservative and socially conservative, but also a libertarian, I despise the description. It falsely represents, I believe, what libertarianism is all about.
To be classically liberal means to be for freedom. I may be against gay marriage, the recreational use of any sort of drug (including marijuana), and a host of other things, like pornography and prostitution; however, that does not mean I want them to be illegal. I recognize that my freedoms are furthered and strengthened by the freedoms of others, and others do not all share the same ideas I have about these things. If it does not transgress the freedoms of others, then all freedoms being supported include my own.
So, can libertarians please quit using this phrase of fiscally conservative and socially liberal (or “liberally inclusive”)? We should just say, “I am a classical liberal, which is different from a modern liberal. I believe in social and economic liberty.” I know it’s a bit wordier, but it’s a suggestion that better represents the libertarian philosophy.
Could I also politely ask that people (including libertarians) please quit calling people Nazis and fascists? These ideologies are actually quite rare to the point they almost don’t exist, except… well, for Nazis and fascists – the people who actually call themselves these terms. Just because someone supports some element of fascism or Naziism does not mean he or she is one. Supporting a single war does not make a person a fascist. A single issue, such as abortion does not make a person a Nazi. Both sides have been known to accuse the other side of this. It is not unusual to hear people exclaim, “That’s just like the Nazis!” in reference to some position with which they disagree. It’s also not unusual to hear a libertarian refer to a war hawk as a fascist for wanting to go to war or in reference to someone who wants to build a wall on the border of Mexico. These are not at all things I support but they do not necessarily represent fascism in and of themselves. Fascism is a complicated set of philosophies and types of rule that were not even well known and explained by historical fascists themselves.
I have often found that those who use a lot of hyperbole in an argument often do so because they believe their argument to be flimsy themselves, and therefore require exaggeration to stand the argument upright. So, when I hear these terms used so flippantly, especially from libertarians in whose arguments I find much merit, it annoys me greatly.
If your argument is a good one, it needs no exaggeration to prop it up. I recognize that hyperbole has been used since the dawn of human interaction as a tool for trying to make a point. I just think it weakens a point rather than make it stronger.
So that is the end of my self appointed position as a temporary word cop. Say whatever you want, but just understand that some of these things are just as annoying as useless decorative pillows I can’t lay on or lean against (which also take several minutes to clear from the bed when I’m tired), or as annoying as a driver that backs up traffic for a mile because he wants to turn left during rush hour (or turn right for some of our friends across the pond). Can he not just take a few more right turns for the good of the other drivers? Don’t be a left turner with your car or your language. If you’re going to use these phrases, perhaps you could at least give me a trigger warning?
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Danny Chabino, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC