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Don't use labels

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, July 16, 2004

Stereotypes have a general basis in fact. Love or hate it, we either label or are labeled by others. Why do we do this? It's human nature. We naturally try to find order in the world and group similar things together. So, let's play a word association game. I want you to get an image in your head as you think about these words:

Conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, environmentalist, pro-life, pro-choice, homosexual, Christian, Muslim.

I can guarantee that you have strong feelings about every one of these words. How do I know this? These labels are used to lump virtually the entire population into one of these categories and then apply a general (usually negative) stereotypical view of each category, unless of course we identify with one of these groups - then we can apply our own personal specific views. Everyone has different opinions and different ideas about what construes one of these labels. Different people can agree on the answer to a question, but they all got to that answer in a different way.

These labels have become a tool to demonize group after group. I just can't stand it anymore. We all need to be reminded that these labels don't mean anything accept to someone who is trying to push their own agenda. Our nation is completely polarized because of these labels and the fear that they are designed to create.

Professionally my work cuts across all socio-political-economic lines. I get to deal with everyone, and I can find common ground with just about everyone I work with. How? It's easy. I just remember we're all just people and we all have our own lives and have our own differing opinions about everything, that's what makes life interesting.

With that said, please let me debunk a few broad generalizations for you:

Not all Republicans are Christian. Not all pro-choice folks agree with abortion. Not all Democrats want more social programs. Not All homosexuals are for gay marriage. Not all pro-life folks think an embryo is a baby. Not all environmentalists spike trees. Not all conservatives are rich. Not all Liberals like the ACLU.

I know this letter won't change the minds of anyone who writes letters using these labels; they are trying to influence your opinion. I have only one goal with this letter: to make you, the readers of these letters, stop and think. Don't let people label you. Don't label other people. Labels mean nothing.

PS: For all you folks who noted at the top how I made a broad generalization about how we all use stereotypes ... irony is such a fascinating thing.

William Judy

Juneau



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