Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's in a Label (Part 1)

I haven't jumped on the anti-NoLabels bandwagon mainly because I don't think NoLabels is actually attracting enough followers to be worth anyone's attention. But, because everybody else is doing it, I guess I'll chime in.

I pretty much ignore their Statement of Purpose and Declaration because they're statements that all Americans want certain things that are obvious. Yes, all Americans want a government that works and is driven by "common sense and shared purpose". And as soon as Bernie Sanders agrees with me that the way to do that is by paring back the size of the central government to the limits outlined in the text of the Constitution I'll be happy to support him. Until then, his theory on what works is radically different than mine. They appear to have removed most of the actual discussion about labels from their website, but at one time they were saying that we should stop using terms like "racist" and "socialist" in conversation about politics and politicians. Before we stop using them, can we figure out what they mean, where they came from, and why someone would want to stop using them?

In the late 1990s First Union bank was getting rather famous for nickle-and-diming their customers. They actually had a fee for talking to a teller instead of using the ATM. As someone with an IQ above room temperature should be able to quickly figure out, this was causing their customers to flee to other banks. Their management decided to change their policies to be more customer friendly, but they were worried that they had done so much damage to the brand that people would never come back to a bank named "First Union" so they bought a regional bank named "Wachovia" and adopted the "Wachovia" name for all of their branches.

On the other hand we could go to any reference on racial slurs and find a host of not-fit-to-put-in-my-blog labels with pejorative meanings that paint a group of people with a broad brush in an offensive manner.

I can see why those labelled with either of these types of terms would want to stop seeing labels, but First Union poisoned their own brand and they well deserved the disdain they got. So which type is "socialist" or "racist"?

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