Labels

“People are too complicated to have simple labels.”

― Philip Pullman

“Once you label me you negate me.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

A label is nothing more than an attempt to give one an idea of the contents but, like all generalizations, it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

That Kobe steak on the menu you ordered and ate at the restaurant probably wasn’t actually real Kobe beef, unless you ate it in Japan. Almost all Kobe beef sold in the US is “Kobe-style”. Real Kobe comes from Wagyu cattle in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture; the Kobe beef here is primarily from crossbred domestic Angus cattle. Purveyers can legally omit that fact in their labeling because the US doesn’t recognize Japan’s trademark on Kobe beef.

Another example in mislabeling, or deceptive labeling, is in wine. Federal rules require a wine labeled as from  a specific, distinctive region – say, Edna Valley in California’s San Luis Obispo County – must be fully produced within the state and contain at least 85% of grapes grown in that region, if it is sold out of state through interstate commerce. That said, wines can be labeled as being from, say, Edna Valley, even if the wine is made in, say, the state of Georgia, so long as that wine isn’t sold outside Georgia. So if you ordered and drank a glass of cabernet listed as from Edna Valley at that restaurant in Atlanta, it might have come from a winery just outside of town and not California.

And labeling people can be just as inaccurate and deceptive.

Just because someone espouses support for minority civil rights, or concerns about climate change or the growing income and wealth disparity between rich and poor, it doesn’t mean they should be labeled Liberal. They may also hold positions that could be considered quite Conservative, such as supporting the Second Amendment right to be armed, that opposite sexes should not share locker rooms or bathrooms, or for securing our borders against illegal aliens.

They could just as easily be called conservative. But they will be labled as either one or the other depending on the bias of the labeler and depending on the subject at hand in a discussion.

People are not all one thing, they are an amalgam of many different – and sometimes seemingly contradictory  – beliefs.

People are too complicated to have simple labels.

And once you label them, you negate – invalidate – that which makes them what they really are.

More than a one-dimensional person.

– Bill

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