Labels only apply to pinheads | VailDaily.com

Labels only apply to pinheads

I hate wearing nametags.Not quite an official phobia, mind you, but more of a social and perhaps political annoyance. My frustration began back in the fall of 1994, when I had made the bizarre decision to run for an Avon Town Council position, which was based upon a girlfriend, an ego, and a few too many Bud Lights. But we’ll save that story for another time.Upon entering a room for campaign debates, Q & A’s, etc., I quickly discovered that no one paid me any attention whatsoever, unless of course I slapped on a nametag and – voila! – the room suddenly discovered I was a candidate.After a few meetings I stopped wearing the silly things, working the crowd for feedback as Joe Blow and then watching the faces of those who had made particular comments about specific “things” without knowing who I was upon discovering my Clark Kent identity.Juvenile in a way, I suppose (look at the source), but folks were more likely to show their true colors, a face-to-anonymous face Tipsline, if you will.Continuing to this day, I still refuse to wear one, knowing that most people will treat you differently if they assume they know something about you before the conversation begins.Being labeled a conservative or liberal works in similar fashion, especially during an election season. Each week these very pages contain letters and such attempting to define differences between the two, as if each of us can be pigeon-holed into a tiny box of ideological stereotypes, binding our votes one way and one way only.What a crock full of blithering balderdash.Being a “lib” or a “con” is nothing more than a general description of an individual based upon a broad-brush stroke of emotion toward a particular issue at a particular point in time. The unfair portrayal can, and often does, change upon the very next issue.Being creatures possessing free will, we are allowed to do that.Just because we turn left at one corner does not determine whether we turn left or right at the next. We might go straight. We might turn around. We might stop in our tracks. Who knows?These false attributes are little more than mental stereotypes, on the same level as racism based upon physical stereotypes. To wit: If a phrase is deemed racist merely because of the skin color surrounding the mouth of the source, then those doing the “deeming” need to look in a mirror to view the actual racist.Our species wastes too much time searching for enemies to fight, when instead we could be using that very energy to help the greater good of mankind.Whoa, wait a minute. I’m getting way off track here, sounding like a Miss America contestant. This column was supposed to be about liberals and conservatives and their differences, not the metaphysical train to philosophical righteousness. Where was I? Oh, right …Labels should be meaningless when standing inside a voting booth, whether you are touching a screen, filling in a bubble, or pushing out a Floridian chad. Condemning the person in the booth next to you because you disagree with their position on an issue is your absolute right. But remember, the Golden Rule applies to all.Linda Ronstadt, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Moore, etc., need to learn that free speech applies not only to the stage, but to the audience as well. Same holds true for Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Gov. Schwarzenegger. Neither side is correct all of the time, or wrong, especially when it comes to important issues like taxes, the environment, social programs, racism, sexism, patriotism, NASA, WWIII, WWIV, abortion, religion, gay marriage, quality of a candidate’s hair and whether Avon’s giant flag sells cheap furniture made in Taiwan.However, those of you who still insist on believing the dogmatic labels associated with each, such as libs will vote for a veteran in 2004 but supported a “draft-dodger” in 1992 and 1996; cons want to halt the rise in fundamentalism around the world but support prayer in American schools; libs are pro-choice but against the death penalty; cons are pro-life but for the death penalty; cons wave the flag while libs burn it; libs want to kill “Big Tobacco” but legalize marijuana; cons say “Buy American!” but send jobs overseas, etc., – perhaps deserve their very own label: IDIOT (Ignorant Doofus Intolerant Of Truth).But who would admit to wearing that nametag?Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.net