The Liberal Left: Open And Tolerant

The wrap is that the far right wing-nut is intolerant and hateful.  The message is that the conservative is unwilling to embrace ideas that might be different, or strange or new.

The right.  The republican.  The conservative is the one unwilling to listen to opposing ideas, to embrace an open mind, to allow differences of thought.

That’s the narrative.  The left, the liberal left, is open to thoughts and ideas that are different.

It’s not true.  It’s the liberal that’s intolerant.

Since I’ve become politically “aware” I’ve noticed that it’s the liberal commentators that have been the most adamant in their views.  It’s the liberal that is more willing to shout down an opponent.  If someone is going to “block” someone from a website it’s the liberal.  If someone is going to “block” someone on twitter, it’s the liberal.

Now there is data:

Liberals are the most likely to have taken each of these steps to block, unfriend, or hide. In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates.

28% of liberals will block, unfriend or hide someone due to political content.  Conservatives?  Almost half that total; 16%.  And moderates come in at 14%, exactly half.

I’ve had a long history with what I consider “liberals.”  I attended MIT, [for those that know me the “M” stands for Minnesota, the IT is as you would expect] and I openly mocked and derided the “CLA” kids.  CLA standing for College of Liberal Arts.  Even as I held what I now consider to be liberal ideas in college, my encounters with those to the left of me left me scratching my head.

For a group of people who claim to be open minded, I have never encountered a population of people with such insistence that they’re right.  The very idea that they might be wrong is as foreign to them as the idea that mid-evil romantic German folks music isn’t going to result in a well paying career.

You can take the big issues of the day and list them laundry style.  All you get from the left is derision that you aren’t part of the enlightened:

  1. Minimum wage laws lead to less employment.
  2. Balancing the budget doesn’t require higher taxes.
  3. Drilling for oil leads to lower oil prices.
  4. Free rubbers is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.
  5. Nominal warming does not justify draconian economic actions.
  6. Validating one’s legal status is not discrimination.

The list goes on and on.

The point is, the left is far more intolerant than the right.  And for as long as I’ve been aware, it’s always been the case.  And I suspect it always will.

 

12 responses to “The Liberal Left: Open And Tolerant

  1. And I’ve read people on the left with loads of evidence that the right is more intolerant. Everyone wants to think “their” side is better. The reality humans are humans and intolerance is distributed pretty equally. Conservatives certainly mock liberals, and one study about blocking friends on facebook is hardly definitive (studies can be made to show what authors want, studies can be outliers, and this study doesn’t have a causal link to tolerance, only to what they prefer on social media — even then the stats are not very persausive).

    The more people on any side try to say the other side is “worse,” they more that build stereotypes and division. Yes, people like to think their particular side is “better,” that’s true on the left and the right. The reality at all levels is that humans are humans and attempts to brand one side better or worse (and the left certainly has brought out studies to try to do that to the right) are misguided.

    • Everyone wants to think “their” side is better.

      Even with the most reasonable of my liberal friends, these are people I meet with, see in person and am able to engage directly, I try to use this line of thinking:

      If position X reflects the very far right wing-nut position, what is the equally extreme left wing-nut position on the left?

      You would be surprised at how often they reply, “there is no far left extreme position on this topic. The left’s position is mainstream.”

      My point is, the right seems to understand that there are tribes and we all have to work to “compromise out of them.” The left feels that there are tribes, but only of the kind “There is the far-right tribe and then the tribe that they belong to which is made up of reasonable moderate correct thinking independents.”

      Yes, people like to think their particular side is “better,” that’s true on the left and the right.

      I agree. What infuriates me are the righteous lefties who refuse to see the same behavior within their own tribe.

  2. There are numerous blogs (many that I read) on the left who fight more with people from the far left than from the right. Norbrook named them “the frustrati” because they wanted Obama to change so much more. Yet on the right, I don’t see that many conservatives taking on the ‘far right’ in the same way. There is real disagreement between Obama and his supporters and people at the Daily Kos and other more leftist websites. The debates between the left and center of the Democratic party are real. Yet in the GOP it seems like the center is whithering, that you have only the far right, driven very much by ideology. Look at how Romney has to sell his soul just to get through the primaries (once he’s through I’m sure he’ll be reasonable — the etch a sketch metaphor is accurate, but unforatunately for moderate Republicans necessary). Look how Snowe and others resigned because centrist Republicans get labeled “Rino” by the intolerant on the right.

    I can give more examples. Democrats did the same to Joe Lieberman, both sides have those divisions. But it seems the center/moderate wing of the Democratic party is faring far better than the center/moderate wing of the GOP — and right wing intolerance often extends to those moderates of their own party! But I won’t see the right is worse, only that humans get that way sometimes, and I see no reason to say the left is worse than the right.

    • But it seems the center/moderate wing of the Democratic party is faring far better than the center/moderate wing of the GOP — and right wing intolerance often extends to those moderates of their own party! But I won’t see the right is worse, only that humans get that way sometimes, and I see no reason to say the left is worse than the right.

      I think you continue to miss my point. The Left acknowledges a wing-nut extreme faction of the Right. There is no acknowledgement of the same on the Left.

      That and the Left is less tolerant of alternative ideas than the Right.

      • You miss my point — the moderates on the left are openly calling the extremists names like “frustrati” because they see them as being too far out. If there is a difference, it’s that the politicians on the right are playing to the extremes. They do not acknowledge the extremes on the right. On the other hand, it’s hard to find people on the right who consider the tea party or Santorum “nuts.” They might say “well, they take it a bit too far,” or “I don’t agree with them on everything.” But I see the right in the same light as you see the left — the right calls the left dangerous and sometimes anti-American or out to destroy the US, but doesn’t see their own extremes as all that bad.

        Simply: there is cause to see more intolerance on the right, and less of a willingness to label things like the World Net Daily, and the tea party as extremes or nuts. The politicians actively play to extremes on the right. On the left it appears to me the moderates are in control and the extremes have less power. Probably on each side people are kinder to extremes they are closer to (the left won’t condemn extremists on the left with the same energy that they condemn extremists on the right; the right won’t condemn extremists on the right with the same energy they condemn extremists on the left).

  3. In my mind (and I consider myself to be liberal/progressive) it’s an open question as to how to handle someone else’s intolerance. If I think they are someone who can be reached, someone I’m capable of having a conversation with, I’m not going to cut them off. If, however, it’s someone who is so intolerant/hateful/offensive that there is no way to even communicate in any reasoned way, I have no hesitation cutting them off. Under the methodology in this post, I’d be the intolerant one, not the person spewing hate. I’m not sure that’s fair.

    • If I think they are someone who can be reached, someone I’m capable of having a conversation with, I’m not going to cut them off. If, however, it’s someone who is so intolerant/hateful/offensive that there is no way to even communicate in any reasoned way, I have no hesitation cutting them off.

      Hey man,

      I think there is a difference in being hateful and offensive and then being unable to have a conversation with someone. For example, I have often been accused of arguing and not yielding ground and I don’t think that I’m hateful. Perhaps a stubborn ass, but not hateful.

      A decent example of what I’m talking about is Global Warming.

      I think there are two extremes:

      1. Humans cause no warming of the climate what so ever AND the whole thing is a hoax.
      2. Humans are causing catastrophic climate change that will destroy the planet AND the only way to mitigate it is to stop as much fossil fuel consumption as possible at any economic cost.

      Virtually every single conservative I know acknowledges that CO2 is a warming agent and that we add CO2 to the atmosphere and therefore cause some amount of warming. But when I express hesitation that we are causing the destruction of the world, or that there may be better ways of reducing CO2, I’m labelled a flat earther. And more than that, when I ask those folks who label me that what the extreme position from the left might be they honestly tell me there isn’t one.

      By the way, I’m with ya on the cutting off ignorant bastards that hate in terms of race and sexual identity and religious differences. Jeepers for ick.

  4. I guess what i’m saying is, I’d be careful how much to read into these facebook stats when they don’t explain the cause of the defriending. It might just be that defriending was the right way to go, and that it has nothing to do with tolerance/intolerance.

  5. Minimum wage laws lead to less employment.

    This is up for debate; I am of the view that the most comprehensive empirical studies show that this is false, but I don’t think your view is unsupportable.

    Balancing the budget doesn’t require higher taxes.

    I haven’t seen empirical support for this view. Certainly, we know that cutting taxes reduces revenues, despite the lies from leading Republicans like then-Pres. Bush and then-nominee McCain.

    Drilling for oil leads to lower oil prices.

    Drilling in the US? I haven’t seen empirical support for this view.

    Free rubbers is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Deeply silly straw man. Would you like to restate that in a way that some liberal might support?

    Nominal warming does not justify draconian economic actions.

    Straw man. What has the Democratic Party advocated that amounts to “draconian” actions? Remember, at least as of a couple months ago, Pres. Obama had raised more money from Wall Street than all the Republicans combined. The Democratic Party is almost as corporate-owned as the GOP. You are more likely to get stuff around the edges like modest CAFE standards from Democrats, but nothing “draconian”.

    Validating one’s legal status is not discrimination.

    Haven’t seen people argue otherwise, but it’s a big country, maybe someone somewhere did.

    From your comment above:

    I think there are two extremes: 1. Humans cause no warming of the climate what so ever AND the whole thing is a hoax. 2. Humans are causing catastrophic climate change that will destroy the planet AND the only way to mitigate it is to stop as much fossil fuel consumption as possible at any economic cost.

    This illustrates the problem, I think. I come at politics with a “fact vs. falsehood” view. You have a “left vs. right” view.

    What’s telling here is, the straw-man-idiot Republican view you offer is exactly what Republican Party leaders like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jim Inhofe, etc. (Romney has flip flopped in the past few months on whether he accepts the fact that human activity is causing climate change). Whereas the straw-man-idiot Democratic view you offer isn’t held by anyone who could get into a meeting with a Democratic congressman.

    If you think we should balance the budget with incremental changes, that we should take prudent measures to address climate change, then you vote for Democrats. If you think that “deficits don’t matter” during Republican administrations, and think that they require dismantling governance during Democratic administrations, and if you think that climate change is a hoax from the socialist-academic-climatology complex, and that cutting revenues increases revenues, then you vote for Republicans.

    I mean, I’d love to have the discussion with you, & with the GOP, about how we should address climate change. But the idea the GOP cooked up a little while back– cap and trade– they now universally denounce. Because they don’t care about policy. It might be that you and I have the exact same idea of how best to address climate change. But policy-wise, it doesn’t matter. The GOP is insane. They’re willing to wage jihad even against ideas it proposed and supported for decades– e.g., the individual mandate, cape and trade– if they’re supported by a Democratic Congress & President. That’s the fundamental problem with our politics.

    • reflectionephemeral | March 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      First, fantastic reply. Thank you.

      I am of the view that the most comprehensive empirical studies show that this is false, but I don’t think your view is unsupportable.

      As far as I know, the most famous case that demonstrates this is the fast food study in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. However, there is a significant rebuttal to this conclusion. Further, I debated an economist at UNC Greensboro on this point and he made the case that raising the minimum wage increases employment is cases of monopsony. He ceded two points however.

      1. We don’t have a single example of monopsony in America.
      2. This condition only entices people who are otherwise happy to trade work for leisure to work.

      I haven’t seen empirical support for this view.

      Here is one:

      http://tarheelred.com/2011/11/21/the-deficit-why-its-a-spending-problem/

      Simply allow receipts to grow as they have and leave rates alone. Limit spending and you balance the budget; you don’t even have to cut spending.

      Drilling in the US? I haven’t seen empirical support for this view.

      I saw that report and am working on a post. If supply doesn’t matter, why don’t you advocate for shutting down drilling rigs in order to reduce the price of oil?

      Deeply silly straw man. Would you like to restate that in a way that some liberal might support?

      Not a straw man.

      Free diaphragms is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Or, offering the pill is not a right guaranteed by the constitution.

      In fact, there is precious little that is guaranteed that requires someone else do or give some thing of his self in that document. I’ve heard, however, that there are two.

      Straw man. What has the Democratic Party advocated that amounts to “draconian” actions?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aTf5gjvNvo

      Haven’t seen people argue otherwise, but it’s a big country, maybe someone somewhere did.

      See all the voter ID laws being passed and objected to by the Left. Ibid immigration laws requiring state and local police to check status of detained individuals.

      I mean, I’d love to have the discussion with you, & with the GOP, about how we should address climate change.

      Reverse order:

      Me too.

      I so wish that geography allowed us to sit down and smoke, or drink, this over. I’d love it

      Whereas the straw-man-idiot Democratic view you offer isn’t held by anyone who could get into a meeting with a Democratic congressman.

      Dude, Pelosi is whacked on this. And she is the king of democratic congressmen.

      But the idea the GOP cooked up a little while back– cap and trade– they now universally denounce.

      Are you referring to the whole sulfur dioxide issue? Or are you referring to a cure for CO2?

  6. All too quickly…

    On the minimum wage, I’m of the view that more studies than not show that it does not increase unemployment; but like I said, your view is far from untenable.

    On the deficit, the use of historical percentages isn’t a bad starting spot, but we need to be specific about what we’ll cut without increasing revenues. This post isn’t my favorite thing of all time, but it gets at why: “the argument about getting back to average spending and revenues ignores the fact that the United States is not the same today as it was in the past. The economy, population, military situation, demand on the federal government, tax code and everything else today are in an online environment that 50 years ago was dominated by 45 rpm records and 8-track tapes.”

    If supply doesn’t matter, why don’t you advocate for shutting down drilling rigs in order to reduce the price of oil?

    C’mon.

    Supply does matter, of course.

    It’s just that we don’t, apparently, have enough supply to move markets. Had we opened up ANWR in 2001, then by 2020, we’d get maybe 780K bpd. Better than nothing, but the Saudis produce around 10m bpd. Argue for more drilling if you like, but it’s a lie that it will drive prices down. We lack the amount to do that. (Be pleased to be wrong on that! Pls offer other data if you have it).

    Free diaphragms is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Or, offering the pill is not a right guaranteed by the constitution.

    No one is talking about “free condoms”. The issue is, is it better policy for insurers to be required to cover contraception like they are broken arms or anti-depression medication? It seems to me that this is a cost-effective, human liberty expanding measure.

    I really am not persuaded by the 12-second clip of a clause of a sentence establishes that the Democratic Party wants to impose “draconian” actions on the energy industry. Remember, we’re drilling more now than at any time since 2003. It’s fine to argue that we should be doing more (tho not by lying that we’d be paying less!), but it’s not fine to argue that we’ve seen some sort of “draconian” anti-energy assault lately.

    See all the voter ID laws being passed and objected to by the Left. Ibid immigration laws requiring state and local police to check status of detained individuals.

    There is zero showing that there is any problem anywhere whatsoever about voter fraud; there is a strong showing that voter ID laws will obstruct the efforts of the poor, the elderly, and minorities to vote. Therefore, it is an ineffective policy, and we should do something else. As for illegal immigration, the instant that we want to end it, we’ll impose severe fines, or worse, on people who employ folks who are present unlawfully. Empowering the government to hassle folks who someone thinks “look funny” is not great for human liberty.

    Dude, Pelosi is whacked on this. And she is the king of democratic congressmen.

    Which policies did she propose that give you that impression?

    Are you referring to the whole sulfur dioxide issue? Or are you referring to a cure for CO2?

    Cap and trade is the conservative policy response to pollution that is bad, but that we don’t want to ban or anything because we need it. And now the entirety of the GOP launches a jihad against it– tho it was supported by McCain-Palin in 08– and offers, in its place, nothing but talking points about burdening business. Yes, in a vacuum, burdening business is bad; but so is pollution. C&T is a compromise, that allows market forces to assist us in reducing pollution. On that issue, as on so many others, the GOP is now devoid of rational policy proposals.

    Pls pardon typos and poor grammar…

    • but we need to be specific about what we’ll cut without increasing revenues.

      You fail to acknowledge that historically, revenues increase 7% year over year. I have to ask, how much more money do you want?

      It seems to me that this is a cost-effective, human liberty expanding measure.

      I’m not sure you understand liberty in the manner I do. If, in the name of Liberty, you require one man to produce for another, you have a mistaken view of Liberty.

      I really am not persuaded by the 12-second clip of a clause of a sentence establishes that the Democratic Party wants to impose “draconian” actions on the energy industry.

      Does requiring coal plants to produce levels of CO2 that make it all but impossible pursued you?

      There is zero showing that there is any problem anywhere whatsoever about voter fraud

      Whoa.

      You asked for an example where the left objected to people having to prove they were who they say they are. I did.

      Cap and trade is the conservative policy response to pollution that is bad,

      No one is convinced that CO2 is pollution.

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