Labels Like Marriage

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Labels Like Marriage

I have a friend, a fellow teacher, who is a little obsessive-compulsive.  Her teaching files are color-coded, neatly labelled, and also have a color dot system to label individual papers in each file.  My files lurk, messily, in file drawers that stick and are missing one handle.  Her storage shed is neater than any part of my home.  However, she developed stress-related health problems and has been ordered by her doctor to lay off the labelling for a while.  I am perfectly healthy, but am trying to find some notes I need for a class next week. 

So, are labels a good thing or a bad thing?  And do they really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Fred Goodwin, former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was recently de-knighted, for bankrupting that bank.  He walked away with 25 million dollars and left British taxpayers to pay a 71 billion dollar bailout.  Her Majesty is not amused, and considers the label “Sir” important. Meanwhile, Rachel Maddow became the first person under the age of 40 to win the John Steinbeck award for “significantly contributing to causes that matter to the common person.” Unlike a knighthood or a doctorate, this comes with no label to attach before or after your name. Does that make the award less significant? 

Whilst riding a train in the UK, April James (19 years old) saw a 16 year-old lesbian kiss her girlfriend.  She allegedly shouted homophobic abuse and then beat the crap out of the 16 year-old. Although pleading guilty, James is contesting the prosecution's account of the incident. Why? Because which label your crime carries (assault, aggravated assault, or hate crime) makes a big difference in court. This is the motivation of anti-abortion groups in Canada and America seeking to legally label a fetus a “person” from conception.  It would legally label abortion clinic staff and patients “murderers.”

Another heavily contested label right now is “married.”  Should gay people be allowed to carry this label?  Should we want to? 

Rick Santorum stirred the pot last week when he stated that same-sex couples should not be granted the privilege of marriage because their relationships do not benefit society like heterosexual marriages. In his statement he carefully labelled marriage a “privilege,” rather than a legal right or unalienable right.  That label would remove the debate from the jurisdiction of the courts, where many