Mislabeling Things

Peter H Christian
5 min readJan 6, 2024

verb (used with object) to label wrongly, incorrectly, or misleadingly

Words have specific meanings. They always have and will have. Yet in today’s age, too many people are twisting, distorting or out and out lying about not only word meanings but what they are saying when using certain words and / or phrases.

As a for instance, the word racist is bandied about until according to some, everything is racist. The definition of the word racist is characterized by or showing prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

This means in the strictest sense that one is picked upon because of his or her ethnicity. When I was growing up there was a running joke that if someone wasn’t very bright, they must be Polish. That certainly picked on that ethnicity and anyone from it was painted with a dumb sign. That was certainly racist.

But today, if one has no idea that someone is of Polish ancestry and can be assimilated to the Polish people and is truly dumb then if they are called so because of the facts without bringing their ethnicity into it, that is not racist. It just means they are not particularly bright regardless of their background. And we have that in all races, sexes, or whatever. Dumb is dumb and you are not racist for calling that individual out for being so. It may not be polite or nice, but it certainly isn’t racist.

Yet, some would label it exactly that. And so the perpetrator is now termed a racist, when that was not their intent. They are now placed on the same level as a true racist who has it in for Polish people. And so the word racist becomes diminished and loses its impact when truly finding and identifying something or someone who is a real racist.

The same is true on the other end of the spectrum. Too many average individuals are elevated to great or hero status for little or no reason. Today to elevate someone they are called a GOAT (acronym of Greatest of All Time). In my day, if someone called you a goat, that was certainly not a compliment. It meant more like lazy and scattered, certainly not great.

And you can only have so many GOATs in existence. Not everyone can be the GREATEST. But oh how we try. Accomplishment means less and less and participation seems to mean everything, regardless of the results.

This is particularly true in sports. It used to be that to be great in baseball you had to hit over .300 consistently with at least 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. Pitchers had to have 20 win seasons with ERAs well under 3,00. If you did those things you got paid big bucks for that time and you were considered to be great.

Today, if you hit .275 that is considered superstar status. Forget about 20 win pitchers. Pitching every fifth day versus every fourth has essentially eliminated that. If a pitcher pitches 200 innings in a season that is considered remarkable.

And bench players hitting .250 or less are now millionaires. It used to be if you hit that low you never made the majors. Some poor guys in the minor leagues couldn’t get to the majors even if they were batting .300 because the players on their major league team were hitting at least that.

These are just two examples of things either mis-termed or mis-labeled. There are lots of others. Many come from our leaders who try to put a spin on things to sell them. Things like “Inflation Reduction Act” was passed and inflation hit a 50 year high. Affordable Health Care, with low premiums but high deductibles and so-so coverages. Or Social Security which is not so secure after allowing payments to many who never paid a cent in and to which the fund was raided to pay for other government nonsense.

If you are like me, you are tired of calling things what they are not, or trying to convince people things are good or better than they seem. Let’s call things what they really are. If they are good, we will see the goodness and agree that they are good. If we cannot see goodness, then things are not what they are and stop trying to pretend they are by calling them something they are not.

There is an old saying, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig”. There are lots of swine running around these days, being called anything but what they are. But they still oink and roll around in the mud, getting themselves and us pretty dirty.

Be wary of things that are being oversold. When it doesn’t pass the smell test, call it out. Words are important. It is how we pass information and communicate things to one another. When we misrepresent what we are saying we do a disservice to those we are trying to communicate with. That does no one any good and can hurt people in the end.

It is important that things are labeled and called the correct things. To do otherwise is to either show ignorance of our language or to try to fool others into believing something is other than what it really is. I hope you agree and will not be fooled by this practice. I am sure it will continue. That does not mean we have to accept it but should rather call it out for what it is.



Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” (4 out of 4 star review on Online Bookclub) which are highlighted in his profile. He is also published in a variety of professional magazines. He is most appreciative of Dr. Rodney Ridley, Donald Schalk and Gaetan Gianinni of Alvernia University for their support in allowing him to teach Project Management at the University.



Peter H Christian

Peter played a key role in the 700% growth of Crayola over 17 years. His first book, “What About the Vermin Problem?” is now an Amazon bestseller.