9/1/18 From Positive Parenting to Genocide (in 688 words or less).

Do you know what really hacks me off, pisses me off, fucks me off so badly that it makes me want to punch someone in the face?

The phrase: ‘It’s Political Correctness gone mad.’

I come across it time and time again whenever someone is called out for using offensive ableist slurs like ‘mong’, ‘retard’, ‘window-licker’, and others. Rarely is there an apology or admission of a mistake made, just the petulant whine ‘You can’t say anything these days, it’s Political correctness gone mad’.

Political Correctness is simply a handy title for the concept of having respect for your fellow man.

No doubt you expect that other people will automatically show respect to you, and you’d be offended if they didn’t. Well then, you need to show that same respect to other people. Treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Show some respect for other people — don’t use language that demeans or dehumanises others, or slang words, like the ones above, that started out as derogatory terms for disabled people. If you do so inadvertantly, please apologise and admit your mistake: we all make them from time to time, and they can be a vlauable learning experience.

Have some respect for yourself, and some pride — don’t parade your ignorance and pitiful vocabulary in public. Learn better, kinder words — they speak for your character in the eyes (and ears) of the world.

I know, I’m preaching again, and nobody wants to hear that. But I’m not going to stop, because I believe I’m right, and when I’m right I won’t shut up just for the sake of being liked, of being thought nice. All the niceness in the world won’t do any good if it makes us ignore the bad things.

There’s a page on Facebook that calls itself ‘Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond that has repeatedly used the word ‘spaz’ in its posts, despite many previous complaints about its use, none of which it has made any attempt to address. It has a lot of followers and looks ‘professional’. I won’t post a link to it, I don’t want to drive any traffic to the page if I can avoid it.

Positive Parenting, my arse! Such high-handed disregard for others flies in the face of everything Positive Parenting stands for. Anyone with an attitude like that couldn’t Positively Parent a cockroach, never mind a child.

But it’s only a word, they don’t mean anything by it, they aren’t talking about a disabled person, sticks and stones and all that … honestly, you can’t say anything these days without someone getting offended, it’s Political Correctness gone mad …

NO! If you’ve offended someone the problem lies with YOU for giving offensive, not with them for being the one offended against. And it doesn’t just cause offence, it causes actual harm. Because when you do this, even casually, or in jest, even if it is not aimed directly at a disabled person, you degrade disabled people by turning them into a living insult, a by-word for something inherently despicable or disgusting. This, in turn contributes to, and perpetuates, the negative perceptions of disability in society, and, by a slow, continuous drip-feed effect, leads to disabled people being viewed as something other than human, as ‘less than’, ‘invalid’, and so gradually they are disregarded and ignored, their needs a mystery that the majority population thinks it need not concern itself with. And this, again, by slow, eroding drips, leads to poor public planning, to a lack of services, and accessible buildings and facilities. Ultimately, this leads some in society, who pride themselves on being intellectually superior, rational, scientific beings, to assert that these pitiful sub-humans (as they view them) would be better off dead, and they should, therefore, be subject to eugenic abortion and/or euthanasia.

There is, of course, another word for the targetted extermination of groups of people based on a shared characteristic, but the intellectuals, the influencers, and the policy-makers never use it, because it carries a much more negative connotation than the rational-and-scientific sounding term ‘eugenics’. It is a term associated with criminality and evil: Genocide.

You see, words DO matter.

 

 

 

 

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Member of Parliament or Misinformed Person?

So, I hear you ask, what’s the big deal about Nadine Dorries’ ‘window-licking trolls’ tweet? Let me explain:

Nadine Dorries wanted to shame the Twitter trolls by insulting them. When we want to shame others by insulting them we use language which suggest something inherently unpleasant or despicable, for instance, we might say ‘You piece of shit!’ Excrement is an unpleasant substance – nobody wants to be compared to that.

But Ms. Dorries chose instead to use a derogatory term for learning disability to shame the ‘trolls’, thereby implying that there is something so inherently unpleasant and despicable about people with learning disabilities that the malevolent individuals we call trolls should feel ashamed at the comparison.

Once again it seems learning disability is the last bastion of safety from which nasty, cowardly and small-minded individuals can fling insults at others without getting themselves into hot water.

But the use of such language is equally as wrong as the use of racist, sexist, or homophobic language, especially when you consider that people with learning disabilities are vulnerable, and may be less able to speak out and have their voices heard.

To invoke learning disability as an insult towards those we despise is dehumanising and demeaning to people who have learning disabilities.

Disability is not (only) a medical issue. Disability, like race, is a civil rights issue. It is a human rights issue. When MPs, and others, use learning disability as a term of insult to shame others, use derogatory language, or to make a cheap joke, they chip away at the humanity of all those people with a learning disability,  subtly eroding it in the public perception. This leads not only to poor attitudes, but to poor public policy-making and planning, generated by a lack of understanding. It contributes, drop by drop, to the mindset of the politicians who fail to see disabled people and their families as potential voters, and so ignore our needs; who see disabled people as non-productive, and a drain on the public purse – ‘Eaters’ as the Nazis called them, when advancing their extermination policies.

Nadine Dorries has many constituents who have learning disabilities, and many of them are eligible (and perfectly able) to vote. So are their families. She’s not representing them very well, is she?

Blogging About Disability part two: A Firefly Community post

In the second part of this two-part post on Firefly Community, on the subject of blogging about disability, I talk about what we should take into consideration when choosing terminology to use when blogging about (another person’s) disability. 

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE.

image

We have a relative who persistently refers to Freddie, and anyone with Down’s Syndrome as ‘A Down’s’, as though she were talking about a different species, or a breed of dog. We’ve tried to tell her that this offends us, but she just will not take the hint. We cannot cut this person out of our lives, but she refuses to see what is wrong with her attitude, because it is so entrenched – it is the attitude she was brought up with. Her words and phrases betray the fact that she simply does not see people with Down’s Syndrome as being quite as ‘human’ as you and me.

THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE.  The language we use to describe people with Down’s Syndrome, or any disability,  is one of the most important and powerful tools we can use in shaping how the world views them. We must discourage the use of words and phrases which make a differentiation between them and the rest of humanity. We must not define people by a condition they happen to have which is only one aspect of their lives.

My son is not ‘A Down’s’, he is not a ’47th Chromie’ — he is a little boy who loves puddles, picture books, baked beans and chips, his family, and the Gruffalo, and who also has Down’s Syndrome. He is part of the rich and diverse pattern of humankind that makes the world such an amazing place.

With thanks to the Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group for the photo at the beginning of this post.