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Conservatives saddle her with labels
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

I’m writing in response to Al Barth’s letter which outlined the insulting labels and skewed characterizations Democrats supposedly used to describe his beliefs. Taking a page from Barth’s book, here is another perspective: Over time, extreme Conservatives have, in Barth’s words, “Saddled me with many labels, all because I believe I’m supporting my country, the Constitution, our troops and freedom”. I’ve been called a “baby-killer” because I support a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body and the freedom to choose reproductive options that I, myself, might not condone. I have been accused of defying the Constitution and of being bent on destroying the Second Amendment simply because I want reasonable and responsible restrictions and laws placed on gun ownership and have these limits adequately enforced.

I’m a troublemaker because I question authority and don’t accept Fox News as gospel or even “fair and balanced.” I’m Anti-Christian because I believe that people of all faiths and even atheists deserve the right to worship (or reject worship) without oppression or intimidation. I’m a threat to national security because I believe our brave men and women who serve in the military should not die senselessly or suffer needlessly when our country finds itself bogged down in Middle East wars. I’m a Socialist for supporting government commitment to assisting those citizens in need, whether they be the poor, children, the infirm, or the elderly. I am an advocate for moral decline and decay because I feel that all citizens, regardless of race, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities. Now, let me be clear here. I have never actually, on a face-to-face basis, been personally branded with any of the aforementioned labels. I present them only as examples to illustrate the fact that labeling is not one-sided and is unfair, irrespective of the intended target. I do wonder if Mr. Barth himself actually has personally experienced being “saddled” with the litany of negative labels he described, since a good portion of his letter is taken word-for-word from Internet sites. Only he can say for certain.

Despite obvious differences in perspective, Mr. Barth and I do have something in common. Like Mr. Barth, I too am “darn proud” of my beliefs, despite the derogatory labels some detractors attach to them. But unlike him, I don’t need to ask, “What’s your point,” because I understand exactly what the point is. It’s actually quite simple: No one, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, conservative or liberal, moderate or extremist, enjoys being ridiculed and insultingly labeled for their beliefs or opinions.

We criticize Congress for being so dysfunctional, but we should look in the mirror and recognize that many of us either set the bar low or echo the negativity. When we act like it’s acceptable to pigeon-hole each other, merely because we disagree, when we demonize or generalize about one another with no supporting evidence, and rely on stereotypes and the superficial, rather than a thoughtful examination of issues, we show our Congressional representatives that, like lemmings, we can be easily led (or misled and manipulated) to our own folly and the country’s detriment. What we need is an honest national conversation instead of sticking our collective fingers in our ears and stubbornly trying to drown out the voices of those whose opinions differ from our own. Of course, we are free to disagree, since diversity enriches this nation, but we should do so respectfully. Demeaning labels are both unnecessary and nonproductive.

Karen Pearsall


Feb. 18, 2013