Not about being labeled or liked

In his Oct. 17 letter, “Tough armchair conservationist,” which is a rebuttal to my Oct. 10 letter, “Activists who act like terrorists,” Ivor Paul calls me a conservative for my views. It has happened before, in this column and in people’s personal blogs as well.

It bothers me a little, first because I am not really very conservative at all. In my personal political, social and economic opinions, and in my adult voting record, I am fairly liberal straight down the line. There is a stupid tendency to identify people’s place in the world by their views on button issues. A conservative believes in limited taxation, restrained budgets, small government, laissez-faire economics including unregulated free trade, privatized health and education, individualism, God, etc. A liberal believes in socialized medicine, gay marriage rights, social welfare, women’s rights, abortion rights, animal rights, environmental conservation, garbage recycling, multiculturalism, etc.

Second, what matters my place in the political-social continuum anyway? I believe many different things simultaneously, some contradictory and evolving in time with age and experience. Honestly speaking, despite writing many letters to the newspaper as well as keeping a personal blog, my authentic opinions are not always reflected in my writing. Is there a rule that they must be?

Writing is a groovy hobby, and to a measurable degree writing is insulation for my privacy. What matters more than the Truth is a good story. What matters more than my politics is the quality and eloquence of my writing. That’s the thing to take issue with. Readers in Council is an idea forum, and I think all ideas are welcome. Even unpleasant ideas need to be heard repeatedly.

Button-issue identity seems to be an American fetish that is spreading to other English-speaking countries. I’m not an American — thank God! — and button-issue identity looks like a cockamamie idea to me. Another American fetish is this obsession with being liked. It is another cultural quirk slowly spreading to other cultures. Americans fret about not being liked in the world because they see themselves as the Good Guys who deserve appreciation.

With regard to Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherds, I do appreciate their goals but not their tactics. Therefore, as I said Oct. 10, I like the environment but not environmentalists. The world is filled with people we don’t like, but that does not exclude civility.

grant piper
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.