In recent days, liberals around the world have made headlines for doing what they do best: Hectoring and bossing.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown lectured his countrymen on the evils of wasting food shortly before tucking into 14 courses over two meals at the G8 summit in Japan.
U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has advised Americans that maintaining their homes at 72 F is unacceptable in the eyes of the global community.
Meanwhile in Canada, so-called human rights tribunals continue to pillory columnists and comedians, and liberal justices recently ruled a father had no right to ground his 12-year-old daughter.
With these instances in mind, it is time to recalibrate our political labels. Specifically, the term "liberal," which is derived from "liberty," ought to be replaced with its common synonym, "left-wing." The reason for this is the totalitarian impulse of those who espouse modern liberalism. If a person imagines his wisdom and privilege are sufficient to tell you what you may say, how much you can eat, and how to raise your children, chances are excellent that he is what we would call in common parlance a "liberal."
But of course, he is no freedom-minded fellow. And liberals, as they are known, do not always base their prescriptions for others' lives on their position or perspicacity.
Indeed, they have a much more powerful and devious rationale. That is, the Common Good. "Don't you care about (insert 'the children' or 'the whales' or, most often these days, 'the planet')?" Such is demanded of anyone foolish enough to dissent from whatever orthodoxy is populating liberals' protest placards at the moment.
Be warned that this is a rhetorical question, and any attempt to respond may engender a flurry of profanity, encapsulating one's appearance to one's parentage (one cannot know the anger that adults are willing to commit to the eternity of e-mail until one has advocated some right-of-centre position in the public square).
What causes such outrage? It is not that you are wrong and they are right. It is that you dare to disagree.
The left does not have the evidence of history on its side -- they do not even know what that evidence is. True leftists are even less acquainted with facts than with showers. Your divergence from the herd is sufficient to kindle their wrath.
Conservatives, meanwhile, have two principal objections to this Common do-Goodery.
First, we usually reject whatever rationale liberals have put forward. For example, while liberals insist that "climate change" is the world's worst danger, conservatives are not so ready to take David Suzuki's word for it.
Second, conservatives aver that even if some legal, personal action of theirs results in a negligible net negative to the Common Good, the decision as to whether to cease or maintain that behaviour should fall to the individual, not liberal overseers. The discretion to be different is the essence of freedom, and it is anathema to the modern liberal world view.
Wouldn't it be good, liberals insist, if everyone were compelled to do only what is in the best interests of society and the planet? Conservatives demur that such notions are impractical and inhuman. As evidence, liberals refer to Al Gore's movie, while we cite the 20th century.
Nowadays, being liberal has nothing to do with freedom.