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FIRST-PERSON: Guess who’s close-minded?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and Thesaurus the word “liberal” is defined as: respectful and accepting of behavior or opinions different from one’s own.

The dictionary and thesaurus also provides several synonyms for the word. Among those listed are the following: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded.

You would think that a person who embraces the concept of liberalism would be, of all people, open to debate, dialogue and inquiry on most any subject. But the new liberals, or as I refer to them, “neo-liberals,” are among the most narrow-minded and closed individuals you will ever meet.

“Liberals are very broad-minded,” someone once said. “They are always willing to give careful consideration to both sides of the same side.”

This observation was quite well illustrated recently at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Al Gore, former vice president turned global warming activist, was scheduled to engage in a question and answer session during the society’s annual gathering Oct. 7-11 in Madison, Wis.

Q&A over his views of climate change, which were put forth in the so-called documentary titled “An Inconvenient Truth,” is something Gore rarely engages in. However, given that the journalists at the society’s annual meeting are overwhelmingly sympathetic towards global warming, Gore felt safe to dialogue with this year’s attendees.

The session was moving along smoothly until Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer challenged Gore on what McAleer called “nine errors,” on climate change in Gore’s documentary. It should be noted that McAleer, a former journalist, has produced a documentary (“Not Evil Just Wrong”) on DVD that takes aim at Gore’s assertions in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

When Gore sought to evade McAleer’s question, the filmmaker challenged him, just like a good journalist should.

As Gore continued to tap dance around the pointed query, McAleer pressed the issue. That is when officials with the Society of Environmental Journalists stepped in and interrupted McAleer and cut off his microphone, thus allowing Gore to escape without actually having to answer McAleer’s question.

A society spokesman responded by saying they were only trying to allow as many journalists as possible to ask questions. McAleer was told the session was for Q&A and not a debate.

A review of a digital recording of the Q&A session reveals that society officials appeared to be upset by McAleer’s question as well as his persistence at getting an answer.

The recent incident involving Gore and McAleer at the Society of Environmental Journalists is nothing new. On a wide variety of issues ranging from science to sexuality, neo-liberals insist there are only two sides to the same side.

Media personality Ben Stein narrated and helped produced a documentary titled “Expelled.” The 2008 film is about scientists and researchers who acknowledge the scientific evidence for the Intelligent Design of life and who have been ostracized or denied tenure as a result. According to Stein, they have been “expelled” from the academy.

One such scientist is Caroline Crocker, a biologist with a specialty in immunopharmacology. In 2005, she included a scientific critique of evolution during a cell-biology class she was teaching at George Mason University.

When faculty members learned that Crocker had dared discuss Darwin’s flaws, she was not allowed to mention evolution or intelligent design in her classes. Subsequently, her contract to teach was not renewed.

In areas of sexuality, neo-liberals insist there are two sides to only one side. On the issue of sexuality neo-liberals dogmatically insist that homosexuality is genetic in origin. They do so in spite of the fact that there has never been a single study that has been able to definitely find a genetic or biological cause for homosexual behavior.

In spite of the lack of evidence of a biological cause for homosexuality, neo-liberals continue to insist it is so.

How do the tolerant and open-minded neo-liberals respond to those who refuse to accept their worldview? Do they respect diversity of thought? Do they welcome debate and discussion? No. Neo-liberals dismiss and label those who disagree with them as ignorant, hateful, and/or phobic.

“Liberalism is an attitude rather than a set of dogmas — an attitude that insists upon questioning all plausible and self-evident propositions, seeking not to reject them but to find out what evidence there is to support them,” observed American philosopher and legal scholar Morris Raphael Cohen.

Cohen’s observation may have once been true of liberals. However, neo-liberals have only one interest: the consideration of both sides of the same side. All others, especially conservative ideas and principles, are dismissed and rejected without debate.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs