Do you wanna know a secret? Most people sense it intuitively but don’t know it exactly. That’s because while everyone thinks, only philosophers think about thinking.
(My brain actually thinks about thinking about thinking, but that’s because it hates me and wants me to suffer.)
Anyway, there are two kinds of labels. No doubt they’ve been named in the past, but let’s go with “reasonable” and “unreasonable”. The first type is used to sharpen our thinking and increase our understanding. The second type hinders rational thought, though no puny humans ever seem to realize it.
Reasonable labels include “pi”, “c”, “Planck’s Length”, and “the University of Alabama”.
Unreasonable ones include “liberal”, “conservative”, “progressive”, and “Crimson Tide!”
The difference is, of course, that everyone can agree on the definition of a reasonable label. Not that they will; some folks are so ornery they’ll deny what they know is true just to tick you off.
“pi”, “c”, and “Planck’s Length” aren’t just reasonable, they’re mathematical. Universal agreement on idealized precision like “3.14159…”, “186,000 mps”, and “1.616199(97)×10−35m” is the point of the labels.
But “University of Alabama” is reasonable, in that it conveys specific information upon which all can agree. “Some people believe that Forrest Gump really played football at the University of Alabama!” The label can be challenged (“Didn’t Gump play for Florida State?”) but both sides will agree that a correct answer exists regardless of how anyone feels about it.
Now look at “progressive” and “conservative”. What is the correct meaning for each label? There isn’t one. Any definition of either word, by either group, will be completely unacceptable to the other.
That is not reasonable. Nor is “Rolllllll TIDE!!”. These labels are for conveying attitude, not data-tude.
One could claim that “Crimson Tide” is a reasonable term. Most Americans would nod if you asked, “Is the ‘Crimson Tide’ the Alabama football team?” But some mavens might correct you: the “real” Crimson Tide is the fanatical horde that pulls on the team color and on Saturdays washes into the stadium in the tens of thousands.
The Crimson Tide. Get it? Get it? Sure you do, we cousin-marryin’ Bible-thumpers aren’t known for our subtlety. And so I shout “Rolllll TIDE!” in lieu of crying: “Mine is the side of God and Bear Bryant and Righteous Fury and all who oppose us shall be trampled and destroyed!”
Does that sound reasonable to you?
“Conservative” and “progressive” are just as inaccurate. You could argue they have undeniable meanings: “one who conserves” and “one who progresses”. Two problems: first, those are distinctions without differences. And second…you still wouldn’t be able to get partisans to agree to your definitions.
So are unreasonable labels bad? No, of course…
Roll Tide Roll Tide KILL THE FIGHTIN’ IRISH AND DEFILE THEIR FETID CORPSES!
…not. Assuming you root for ‘Bama, like all decent folk. And that you don’t use unreasonable labels as if they are reasonable or logical.
Which…of course…everyone does. Ann Coulter, who in addition to being hilariously bitchy is occasionally brilliant, uses “conservative” as if it means something besides partisanship. It does not. “Shirts and skins” conveys more factual data than any political label ever will. Ann is excellent at reason, but when she argues “conservatism” she’s just being another blond cheerleader.
Okay, I’m labeled out. But…didjaevernotice…the more “liberal” or “progressive” people get, the more they tend to dislike sports? For every basketball-loving Spike Lee there’s a dozen progs who sneer at football and baseball and NASCAR.
See, sports fans are barbaric. They indulge their atavistic natures by reveling in competition and victory and the mocking and casting down of their “enemies”. Of course it’s all mock combat between willing participants on level playing fields where cheating is universally detested.
Well…where getting caught at cheating is, anyway.
Naturally progressives believe themselves above the behavior of sports fanatics. This is because they are mentally retarded. They have as much or more aggression and competitiveness and mockery and destructiveness as anyone else. They just put those things into politics and “civics”. They are about actual hatred and conflict and destruction of their enemies.
They don’t care that we don’t want to play. They abhor level playing fields and fair rules. And they can’t even imagine that they cheat; “cheating” is when they lose, for whatever reason.
Well guess what, you (UNREASONABLE AND OBSCENE LABEL) progressives! Someday puny human minds will grasp what I see so clearly. America’s liberty lovers will finally know you for what you are.
When they realize that just because war hasn’t been declared doesn’t mean it’s not going on…they will annihilate you. And when your hive mind is shattered and you are revealed as the most pathetic human individuals ever to have lived…a big part of me will be chanting, “Rah rah ree, kick ‘em in the knee; rah rah rass, kick ‘em in…the other knee!”
But the rest of me is Christian, so it will be chastizing the part that’s cheering.
I don’t know about this sports thing. Football stadiums fill up equally in red and blue states. Most of my male liberal family and relatives (which means virtually all of my male liberal family and relatives) have been into sports at or above the norm, and I (the non-liberal family member) never could get into them too much (though I appreciate them in the abstract, and I like when they do that slo mo replay thing so I can see what actually happened, and I don’t mind watching Sumo Digest where they show clips of the best bouts and skip all the mumbo jumbo).* Conversely, my Plymouth Brethren grandpa, a soft-spoken, bookish, diffident man, was almost certainly not into sports.
I really cringe at the over-generalizing-regarding-people-not-on-one’s-side thing. I thought it was a peculiar disease of liberalism not too long. I guess it’s unavoidable now that we’re down to the ultimate cultural confrontation, but I still think it sucks. Among the negative effects are epistemological distortion; “I know that’s wrong because X says it, therefore something like the opposite must be true.” That means truth value is being determined by equal and opposite reaction to what some dumb-assed leftist says. Example from the last decade: “Neo-cons are bloodthirsty, warmongering, racist bigots.” Obviously wrong, but by taking the opposite position by default, neo-con policy, in retrospect well-meaning and idealistic but flawed, didn’t get proper scrutiny, I think.
*I have a tentative hypothesis that male sports appreciators have better spatial-analytical skills and can track movement at high speeds (women might have another set of motivators or demotivators re: sports enthusiasm–I don’t know). But me, I can’t even tell what’s going on until they do replays.
Heck, stadiums fill up better in blue cities, that’s where the population density is. I didn’t phrase it as an absolute, did I? I’ve interacted with enough “progressive” minds to be certain that–in general!–they don’t like team sports nearly as much as non-leftists. I’m not saying they don’t like the Winter Olympics better, because they do. Us poor rural redstaters didn’t do so much skiing and ice skating, I suppose. It’s why hockey isn’t big in the South.
Before I lose the chance to say this, in earlier comments invoking “the South” I was trying to make a point about noxious stereotypes and trying to urge consideration about how they feel on the recieving end.
For the record, I love the South. The South is the place that is holding the line. When the liberals mockingly proposed a divided America with “Jesusland” after the 2004 elections (Jesusland being mostly the South and most of the sunbelt and mountain states), I thought it was a fairly decent idea, and thought if I ever went back to stay, I’d want to go back to “Jesusland” and not the blue part that was absorbed into Canada (although now Canada’s actually looking a lot better than the failed blue states).