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Labels should be put on things like jars and clothes, not people. In America, we say everyone has the freedom of speech, but that freedom often bears a high price tag when an individual’s expressions are not shared by the masses or a powerful few. As a country, we no longer listen to hear. We listen to be offended. We’re quick to label and even quicker to judge. We’ve become addicted to outrage.

For example, because a person believes in God, the Bible and marriage being between a man and a woman, doesn’t make him homophobic or a bigot. That is simply an expression of his faith. People should be allowed to express their own believes without fear of being unfairly labeled and maligned.

Just because a person doesn’t like misogynistic music doesn’t make her a conservative. She may just not appreciate being cursed out to a hot beat. Because a person doesn’t believe that a known terrorist was responsible for the September 11 attacks doesn’t make him anti-America or pro terrorists. It makes him perhaps a skeptical American. This country affords each individual the freedom to express his views, whether those views are intelligent or flawed.

Because a person speaks in a moment of frustration and says something offensive which he later regrets, doesn’t make him a racist or homophobic. It may just make him a momentary idiot or overly emotional. Should a person speak without a filtering system? It is not wise, but it happens. In a free society, we should give each other the room and compassion to make mistakes, express convictions and have stupid moments without being labeled, judged and condemned in the court of public opinion.

By labeling people, you decide what value you will place on them, making you now guilty of the same label you placed on them. Labeling people gives you permission to devalue and mistreat them, producing prejudice and hate. People should not be judged solely by their colorful commentaries. People should be judged by the total content of their lives.