Authors' 'liberal' misinterpreted

Authors' 'liberal' misinterpreted

Gene Budig and Alan Heaps' commentary headlined "Liberal intolerance" on June 22 involves a misreading of the term "liberal" so wrong-headed that it's surprising to learn they have some experience in higher education.

The authors demonize small, so-called "liberal"groups which they say have "silenced invited guests to commencements because they found them to be politically objectionable."

"Liberal intolerance," they declare, is "chipping away at their (schools') reputations for intellectual freedom, open discourse and unbiased research." (How citing these three "liberal" academic standards proves "liberal intolerance" isn't explained.)

The authors have invented stereotype "liberals" — bugaboos — to titillate their friends. Their "intolerant liberals" are ruffians: "ill-mannered," "arrogant," ungrateful, "outspoken" students and faculty typified by "ideological stubbornness" and "loud voices."

So, Budig-Heaps complain that all "liberals" and "liberal" thought are "intolerant" and dangerous to higher education, that opinions of university officials are above criticism and appeal, and that free-speech rights won since our nation's founding by Americans of all persuasions should be set aside at the whim of majorities.

In contrast, the American Heritage Dictionary offers authoritative definitions of "liberal" thought: "1a. Not limited to or by traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes or dogmas; free from bigotry. b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded."

Budig and Heaps' pejorative sermonette touts a falsehood: the cynical and deceptive oxymoron, "liberal intolerance." It's the "Big Lie" about the real character and American experience of liberal thought and action. For Shame!