The ideas of taxonomy have come up quite a bit recently, mostly in a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading, but also in a few conversations here and there. Looking back on classifications, there are the obvious examples of Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, Kraft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, and the first edition of the DSM with Menninger leading, all examples of a perceived need for classification. In Psychopathia Sexualis, some of the motivations were quite political, however scientific the taxonomy purported to be; while the first DSM was, according to Jon Ronson in The Psychopath Test, a sort of race to list everything any of the team of mental health professionals had ever heard was a problem.

However, despite this era of taxonomies and classifications, I very much agree with the first of these posters: language, labels specifically, are not necessarily an evil in need of abolishing. They are a means for creating subcultures and communities, attractors, lights around which people can huddle to help define themselves, and language in general is how we share so much of our lives and ways with each other. Language does have power, and can be used to hurt people, as is hinted at in many of the subsequent posters, but it’s difficult for me to accept denying labels and language all the same. Maybe I just really like words (as ought to be obvious), but too much of all that is good and wonderful in life, too much of the really interesting things to me, are bound up in language, worth exploring in language, prime for sharing in language.

I, like the original creator of the posters, just think it’s a really good idea for language and labels to be used kindly, and for our own classifications in an era of classifications to be used with common sense.