Is labeling someone a liberal or a conservative a cop out?

Jump to Last Post 1-26 of 26 discussions (52 posts)
  1. rhamson profile image73
    rhamsonposted 14 years ago

    The practice of labeling people as aligned with a certain mindset seems to be a popular way of marginalizing the individual and has a tendency to change the gist of the conversation or debate.  Is this fair to both parties involved and is it the recipe to end a free expression of ideas without bias?

    1. rebekahELLE profile image87
      rebekahELLEposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      not sure it's a cop out. some people identify their lifestyle with that label. I try to see the person and not their affiliation... sometimes though, that becomes almost impossible when you have someone living on the fringes who refuse to see or listen to anything but their own beliefs and opinions. hmm

      labels on good for buying food.

    2. profile image0
      Poppa Bluesposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Is it fair? Well apparently the Obama justice department thinks so since they overruled the overwhelming majority of a small town to leave party affiliation off the candidates ballots! … isan-vote/

      Personally I don't see a problem with labels. We use them everyday. It's a way to frame thoughts in context and provide a degree of understanding. Of course in any debate a common tactic, especially when one has a weak argument, is to change the subject. More recently the term racist has been used to describe tea party protesters and others that have voiced opposition to Obama's policies.

      1. rhamson profile image73
        rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I don't know how you could not see a problem with the labeling bias that is applied to a person when involved in a discussion.  The person it is applied to has to prove or disprove things that should not be related to the topic being debated.  I personally try to not react to someone calling me one or the other because it is a waste of time to defend either label when applied to the subject.  But I find that the person doing the labeling is set to prove the label and mindset through out the discussion rather than remaining focused on the topic.

        1. profile image0
          Poppa Bluesposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          Well it's only a problem if the label is used as the bassis for an argument. If someone is liberal and the discussion is on health care I wouldn't argue they are for it because they are liberal, however knowing that they are liberal actually adds to the understanding of why they would support.

          At the same time if the discussion was to answer the question "why do you have liberal views", I wouldn't expect the answer to be "because I am a liberal".

          So again it all depends on the context of the conversation or debate.

  2. tksensei profile image60
    tksenseiposted 14 years ago

    Of course it's "fair." Some people are liberal and some conservative. Nothing unfair about it unless someone is labeled something he is not.

    1. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      But is it fair to the argument when you label ones views as academic to their label and gloss over the details of the persons argument.

    2. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Doesn't that create an adversarial atmosphere rather than an expressive one?

      1. tksensei profile image60
        tksenseiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Too bad. If people are made of glass they shouldn't engage in discussion in the first place.

        1. rhamson profile image73
          rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          I don't think that the point you make is germain to the conversation because it has nothing to do with feelings but that of bias that is created from the labeling process.  Tough guys are immaterial to the intellectual objective exchange of ideas.

  3. Uninvited Writer profile image82
    Uninvited Writerposted 14 years ago

    Yes it is...

  4. Len Cannon profile image89
    Len Cannonposted 14 years ago

    There's nothing wrong with using a term to describe yourself or another's viewpoint.  The problem is when people decide that all people on a particular end of a spectrum share the same beliefs and the same reasons for these beliefs. Also, stigmatizing the terms is coutnerproductive.

  5. Uninvited Writer profile image82
    Uninvited Writerposted 14 years ago

    I consider myself a liberal...however, I have other views that probably don't fit into that little box that some assume fits all liberals.

  6. Misha profile image64
    Mishaposted 14 years ago

    I am always against reducing a person to a label. But some labels definitely can be useful when you don;t know the person well, as long as you remember they are just labels smile

  7. Jeffrey Neal profile image69
    Jeffrey Nealposted 14 years ago

    No, it's not a cop out, but the thing to remember is everyone is an individual. 

    Len and Misha have already said it better than I can.

  8. Helen Cater profile image60
    Helen Caterposted 14 years ago

    You are what you are. lets not put into pigeon holes.

  9. prettydarkhorse profile image55
    prettydarkhorseposted 14 years ago

    maybe we can only say at the most, or most of the time...

    most of the time I am a liberal like that because we decide on most issues differently at times but there is a tendency for you to cling towards an ideology most of the time,

  10. DennisBarker profile image60
    DennisBarkerposted 14 years ago

    I don't see how we can use labels to describe other people without an accurate definition of the terms to begin with.Are we talking about economics or attitudes to social issues, religion or politics. Each has a spectrum of opinion and attitude and the language being used can be misinterpreted without a clear definition and context.

  11. profile image0
    Madame Xposted 14 years ago

    Labels have certain definitions that some like to move about at will. But Len and Misha have said it very well.

  12. Fugitive From Now profile image60
    Fugitive From Nowposted 14 years ago

    A lot of people use labels to dimiss a thought they disagree with, for example if I label myself pro life the pro choice crowd calls me conservative and tells me to shut up, and if I say I'm against capital punishment the same pro life crowd I labeled myself as will call me liberal and tell me to go back to Africa, but if I'm in an African American community and I say I don't support affirmative action I'll be called an uncle tom and be told to drop dead.

    1. tksensei profile image60
      tksenseiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Why? The death penalty is pretty prevalent in Africa.

      1. Fugitive From Now profile image60
        Fugitive From Nowposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        The line is sarcasm, but each line was meant to reflect how one label leads to others that aren't true.  What are other labels that can be associated with Pro life- conversative-republican-right-wing-racist so I used the phrase to basically say do you see where all of this labeling leads.  Which is no where.

  13. Rayalternately profile image60
    Rayalternatelyposted 14 years ago

    Labels make it easy not to think too hard. It's easier to dismiss the views of a <insert label> as they're bound to be wrong. It would certainly be a start if we thought of each other as individuals.

  14. Bibowen profile image89
    Bibowenposted 14 years ago

    We all use labels to categorize people. They are necessary shortcuts. However, there are times when we should not use them. Wisdom is knowing when to use them and when to put them aside. For example, for close friendships, they're probably destructive in the long run.

  15. wyanjen profile image71
    wyanjenposted 14 years ago

    There is nothing wrong with assuming a what person's opinions are based on whether they are liberal or conservative.

    That is not the same thing as applying a label though. The most passionate people will surprise you with a different point of view from time to time.

    Putting somebody in a box in an insult. Doing such a thing to somebody is a sign of ignorance because it shows that you can't or won't think deeply enough to understand something beyond a broad and simple label.

    1. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      My point precisely!

  16. profile image0
    sneakorocksolidposted 14 years ago

    I think labeling by issue is more appropriate. The only time it applies to a group is when a group acts as a block that only votes one particular way or holds one particular view.

    1. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      But don't you think that by labeling something you create a bias in your mind and speak to to it rather than allowing the idea being expressed to come to fruition?

      1. profile image0
        sneakorocksolidposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I agree with you that rational mind should investigate and make an informed decision and give a person or idea a chance before closing the door. I moderate my opinions to fit my beliefs what I feel is right.

        Abortion, typically, a liberal position would be 'on demand'.
        A conservative position may be to outlaw it completely. My position is abortion is ok for rape, incest, or for the life of the mother when determined by an appropriate medical authority. So the previous two positions could be clearly labeled but mine might be a little tougher.

        1. rhamson profile image73
          rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          I think that is a valid point and a takes some individual fortitude.  I think I speak more to the crowd that throws labels up as walls whether they be positions or individuals and create division before they understand the conversation.  Thayt is the argument I make against labeling.

          1. profile image0
            sneakorocksolidposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            I would have to agree with you. If the purpose is to draw lines in the sand then they are not helpful.

            1. profile image0
              Madame Xposted 14 years agoin reply to this

              Not nesso - sometimes it becomes imperative to draw a line over which one cannot go.

  17. aware profile image65
    awareposted 14 years ago


  18. tksensei profile image60
    tksenseiposted 14 years ago

    If someone can't handle an "adversarial atmosphere" then they are not prepared to engage in a discussion. Such people mistake banal affirmation and  handholding for discussion.

    1. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      And some people consider an adversatial atmosphere misdirection for as a validation of their postion.  The result is a baseless argument under the guise of some implied authority.  In other words why the games?

  19. profile image59
    C.J. Wrightposted 14 years ago

    When using the terms to describe a person's views, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Its accuracy is dependent on the person’s perception. However when it’s used to describe the actual person it is an abstraction. It is often simply done to reduce the person to a set of opinions, ones the labeler may not share. It's easier to replace the person with an abstraction when you intend to insult or ridicule....

  20. profile image50
    Virat77posted 13 years ago

    I think a label should only be labeled on someone when they themselves label themself it, otherwise it's a subtle form of name calling and oversimplication on someone.  Example, is Jon Stewart a liberal?  I would say no, because on more than one occassion when called one, he didn't go along with it.  Also, he has shown to make fun of everyone, not just conservatives and has shown an ability to judge things by his own mind, not from the liberal handbook of what liberals believe.  It can be  frustrating when speaking from my mind, genuinely,and someone comes along and tries shove me and what I'm saying into some kinda box and call me a liberal.

  21. Greek One profile image64
    Greek Oneposted 13 years ago

    Yes it is

  22. profile image0
    Poppa Bluesposted 13 years ago

    I look at it like this, labeling someone instantly gives that person my view of their beliefs and at the same time establishes for that person a frame of reference to construct any response. If anything a label promotes understanding, for example if someone used the "N" word on me I would instantly know they were racist and any response from me would have to be framed in that context.

  23. William R. Wilson profile image59
    William R. Wilsonposted 13 years ago

    The connotations of the words are important. 

    If you think that all liberals are overeducated snobs who've never worked hard then labeling someone a liberal will not help you have a conversation with them. 

    Likewise if you think that conservatives are all racist neanderthals. 

    People are people.

  24. profile image0
    Poppa Bluesposted 13 years ago

    Of course that is the image that the left wants to project onto conservative since it serves their purpose to establish a Utopian socialist society under an oppressive central authority. I for the life of me can't understand why anyone would advocate for such a system, but needless to say that is what the left these days are advocating and Obama with the democrats are leading the charge.

    1. rhamson profile image73
      rhamsonposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      As usual it has been proven that one can't push past the bias and negative stereotyping that is attributed with it.

      The bias you have expressed is at the root of the problem and keeps the two sides from coming to any agreement.  The result is what you have now.  A polarized congress knowing that the way to get things done is to eliminate the others input and vote accordingly while you can.

      The same thing is almost assuredly going to happen with Obamas Supreme Court appointment.  Knowing that the 2010 elections will bring in a small but effective GOP majority, Obamas best effort to offer any balance with a candidate of choice will have to be made now while the democrats can push it through.

      It really is a shame as the bias you continue to offer sets this whole mindset in motion.

      1. profile image0
        Poppa Bluesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Yes I am biased, I admit it, I am biased towards freedom! I don't like government, it has a long history of corruption and inefficiency and ineffectiveness and yes I am opposed to anyone, or group that thinks differently. I think government continues to expand beyond it's charter and assume powers not granted to it and it uses  the "general welfare" and "commerce clause" of the constitution to justify it's reach. I believe there is a group of people that support the government take over of society and will stop at nothing to promote it, and I view such people as the enemies of freedom. There is nothing you or anyone else can say to change my mind and there's plenty of evidence to support my view and that's my view. I'm not trying to hide it and I'm not ashamed of it.

        1. rhamson profile image73
          rhamsonposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          The only problem with your bias is that it applies to ideals and not people.  You seem to wish to group people in one or the other as how it applies with your take on the motives and not the conversation.

          Bias in any form is counterproductive in any debate as to how objective thought and action can take place.

          It is easy to be right but the pride of bias fuels misdirection and only frustrates productive effort.

          1. profile image0
            Poppa Bluesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            There is no such thing as objective thought! We are all biased! Isn't it better to reveal those biases than to pretend they don't exist? Doesn't doing so make for a more meaningful conversation? I think it does. I don't think it's easy to be right, but you'd better have a damn good justification for taking my freedom if you want to convince me that you're right.

            1. rhamson profile image73
              rhamsonposted 13 years agoin reply to this

              I really think that bias shows itself to be more stubborn and a mindset that is less open to new thought.  The reason being that it assumes certain truths to the individual that cannot be revisited.  These very truths may be at the basis for the misunderstanding that is at the root in opposition to the understanding needed for a breakthrough.
              However small these truths may be, they build on each other to form conclusions that may have some bearing on the individuals opinion.

              Admitting a bias up front tends to group a person into certain mindset that they may not subscribe too.

              1. profile image0
                Poppa Bluesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                A bias is simply a direction from a reference, it has nothing to do with a mindset or being open minded or closed minded. It electronics a voltage is either plus or minus as measured from a reference point, ground or zero. It's not possible to be completely neutral, or at zero and still possess the energy to do work, nor is it possible to be completely neutral and have no opinion and accomplish anything, because at that point, you simply don't care.

                1. rhamson profile image73
                  rhamsonposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                  From Wikipedia:
                  Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective.[1]. In other words, bias is generally seen as a 'one-sided' perspective. The term biased refers to a person or group who is judged to exhibit bias. It is used to describe an attitude, judgment, or behavior that is influenced by a prejudice. Bias can be unconscious or conscious in awareness. Having a bias is part of a normal development. Labeling someone as biased in some regard implies they need a greater or more flexible perspective in that area, or that they need to consider more deeply the context.

                  Candy coat how you wish, it still refers to a preconcept, and while exposing that early in any discourse "lays ones cards on the table" it distracts the conversation away from its purpose.  An open exchange of thoughts or ideas without the unnessasary side stepping.

                  1. profile image0
                    Poppa Bluesposted 13 years agoin reply to this

                    No it actually supports what I said. Bias is a distance from a neutral position, we like to characterise politics as to the left or the right, but in order to be left or right of something there has to be a middle. We refer to those far left or far right as extremists. If you're in the middle, you have no opinion or you don't care.

  25. donotfear profile image85
    donotfearposted 13 years ago

    Hey, you are what you are. Simple.

    1. AdsenseStrategies profile image63
      AdsenseStrategiesposted 13 years ago



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)