For months now I have been following and participating in debates about religion, politics, and civil rights. I have long been amazed at the degree of difficulty we have in trying to communicate. Obviously a major part of this problem is that both sides use the language so as to deliberately mislead. Pro-life vs. pro-choice immediately come to mind. But I am beginning to see a larger pattern, something more fundamendal. That something is the meaning of Liberty itself.
The modern social conservative is collectivist. Liberty to him or her is a right exercised by the people at large. And that means that the people have the right to proscribe anything that they, the majority, see as a threat to the utopian ideal of what society should be. In a nutshell they believe people must be free to use the government as the enforcer of mores.
The modern social Liberal sees Liberty as an individual right, a right held by each person to be free from government interference. The modern Liberal does not deny that government has a role in the structure of society and the modern Conservative does not deny that there is a place for individual Liberty.
The difference is this:
The modern Liberal believes that before the government can proscribe, it, the government, must show that it has a unimpeachable necessity to act. The modern Conservative believes that it is the minority that must show that its demands cause no harm to the Liberty of society to decide.
Think about it, and let's discuss.