Labels, Canceling And Nuance

Daryl Kirby | January 28, 2023

It’s a sad day in America when a good man passes away yet we have to worry about labels like environmentalist and conservationist as being bad words. Long before there were terms to describe what we were doing, it was hunters and fishermen who protected and enhanced our lands and waterways. Regardless of the word or term, it was us. And regardless, the quality of a man or woman shouldn’t be defined by a single word. There are nuances in life, and in people.

A staunch conservative who votes the party line might also happen to be the biggest protector of his local blackwater river where he loves to drift crickets and poppers. That fisherman is most likely to be the first one blowing the whistle when a textile plant’s illegal discharge kills thousands of fish.

Today, there’s a tendency to define a person on a broad, grand scale based on one small tidbit of information. Even by a single word.

For example, let’s say a young person is suddenly fired or loses a college scholarship—torched because someone found a social media post made when 13 years old. Maybe in that video, the young person, while still a child, used a racist word while trying to be cool and sing a popular song in a video. Is that person a racist? For life? Well, maybe. But certainly not because they sang the words to a popular song in a social media video when they were a young, dumb child. 

A term we hear often these days is tribalism. Apparently it’s human nature. My tribe against that other tribe. My team versus your team. Social media stokes the fire of tribalism—often it’s more like gasoline on the fire. There exists a wonderful—yet horrible—ability through social media to publish and amply every opinion and thought. Someone digs up a social media video from a rising college athlete made when they were 13 years old, then a viral mob launches outrage and vitriol until that athlete is kicked out of school. Or it happens to an employee who is fired. A movie star who is canceled. Or a politician.

Politics should not be like pulling for your favorite football team—it’s not Georgia versus Florida or Alabama against Auburn. But there is one very clear fact that increases the divide between one side and the other. Folks who are kind, reasonable, and who really just want to live their lives without conflict and government intrusion are being pulled into a fight because they don’t like bullies. They don’t like sitting back and watching a fight that is far from fair. They see that only one ‘side’ of the political spectrum can get canceled based on a single belief or word.

Imagine if a teacher wore a red hat to school with four initials that stand for Make America Great Again. Now imagine if at the same school a teacher wore a Joe Biden t-shirt. Would the reaction be the same? Of course not, and that’s what is beginning to infuriate the ‘side’ that clearly sees a playing field that is far from level. The refs are cheating. We don’t put up with cheaters. It’s pulling us further into a tribal fight.

We’ve had our fair share of sad days in America. Yet, we remain, by far, to be living in the best experiment in governance the world has ever seen. We can still sit in a deer stand with a high-powered rifle. We can hunt millions of acres of public land, fish endless miles of lakes and rivers. We can fill our freezers without regard to supply chains or grocery prices.

In this country, if things get a little too crazy in a town or state, we can move to somewhere awesome, like rural Georgia, and leave the crazy to the crazies… let them sort it out. I don’t worry too much about what they’re doing in San Francisco when I’m sitting in my Morgan County deer stand or slow-rolling a spinnerbait.

Our simple yet profound joys of life are unique to Americans. Enjoy, celebrate, and never take them for granted. And let’s try not to be too quick to define or declare a person’s character or tribe. Remember there are nuances. Long ago they hijacked the term environmentalist. They made it a bad word for half the country. They are not getting conservationist. That’s still ours. It should belong to hunters and anglers, forever.

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