The Rhetoric of Righteous Rage

Be a liberal like you mean it.

The Rhetoric is an ongoing, collaborative 80 Proof project. It is our attempt, as liberals, to talk like we know we’re right. We want a phrasebook for the unashamed liberal. We want to call those who disagree with us what they are. Some of these are things we made up, many are things we’ve seen and heard, online and elsewhere. This is by no means a complete list: the like-minded are encouraged to suggest additions in the comments. Constructive criticism is welcome, too.

Talking about people and policies that oppose abortion:

anti-woman                                                                                                                                                                                       anti-choice
pro-forced pregnancy
pro-institutionalized rape

Talking about the Christian right:


Talking about intelligent design proponents and other anti-science folks:


Talk about heterosexists, homophobes, and the otherwise anti-queer:


Talking about opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples:

anti-child welfare

Bigotry, general:


Talking about anyone who doesn’t oppose war:

pro-human tragedy
pro-untimely death

Talking about people who don’t believe in global warming:

evidence deniers

Talking about people and policies that don’t support combating global warming:


Talking about the support of megacorporate capitalism:

anti-free market
anti-small business

Talking about people who support factory farming:


Factory farming, pollution, and other ills:



faithless underestimators (supposedly religious people who insist that phenomena such as gender variance couldn’t be the work of G-d; supposedly religious people who claim to have a monopoly on religious truth)



  1. 80 Proof Update « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] Be a liberal like you mean it: The Rhetoric of Righteous Rage. […]

  2. Brendenator said,

    I’m so happy

  3. Quite Observer said,

    Way to many Anti- It just drones on an on and muttles the uniqueness

  4. Emily said,

    Well, if you have a better idea, suggest away, dear observer.

  5. Quite Observer said,

    Ey come on, Im the Observer, I only observe. I suppose you could kind of relate me to that old proverb “Those who cant do, Teach” im just here to make snazzy comments and act like I know what the hell I’m talking about

    or I suppose I could try later when my brain isent so burned out from college apps and what not

  6. Daisy said,

    When you’re feeling up to it, we’d love to hear your suggestions.

  7. Isabel said,

    My grandfather has a bumper sticker proclaiming that “Global warming is child abuse”. Just wanted to share with you.

  8. Daisy said,

    Ooo, can we put that in?

  9. Jessie said,

    my favorite:


  10. yoda said,

    lol Christofacists

    for those who believe in the PATRIOT ACTS and think that gitmo and abu grhaib and such are necessary…

    constitution burners
    geneva deniers
    pro-rich people

  11. yoda said,

    this has potential, seriously

    the conservative right has all their saying…while the left is stuck with REAL words and people, unfortunately, tend to go with what sounds like its correct. don’t get me wrong, im not a proponent of fighting fire with fire…but in this context, it is necessary to show the masses an equally impacting bias. these terms could provide a solid ground for such a bias.

    on that same note, it kind of goes against the whole premise of liberalism, because its just gonna confuse more people…however, it happens to be effective when it comes time to the ballot.

  12. Daisy said,

    constitution burners
    geneva deniers
    pro-rich people

    Hahaha, awesome.

    You know, it does sort of go against the premise of liberalism. I’m increasingly ambivalent about its effectiveness, integrity, usefulness… But damn, is it ever satisying!

    Thanks for your thoughts, Yoda.

  13. James Davis said,

    This idea is very dangerous. On the one hand, liberals do need to be more aggressive. When fools blindly send other people off to die, the people who are against that should not be insulted.

    The problem is that loaded words are anti-intellectual. It is easy to load up words like “traditional marriage”, but once you do that you cut off real open debate. I think liberals should use these words above a little bit, but not rely on them.

    Instead of saying the far right is “pro-massacre”, if you think about it long enough you can come up with the real correct insult. The problem with the far right that liberals hate is NOT that they think we should fight against terrorism preemptively. The problem is that they don’t care that THEIR ACTUAL STRATEGY NEVER HAD ANY CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING.

    So if someone says to you “Why are you afraid to take on terrorists?” you should say “Well that’s a reasonable strategy to try. So why did you let 150,000 troops sit on the losing end of the battle and get slaughtered day after day with no hope of winning? Why weren’t you demanding a draft of 3,000,000 Americans to really get the job done World War 2 style?”

    Conservatives will talk about ANYTHING ELSE besides actually succeeding at winning the war. The key is to temporarily agree with their philosophy or historical view and then get to the real point of letting soldiers die with no chance of winning.

  14. fitnessfortheoccasion said,

    This is brilliant. All words have meaning. Crafting our own with skill is not dangerous. It is vital.

    I’d like to add a little myself, if I may be so bold.

    For Anti-Choice words:
    Anti-Woman. This opens up the discussion of how many in the anti-choice movement take positions that are profoundly anti-woman, like making it more difficult to obtain contraceptives after rape, or making it harder to leave an abusive partner if you have children.

    Rhetoric extends far beyond words though. It encompasses every aspect of how we present our arguments. So it would be outstanding to talk about frames and well worn paths the right takes (and how to ready a logical ambush).

  15. Emily said,

    Of course you may be so bold, fitness! This is an ongoing, incomplete project and we appreciate input.

    And, yeah, duh. Can’t believe anti-woman wasn’t the first one up there under anti-choice words. That will be added immediately!

  16. Sally Jane Beaufort said,

    Rhetoric is so important when we discuss controversial topics… if you phrase something in a way that opens it up to attack, it weakens the argument, no matter how well you might then back it up. It’s the small weaknesses that bring down great ideas. At the same time, we need those ideas to remain in the foreground, so we remember that they’re the important part of the argument.

    That said, it works best for me to be fairly concise… I know the more I talk the more confusing I get.

    And for the record, my favorite “anti” is anti-choice… because pro-life is misleading. It implies that there is only one relevant life… and that’s just not true.

  17. Elaine Vigneault said,

    This is an awesome list. I will try to use these terms to describe the lunatics.

    My favorites are:
    pro-forced pregnancy

  18. Daisy said,

    Hi Elaine! I think you just listed all the ones I’ve actually used.

  19. Alli said,

    Um, just about 99% with you on the definitions, however…

    Just a question….how can being for capitalism mega or minor be “Pro-monopoly”?

    After all,capitalism’s antonym is socialism which is defined as:

    so·cial·ism = A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

    Which really means no competition, which then of course means a socialism is actually the Pro-Monopolist, as competition against the state is thus forbidden.

    Just figured I would ask, you know for accuracy’s sake and all. :p

  20. Daisy said,

    Alli: that’s a good point, which I hadn’t considered.

    The reason we put that on there is that, at this moment in history, most people who support capitalism (seem to) support it as it’s currently practiced, which is pretty far removed from theoretical capitalism. In theory, capitalism is just survival of the fittest; in practice, at this point, people who are already in power in our classist, racist society hoard their power and crush their competition — it’s become more effective for mega-corporations to buy out and destroy competitors. The theory is that one would improve a product to overtake a competitor, that’s not really what happens, and real, fair competition never seems to actually take place, as far as I can tell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: