Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Comment is Free



A very quick blog to let you know that I’ve had an article published by Comment is Free:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/jun/01/disablist-language-retard

The editors inform me that loads of angry comments = a good piece.

Accordingly mine must be the best in all of Christendom because it’s anger ahoy over there!

Still if I’ve achieved one thing today – besides making faceless internet dwellers go postal – it was to bring ‘disablism’ to people’s attention.

Many of the posters on the site accused me of being a loony left winger who had made this term up for the purposes of my article.

The fact that they didn’t know it was an established phrase, much less a reality, is very telling, and underlines exactly why it is so important to have this discussion.

5 comments:

Madam Miaow said...

I think we should all have a "crap filter". And use it.

We do see "retard", "fucktard" and "spazz", to name a few, as more innocent than obvious racial and sexixt terms. My own inner alarm does not screech as loudly for these as with the more obvious ones and yet it should. Partly because an able person of colour can deck you while a "chick" can stab you with her stiletto.

Articles like this are vital reminders that, nope, it's still defining another human being as having no worth. These terms are dehumanising. So stoppit.

Those commenters ridiculing the debate over at CiF just want us to switch our brains off and not even think about it. I would use an epithet to describe them. But you'd only be cross.

@writerJames said...

Are they really criticising you for making up the word 'disablism' as if that were a bad thing, even if it was true? It seems like it'd take a tragic lack of imagination not to realise that it's a useful word that describes something real, and if it really hadn't existed before you made it up then it's about damn time someone did.

The crappy IE6 I'm stuck with at work won't let me sign in there to comment, so I'll have to tell you here that it's a great article. Nicely outlines the distinction between being censored, having your basic right to free speech unfairly stifled, and simply not being allowed to be on Channel 4 any more.

Christina Martin said...

Thanks guys.

@MadamMiaow - You are so right, these words don't get viewed as being half as dodgy as they are.
People have made the argument that sometimes when people use them they don't know it's to do with disability - hence I shouldn't be offended.
I always think that instead of shrugging and saying 'they don't know what they're saying' (although they invariably do...) that I should enlighten them. This word has this meaning, and words do hurt.
Thanks again for your comment. You can always be relied upon for some sense and wit! xxx

@writerJames Indeed. They were saying 'oh here we go a new 'ism'...are you serious...did you just make that up...I suppose you'll be wanting 'disablist' counselling now' And the rest.
Thus making the point of my article for me.
Why do people get angry when one tries to defend the disabled? A group that can in some cases, do nothing to defend themselves while the rest of the world makes light of their situation.
Why do they think that by asking people to reassess their approach to language - just reassess, nothing more - that they're being curtailed?
Oh and one person called me a 'retard'. Nice.
They deleted his comment. He then came back on the thread later crying...you guessed it...censorship.
Ah, the struggle to retain the use of the word 'retard'. It'll go down as being second only to the Civil Rights Movement! xx

Liz Ransome said...

Great article in the Guardian. You hit the nail on the head when it comes to the disproportionate views about what is offensive and what is not. Remember how mush fuss was caused over Jade Goody's racism- it was as if the masses wanted her hanged for her 'crime'. But this doesn't seem to enrage others in the same way when it comes to disablism.

Christina Martin said...

Hi Liz

Thanks :)

Yes, there seems to be an outrage quota and there's none left over for the disabled.

I think we are due another rejig of our language, I really do.

As one of the CiF moderators said, if CiF (and indeed the internet!) existed in the 70's, and this article were about the use of the word 'Paki' on TV, you'd find the same comments being posted.

People never like change - or even th suggestion of it - and always kick back against it.

x