These days it seems like we can’t debate any issue without being labeled radical by those who oppose it, and no idea can stand on its merits alone, because we have to label it a Democratic or Republican ploy, or a Liberal or Conservative cause.

It doesn’t matter if something is good for the country or bad, if somebody from the wrong side of the Congressional aisle introduced it, the folks on the other side are automatically against it.

I truly believe that if President Obama found a cure for cancer, a way to end world hunger, and a method to make every American independently wealthy, the folks who voted the other party’s ticket would label it a Socialist plot. And likewise, if a Republican politician came up with something that would change the world for the better, the other side would call it a right wing conspiracy.

It’s not about good or bad, or right or wrong. It’s all about how we label it. If your guys came up with it, let’s label it good; and if the other guys dreamed it up, we automatically know it’s a harebrained scheme and label it nonsense.

There is no gray area any more, no room for reason or compromise. A good example is gun control. I am a lifelong gun owner, I have not one, but two, concealed weapons permits, and for a time I was a Federally licensed firearms dealer.

But I dropped my membership in the National Rifle Association years ago when they were launching a campaign against a proposed law in a state where I lived that would prohibit people from carrying firearms at school extracurricular events, such as dances and football games. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we need to take artillery to the Junior Prom!

While I believe we need to punish criminals, not honest gun owners, I also believe that not every gun control law is evil! For taking this stand, the newspaper I published was labeled anti-gun.

We also use labels in our never ending quest to be the most politically correct people on earth. These days we are supposed to refer to illegal aliens as “undocumented workers.” Since many of them are arrested for crimes, does that then make them undocumented criminals?

We even have to make nice when we refer to prisoners these days. Convicts are now inmates, or detainees. Nonsense! They are criminals! I don’t care if their feelings get hurt, do you? Hell, you can’t even call a streetwalker a hooker anymore! She’s now a “sex worker.” That other name was a discriminating label.

I could go on, but I’d better stop for now, before somebody labels me a windbag.

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20 Comments on Stick A Label On It

  1. Cheryl Rowland says:

    Right ON Bad Boy!!!! I just heard on the news tonight that several parents across the country are going to keep their children home from school the day that Obama is to address all the students in the nation. I think they are afraid he might try to think for themselves or something!!! Now I know I am giving away my age, but didn’t Roosevelt give regular radio updates on the nation? Why do these parents feel so threatened that the PRESIDENT OF THE USA (whether you voted for him or not, he is still the President and deserves to be respected if not liked) is going to speak directly to the students of the USA? If they feel threatened, why don’t they take a day off of work and go to school to hear what he has to say? They might learn something! If they learned to listen to their children and actually have an intelligent conversation with them, it might be one of the best things for this nation! To often we don’t think kids have a right to an opinion because we want them to be just like us. Open up the communication lines whether between parents and children or opposing parties or coworkers. Without OPEN communication this world is headed down the toilet!

  2. Connie Braidh says:

    Moderates. Yes, what happened to moderates? These days all you hear in the newspapers is about being far right or far left. I think there are still lots of moderates out here in the real world. Washington, DC is not the real world. Something happens to politicians (all of them) when they cross over in DC. I do mean cross over. They is some kind of weirdness going on there. They forget about compromise, they forget about working together for the good of the country, they forget about how to pay bills and live within a budget, they forget about being real.
    Social correctness is a bunch of BS. I am tired of worrying about using the right word. What is the right word? Who decides? Maybe we, the real people, have abdicated control. Maybe we are letting some one else decide for us what words to use and what words not to use.
    And what’s a racist? If I don’t like you (using that word in the general sense), then it must be because I’m a racist? How did that logic or illogic get started? Maybe I don’t like you because you just aren’t some one whose personality fits with mine. Maybe you are just a jerk. Maybe you are a nasty unkind person. Maybe you stink.
    Maybe we need to worry less about being socially and politically correct. Maybe… Connie B.

  3. Cindy -- Wyoming says:

    Well Bad Boy, I think you found a touchy button for all of us. I don’t like the Obamacare plan. Therefore should I attend an open meeting with a Congressional representive and express that view, I am not an educated, concerned citizen using my freedom of speech but someone scrounged up by the radical Republicans to create a loud and incoherent protest.
    Democratic Senator Harry Reid, a STRONG, proponent of Obamacare, no longer attends public meetings because he is afraid for his safety from radical Republican activists sent to these events to be disruptive and insite violence. (He said it, you can look it up!) He was invited to a meeting Sunday night in Pahrump, NV along with other Nevada representatives. He and the rest were NO SHOWS. I had to laugh as their pictures were taped to chairs and placed on the platform up front as if they were there. Now this was on a Sunday and still 175+ constituents attended to talk about the current proposed health care plan. The majority of those attending spoke for two minutes each stating their feelings to be placed on the record. I’m sure these won’t be read because these folks were obviously plants by the opposition and thank God Ole Harry stayed away or he might have been Bitch Slapped. I have a right to assemble. I have free speech. I don’t have to re-elect people to represent me who do not acknowledge these rights nor give a damn about my opinion. So why do Americans keep re-electing them? Sorry, I’m mad as hell about this “them against us so I don’t have to listen to anyone”. Who IS listening to the people!!!!!!!!!! Cindy

    PS Thank God I’m from Wyoming! My Republican Congressional representatives do listen along with our Democratic Governor. This state is still OK! How about yours and what are you going to do about it???????????????????????????

  4. Joseph Jones says:

    Republicans, and Democrats care too much about their party to be concerned with AMERICA.

    Left and right wings are just as bad, liberals and conservatives, care only about their own agenda.

    What ever happened to UNITED WE STAND?

    Divided we are falling.

  5. Redbear says:

    The problem with labels is that they end discussion. We don’t listen to each other’s ideas and insights, except long enough to place the one sharing on a topic into one group or another. Once that’s done, we then impose onto them what the supposed group position is. As in, “I know how you feel about immigration, therefore I know how you feel about highway reconstruction.” Nonsense! Not only does it prevent sharing the best ideas by cutting short debate, it leaves ‘moderates’ or ‘independents’ without a wolf pack to champion the positions.

  6. Dan Chance says:

    Hey Nick….I would venture to say, that your thoughts echo the sentiments of the vast majority of Americans. I just hope that the great apathy is finally starting to subside, and the voters will send a resounding message to the politicians. If we don’t, then we only have ourselves to blame. Your comments about political correctness are very right on. It’s not about left or right. It’s about what’s good for our country, and I sincerely hope that some common sense is soon restored in Washington D.C., or our children and grandchildren will be the ones left holding the bag.

  7. Norah says:

    “There is no gray area any more, no room for reason or compromise.” I agree! It is a sad commentary on the state of our culture.

  8. Gary says:

    You had to mentioned a subject that I am all to well aware of and that is convicts (inmates). I was a NY Corrections Officer for 28 years and just to show how labels and ridiculous ideas have changed. When I started we used to carry a black plastic baton (AKA stick). The state decides to do away with them for wooden ones because the black color was found to be intimating to the convicts. A few years ago officers were buying frisking gloves which came in of all colors black. So the state jumps in again and decides to buy gloves for all the officers but in blue again because the convicts found the black gloves to be more intimidating than blue. Go figure, ridiculous for sure. The world has really changed and not all for the better.

  9. Tom--Ohio says:

    Nick I remember whem Americans planned all year for that trip to the reunion. Came from all over the USA to spend that time with each other and share their love..Label that family. I remember when neighbors knew each others names and actually spoke, helped with each others needs when required.. label that community. Labels like were used with pride. “Positive’ was a label that was used in our daily lives and a good one. Hard to find much positive anymore. The economy..the war..crime..etc its all labeled “Negitive”. I miss the good labels like..fiends..honest..caring. Will we return to those labels? Label me ‘HOPEFUL”.

  10. I’m not going to jump into ths rant, because we don’t rant, and we don’t appreciate ranting. However, we can quietly agree with what you have said, Nick, and some of what your respondents said. It’s OK to speak up and say your piece without labels, without invective, without screaming and shouting.

  11. Merle Young says:

    You do not even dare say “call a spade a spade” any more as it will certainly have some bad meaning to some one.

  12. Chris Guld says:

    Unfortunate but true. The polarization of viewpoints has made it clear to me to keep my mouth shut when in group of people. It’s true that we can’t talk religion or politics. And, that’s too bad because it can be such an informative debate.

    I’m afraid that part of the blame falls on that invention I love so much … the Internet. There was a time when, to get news, you had to read a generally distributed newspaper or watch broadcast TV both of which covered all sorts of news and viewpoints, not just ones with which the reader agrees.

    To be sociable meant mingling in groups of real people with varying opinions. Now, even the fringe of the fringe can find like-minded friends on the Web and convince each other that their opinion is the only right one. You can get *all* your news today from only sources that agree with you.

    However, don’t think that this situation is altogether new … I recently read a biography of Lincoln and there were many pages devoted to how he felt that, whatever he said or did, the other side blindly maligned him in the press of the day. And, at the JFK library, which I visited a couple weeks ago, I watched one of his televised press conferences. A reporter asked him, “What do you say to those who claim your health care policy is Socialist?” To which Kennedy replied, “That’s the oldest argument in the book. Whenever governments institute programs that help the less fortunate members of society, those programs are called Socialist by the opposition.”

    The more things change, the more they stay the same!

  13. Shawn - Ohio says:

    Like or not, everyone labels and categorizes everything. It is the way the human mind works. It is how your brain organizes and interprets the world. Conceptually speaking, I automatically label things as black, white, good, bad, dangerous, risky, fun, conservative, liberal, or whatever. I also associate a personal bias/stereotype with that label based on all my personal experiences to date. This is not a bad thing if you are aware that you are doing it and “open” to re-valuating your labels as new information is available. In other words, learn to think for yourself. For example, if a person walks into a room, I might initially “label” them in some way (race, dress, attitude, height, handicapped) so I can process them as information (this is an automatic process that everyone does – no conscious input is required). However, let’s say I interact with them later, on a more personal level. Now I have more information and may find that my initial label is woefully inadequate in light of what I now know. The person has moved from being an “object” that I slapped an initial label on to a real person that has dynamic (and multiple) labels (some example of evolving labels as more information is available: friend, competent professional, engaging conversationalist, morose pessimist, positive optimist, father/mother, CEO, recovering drug addict, etc …). The concept can be applied to just about anything, including other concepts. Liberal and Conservative are merely labels or categories. Their meanings are subject to interpretation. Labels and words are powerful. Understand and use them wisely. It is true that the pen is mightier than the sword. The key is to understand that you label all perceived things in your world and you should be aware of this labeling and be open to revising those labels as needed. To thine own self be true, and try to think for yourself as much as possible. Cheers!

  14. don says:

    Another great post from Bad Nick. You are sure getting a lot of positive comments considering how “bad” you are! May I suggest reading another writer? It is some columns written by a guy named Charlie Reese. He worked for the Orlando Sentinel for quite a while then wrote independently. I don’t agree with everything he says but he makes you think. He’s retired now, I’m sorry to say, but even his old columns make one think.

  15. Cal Hall says:

    I would love to go back to the days when there was honest debate between the parties and there was compromise to come up with something that was good for the country. I have to agree with “Bad Nick” on this issue.


  16. Rick Devoy says:

    My! These are some very interesting and thought-provoking replies to “Bad” Nick’s comments on “labeling”. Methinks that this just confirms the notion that Mr. Russell must actually be a very intelligent person — otherwise, why would so many smart people listen to what he has to say!

  17. Jim Burnett says:

    A little something I wrote a week or so ago …
    Beyond the Label
    As I begin to write this I have just finished watching the memorial service for Senator Ted Kennedy. Having officiated at end-of-life memorial services, I know of the bias that is always apparent in such events, the “need” to show respect by speaking only of the good in a person’s life. Nevertheless, I was deeply touched by the personal stories that friends, colleagues and family shared, revealing a depth and breadth of Teddy that so few of us knew or even suspected. As I reflect on these “revelations” I look back on the time in my life when I was driven by a fundamentalist ultra-conservative perspective and of the negative view I had then of the Senator. And, I am aware how my perceptions and perspectives have since moderated – to the extent that even before today, I had come to see Senator Kennedy in a new light. While I could not always agree with his views, I came to deeply respect his intentions, his deep caring and respect for others, all others.
    As the memorial came to an end, I was struck by the thought of how little we really know of others and, how much of what we think we know is little more than labels affixed by others. The old saying came to mind, You can’t judge a book by its cover. We recognize there is a certain wisdom in that and are therein called to rethink our thoughts about others … especially when the primary descriptor is a label of some kind. Our vocabulary is pregnant with labels like Black, Republican, Democrat, Right, Left, Conservative and Liberal …labels which hide the greater truths of the who and what of a person.
    I wonder how many people I know primarily by labels I and others have placed on them. People, all people, are significantly more than the sum of all labels others have placed on them.
    I wonder how life would change if we tossed aside our labelmakers?

  18. John and Karen Knoll says:

    I can’t believe how the conservatives in this country are screaming because President Obama wants to address the students in this country to encourage them to stay in school and get an education!!!
    I could understand if he makes it a political speech, they would be upset afterwords. But before they hear it? As you said if it comes from the other side it must be bad.
    By the way, President Reagan did the same thing only the Democrats didn’t protest.

  19. Nina Seibel says:

    Obama wasn’t my first choice for President either, but I respect him for making the effort to talk to our students to encourage them to stay in school and get their education. Our students should be honored. Their parents that are having such a stupid “hissy” fit should be ashamed of themselves. Doesn’t sound like education is very important to them. Our schools must be lifted out of the mud and improved or our country will certainly be lost.

  20. Whip it on us Bad Nick—“re-Stick a label on it”.

    I’m beginning to understand my grandfather’s comments made in the ’50’s (re-politicians): “I Don’t Know What They Are For; But I’m Ag’in it”.

    Smile—-this includes Independents, Green Party, Democrats, Republicans and all of you who re-elect these wackos in each election.

    [Name one good politician who isn’t in your district, region, state–“or your party” affiliation.]

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