Monday, March 05, 2007


A new site has just been launched to challenge the "liberal" bias of Wikipedia: Conservapedia. This family-friendly, moral site aims to provide a forum for right-wing American conservatives to set the facts straight. Among its many delights are:
  • A section on rules for editing called The Conservapedia Commandments. Whilst Wikipedia has something similar, its approach is somewhat different. For example, number 1 on the list of these "Commandments" is "Everything you post must be true and verifiable". No problem with that, you might say; but then we get to rule 4 (and I quote): "When referencing dates based on the approximate birth of Jesus, give appropriate credit for the basis of the date (B.C. or A.D.). "BCE" and "CE" are unacceptable substitutes because they deny the historical basis." I should add that I have no problem with Christians or Christianity as such, but I think not allowing for the possibility that Jesus was not "historical" - especially given the lack of hard evidence outside the New Testament, such as records from those compulsive record-keepers, the Romans - is hardly an indication of no bias.
  • Conservapedia encourages the use of American spellings "wherever possible". Whilst Wikipedia has similar rules regarding consistency and appropriateness of spelling - for example, as far as possible each article within itself must stick to either British or American spelling, and British spellings are preferred for articles on Britain - isn't it a bit fascist to insist on American spellings? On second thoughts, that wasn't a question. And given that only right-wing Americans are going to be publishing to this dustbin - er, site - anyway, why insist on them?
  • On the front page today is a statement that "A Conservapedia contributor helps defeat mandatory vaccination." I'm sure all parents (I'm not one) will be gladdened to hear that Conservapedia is putting its weight to making sure the infant mortality rate creeps up again.
Then of course there's this little problem with the definition of the word "liberal". lists the first four definitions of the word as:
  1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
  2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
  3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
  4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
The 7th definition of the word on is: "free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners."

Note also this entry from Merriam Webster (yes, that's right, an evil "liberal" "anti-American" is quoting an American site as evidence of his own point of view!):

"2 a: marked by generosity: openhanded liberal giver
b: given or provided in a generous and openhanded way: liberal meal
c: ample, full

"3 obsolete lacking moral restraint"

(Note the "obsolete".) has an entry for a definition of "color" and lists the spelling "colour" as "chiefly British", so one can be reasonably certain it's an American site. Despite this, and regardless of using as a source, Conservapedia has this to say about the word "liberal":

"Liberal" today means the disfavoring of individual responsibility in favor of collectivism or egalitarianism. Liberals tend to prefer equality in result rather than increased opportunities....Liberals typically align themselves with the Democratic Party in the United States, and the Labour Party in Great Britain....* An alternative definition of liberal is anything that is not conservative."

*This part is especially juicy, given the existence of the, y'know, Liberal Democratic Party in Britain and Tony Blair (of Labour)'s support for Bush.

Disclaimer: I have (and will continue to) contribute to Wikipedia.

But not to Conservapedia.

No comments: