Okay, pop quiz. What box would you place the following ideas in?
The best solution for hate speech is more speech, not less.
Demilitarize the police.
Excessive and wasteful taxation is theft.
Climate change is a real problem.
The right to bear arms shall not be infringed.
Drug legalization/decriminalization would lead to a more equitable criminal justice system.
Religious liberty should be protected.
Immigrants built America and we should knock down barriers to legal immigration.
Free markets lead to freer people.
Okay, what boxes did these check? Liberal? Conservative? Libertarian?
I don’t know – I pulled them all at random from a box titled “Kelvey’s political beliefs.”
Have you noticed that shoving ideas into strict boxes makes us reluctant to pull from the boxes that wear labels we don’t like? We prejudge the idea based on what it falls under instead of on the merit of the idea itself.
Instead of right or wrong, factual or nonsensical, reasonable or radical, we let the labels do the talking. And these labels often make us swerve away from an idea if we deem it too out-of-step with the rest of the boxes we like to dig through.
And you all know the feeling of agreeing with an idea that is boxed in with a label you don’t like. You cringe a little bit, wondering, “Did I really agree with something that ____ thinks?”
We like our boxes because it takes the hard work of analyzing ideas one-by-one away. It’s much easier to sort boxes than it is to sort all their contents. It allows us to lazily claim whole boxes as our own instead of pulling together a worldview composed of individual ideas.
Let’s make things harder on ourselves. Let’s think some more. Let’s take ideas out of their boxes. They were never supposed to be labeled and sorted like this anyway.