Labels Strip Identity From Individuals

Do you ever feel the need to break free from the mold of conformity and unoriginality? Do you ever get sick of people being so quick to label or fit you into a category?

Well, I’ve had it. Enough is enough. It’s time to deconstruct the labels that have been assigned to me.

It’s high time that this insidious societal disease of labeling and classifying people based on assumptions was exposed.

As a writer, I have encountered the frustrating phenomenon of people judging me solely on what I write, taking it upon themselves to label me with certain inaccurate political leanings.

For instance, people automatically assume that because I have written against Bush and his unsavory connections to Bob Jones University that I am an “”evil liberal.””

Wrong.

Another example is that people automatically assume that, because I wrote about the misconception of free speech and related a time when I had battled against the closed minds of so-called open-minded liberal classmates, that I am a hardcore conservative.

Wrong again.

It’s time now to deconstruct these false assumptions. First of all, just because I find fault with Bush does not make me a liberal.

It’s almost ironic, because at the time I wrote that article, on paper I was still a registered Republican. But I am not a conservative nor a Republican. I am not a liberal nor a Democrat. Nor do I associate myself with the Independent Party or Green Party.

I am me. And those convenient, all-purpose labels cannot accurately describe what I believe.

I have come to realize that our society has become label-happy.

Rather than take the time to get to know people or the record of a political candidate, many find it easier to label one another, no matter whether the label is based on faulty assumptions.

It can be a conscious act, or it can be something that is subconscious.

“”Oh, she’s pro-life, must be a Republican.””

“”She’s young and has a couple of kids — must be a welfare mom.””

“”He’s black and lives in the ghetto — must be a gang-banger.””

Don’t tell me that some of those labels don’t immediately conjure up images of what those people must be like — there are stigma attached to each.

I could list hundreds of labels and assumptions used every day as if they were the only features or characteristics of a person that are important to know.

However, the transitive property doesn’t always apply. Judging a person solely on these assumptions is discriminating and unfair.

How would you liked to be judged on one random aspect of yourself?

Or how about single labels such as, “”He’s gay,”” or “”She’s Mormon””?

Some people carelessly say such things as if those labels should explain everything about a person — when they most definitely cannot. Why is it that we are so quick to label people based on their appearance, social level, ethnicity or political ideology? Why has our society become so obsessed with labeling everyone and everything in sight?

I believe the answer is that it is so much easier to use a label to classify and categorize instead of taking the time to find out who that person really is.

Yet this is getting out of control.

Ever notice when watching CNN or C-SPAN that without fail every politician is immediately identified by party classification? It’s almost as if they don’t trust you to make your own judgment of the truth or the validity of a political person’s point of view without knowing from the onset what party that person is associated with.

I believe that this automatic labeling scheme is a clever way to keep the party faithful brainwashed — to keep us from questioning what our political loyalist says.

Party labeling inspires blind loyalty and instant dislike and hatred toward the opposition. It doesn’t matter what the truth is or who is right; all that matters is ensuring that the all-important label is there so that the conservative or liberal flock does not stray from party lines.

I am absolutely convinced that labeling is used to divide us and to incite feelings of hatred or dislike based on those who do not have the same labels.

I have seen people face each other for the first time and hate each other based solely on their party affiliation. I have seen people instantly hate politicians solely because of their party labels.

Labeling does not bring our society together, instead it emphasizes old hatreds and discriminations and serves only to divide us.

What are you? A Democrat or Republican? What are you? Persian, German or Caucasian? If you don’t choose, then you’re a wishy-washy person who is indecisive and stupid!

I give up. I will not adopt those divisive, discriminating and demeaning labels. I will not conform. Above all, I will not label myself. Sorry to disappoint those who are label-happy, but you won’t be able to shove me into a box and then slap a label on me as if that is all that it takes to describe me.

There is no label that will predict my behavior or beliefs on any issue. Expect contradictions and confusion. I urge my fellow students not to worry so much about categorizing, labeling and fitting every person into a neat little package. Take the time to look deeper beneath the surface. Take the plunge and rise above the quicksand of conformity. Above all, question, question, question.

Dare to be different. Dare to be a nonconformist. Dare to be yourself.

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