words words words

this was first seen at http://ronin-kakuhito.livejournal.com/253872.html
Ladies and gentlemen, some of you, though possibly not any of the folks who read this journal since my audience is fairly small, are self proclaimed label haters. I run into them whenever I read a political or philosophical discussion online. They say things like "I hate labels, I'm not an X, I'm just a human." Guess what? Human = Label... (you know, there isn't really any way to demonstrate the one letter at a time pounding on the keys that I used to type that "label")
Labels are nouns.
Nouns are descriptive words.
If I say "Sabrina is a Cat" I am saying that there is a category of things that we call cats. They have a list of traits, some essential, some non-essential, and when I call something a cat, I am saying that it has the essential traits and may or may not have the non-essential traits. I'm not oppressing Sabrina by saying that she is a cat. My usage of the word "cat" to describe her? It doesn't force her to take up all of the assorted traits that people associate with cats. It doesn't keep her from wagging her tail like a dog when she gets excited. (This is quite amusing. She grew up with dogs. She uses several pieces of dog body language. She also uses pieces of very similar in form but opposite in meaning cat body language. Hilarity ensues.)
Reality informs nouns, not the other way around.
When you start talking about the nouns attached to human endeavors, people suddenly lose sight of the fact that they are nouns (or adjectives derived from nouns.) The word doesn't shape you. It gives you a handle by which to start making it clear to others what it is that you are, but it is merely that, a handle. It is, in essence a short hand, so that you don't have to go about handing out "this I believe" 4X6 index cards in microprint.

Also? On a mostly unrelated note, dissension is not divisiveness. The first is immensely valuable in any situation where you are searching for a truth with a group of people. The second is not.

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