“Just Be Mighty Sure There Are Pickles In The Pickle Jar.”

Prejudice has been around since human beings were created.  Stories have been written about people who have been perceived as “different”, and the social problems they encounter.  Labeling people is both a mental shortcut and protective device.  It is a mental shortcut, because we need not take the trouble to investigate the personality or personalities in question in depth.  Labeling is a protective device, because it shields us from concepts, ideas, beliefs and ways of living that may run counter to our own.  A vivid example of labeling is given in one episode of The Rifleman, a western, which ran from 1958-1963.  The show was ahead of its time, because it featured two episodes starring an African American  before civil rights legislation was passed by President Johnson, and several episodes dealt with prejudicial labeling. How folks are different and the need for tolerance are some of the main themes in The Rifleman.  It was also the first television show to portray a widower and his son as main characters.  It is precisely the interaction between Lucas McCain(Kevin”Chuck” Connors) and Mark McCain(Johnny Crawford) that give the show its special dynamics as the adult world and the child world intermingle and often collide.  However, the interaction is blatantly honest and one displaying mutual respect.  Questions are raised, sifted through, answers arrived at.  In one episode, a saloon girl is called a hussy by some of the girls in Mark’s school.  When Mark asks his dad what a hussy is, Lucas replies:  “A hussy is a worthless woman.  A no account.”  Mark has already met the woman in question and his instinct rebels against this label.  Lucas explains that when folks are different, it’s easier for others to put a label on them rather than to take a closer look.  But Mark retorts:  “But a pickle jar has a label on it.”  And Lucas responds:  “Yes.  Just be mighty sure there are pickles in the pickle jar.”  A gleam comes into Mark’s eyes.