Apparently, I’m a libtard.
When I opened an email earlier this week and found this word pointed accusingly at me, I was not shocked. Particularly toxic readers who like to lash out at me for a wide variety of subjects are quick to use the term.
While I shudder at the mere use of a word that melds “liberal” and “retard” to attack someone they’ve never personally met, I understand why they’re doing it.
These are the radical libertarian readers who are angry and disillusioned that their world is changing. They hate — I mean, really hate with a lusty, visceral force — anyone who supports the notion of change.
You’ll notice I said “libertarian” and not “conservative.” I don’t think “conservative” is an insult, and personally I do not believe most hardcore conservatives are resistant to change.
There was a time in this country not so long ago where the collision of the words “progressive” and “conservative” was still intellectually defensible. Even now, as libertarian notions work their way into mainstream politics, I still know many militant conservatives who acknowledge the need for, and value of, progressive change.
You can bet anyone that regularly uses the word libtard does not fall into that category of conservative.
The most recent allegation flung in my direction came from someone named Todd (which may or may not be a real name) who was upset about a column in which I lamented the slow uptake of COVID-19 booster shots. Todd lashed out at me for fear-mongering, and not letting people live their lives without unfounded threats from infectious diseases.
When I pushed back a little, he pulled libtard from his quiver of toxic insults.
I don’t know if this single word defines a specific political constituency and if so, whether it’s a significant constituency. I think not.
More likely, it’s the calling card for a small but vocal minority with a narcissistic personality disorder — a verified mental condition defined by an inflated sense of self-importance, an obsessive need for attention and (here it comes) a lack of empathy for others.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed in the land of the libtards the people who are most opposed to pandemic restrictions and vaccine boosters are also the least empathetic: “I don’t care if social distancing/masks/vaccines saves lives, you can’t make me!”
Todd seems blissfully unconcerned despite the fact COVID-19 continues to cull generations of elderly citizens from the population and saddle millions more with long-term health effects, provincial governments allow us to move about unfettered, unvaccinated and unmasked.
In lashing out at anyone with the temerity to advocate for some modest restrictions, Todd is revealing himself as either a narcissist of the worst variety, or he no longer has a nana and simply doesn’t care what happens to other people’s grandparents.
The “I don’t care about how my actions impact others” philosophy was in full force this past weekend as the “rolling thunder” motorcycle rally descended on Ottawa, an event at which the term libtard was no doubt frequently tossed about.
No one expected this rally, an echo of the original so-called “freedom convoy” that occupied downtown Ottawa for 32 days in January and February, would be as big, and it wasn’t. It was mostly peaceful although hundreds of tickets were handed out for parking violations and “encumbering a highway.” Several people were arrested.
However, the most interesting aspect of Rolling Thunder was that nobody was quite sure what the rally was all about.
Organizers said it was to pay tribute to military veterans. However, the tone was pure Freedom Convoy, yet another rage-against-pandemic-restrictions protest. “There’s something wrong with our country,” organizer Neil Sheard told protesters on Saturday. “It’s something to do with fearing everybody, fearing anything. So, to people out there that are fearful, take a good look at yourself. Look around. Not everybody’s afraid.”
Ah yes, being afraid is most definitely a libtard trait. Good old Todd accused me of being unduly afraid, and trying to trigger fear in others, in his original eloquent email. You see, advocating for restrictions, even those that don’t really inconvenience people, is tantamount to fear mongering.
That’s an odd bit of logic at the (we hope) tail end of a pandemic that claimed nearly 40,000 lives. The “live free or die” types will tell you that 40,000 isn’t that much, and that more people die from influenza. And although that’s not really true, it’s also not the point: this wasn’t 40,000 deaths “instead” of the flu; this was 40,000 ADDITIONAL deaths that did not need to happen.
Like many libtards, I’m growing weary of having to explain the threat of COVID-19 to people who continue to think that concepts like collective security, compassion and empathy are signs of weakness. Regardless of what you want to call us, I’ll thankfully count myself among the people who are willing to make sacrifices to save lives.
For the moment, however, I will be spending much less time raging against anyone who calls me a libtard. Largely because when you start to think about all the qualities that guys like Todd and the Rolling Thunder folks think define a libtard, you quickly realize it’s not an insult. It’s actually a compliment.