Optimus Prime Rib wrote:It is aggravating that people feel the need to rush to the aid of those who can speak for themselves. I actually felt the need to call a friend of the family who has cerebral palsy and ask him how he felt about this issue. Then I asked him how he felt that this has turned into a useless debate while "able bodied" people talk about how helpless he is and we should feel bad for him.
I think the way you're characterising this is kind of bizarre. I'm not rushing to anybody's aid; I'm talking about behaving in a fair and decent way, and being aware of the impact of certain words, the way language is sometimes coded to enforce social prejudices. Your mate can kiss *my* ass if he thinks I'm going to simmer down on that just because one disabled guy comes along and says he can fend for himself.
Same as if a bunch of women said, "You know what? Don't bother talking about feminism and women's rights any more. We're doing fine. Just drop the whole thing, okay?"
You'll always be able to find examples of individuals who say prejudice hasn't held them back or doesn't bother them. It doesn't mean it's not holding back other people like them. More importantly, it doesn't mean that prejudice is actually a good or acceptable thing. What you seem to be saying here is: "Oh hey, it's fine if the words we use reinforce negative images of minority groups as long as I can produce examples of said groups to say they don't find it offensive."
I mean, jeez, I'm sure very few Americans with cerebral palsy actually find the word 'spastic' offensive, because if they ever complained about it, they'd have been shouted down. So they've had to learn that it's 'acceptable'. Similarly, I bet many of them, like your friend, have developed a thick skin towards more obvious prejudice and don't let it get to them anymore. Doesn't mean the prejudice is right to start with, does it?
I mean, you still seem to be mixing up the idea of something being 'offensive', ie. rude, with the problem I'm actually talking about, which goes much deeper and concerns how people form their identity in relation to wider society.
Optimus Prime Rib wrote:Socially advantageous because I am white and male? That does not apply anymore.
I gotta say, dude, if you think this, you're living in cloud cuckoo land. Check the average wages for different groups some time soon.
Optimus Prime Rib wrote:It has become our nature to coddle those who dont necessarily need it in a selfish need to make ourselves feel better.
I call BS here as well. It's still our 'nature' to distrust and victimise those who're different. We just have certain forces helping to rein us in these days, most of which are unappreciated and actively loathed for spoiling people's fun.
Optimus Prime Rib wrote:You know what most people with some kind of handicap want? Its not "name sensitivity", it is simply treat them like a regular human being.
This is a 'well, duh' point. But it's got little to do with what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about the way we treat disabled people in a one-to-one kind of way; I'm talking about thinking about how the words we use can reinforce social prejudices, subtly marginalise groups, et cetera, et cetera.
Optimus Prime Rib wrote:why has this created multiple threads?
Well, (a) Hasbro have changed the name in the US now as well. So they obviously realise something is wrong. (b) I think it's created multiple threads because there's a kind of kneejerk 'anti-PC' reaction to any suggestion that there's something wrong with using a particular word in a particular way.
Warcry wrote:I fail to see a distinction, to be honest. If enough people use the word without knowing what it's 'meant' to mean, that's the very definition of the old usage being obsolete.
It's not obsolete if people in an important profession - and their patients - still understand it in that sense. It's simply a lesser known definition. I completely understand what you say about language's fluidity, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say a particular meaning no longer exists when it's widely understood within the medical profession.
Warcry wrote:Right now, you're trying to stick up for people who aren't offended (disabled folk in the US/Canada) and thus don't need sticking up for, even when people who have a lot more experience with North American language and North American disabled folk are telling you that there's really no issue here to get worked up over.
1) As I said to OPR above, I'm not really concerned about whether people are 'offended'. It's the subtle reinforcement of existing social prejudices that matters here.
2) North American people telling me there is no issue only tells me that North American people don't think there's an issue. That only holds any weight so long as they've properly considered/investigated the possibility that an apparently harmless word can be part of a meaningful systemic process of marginalisation. If the attitude is "Oh, look, if no one makes a fuss over here, then there can't possibly be any problem" then I'm not sure that tells me much.
I mean, suppose we were back in the slave days and I was complaining about that. You'd have North Americans saying, "Hey, man, cultural differences!" and: "I just spoke to my slaves - they say everything's tickety-boo. They're very happy working for me. So hey, no harm done! Now get off your high horse because you just don't 'get' us!"
Warcry wrote:And honestly, when it comes right down to it...shouldn't we all be happy that there's one less thing in the world for people to get upset over?
Not if the only reason no one's upset about it is because of a multiplicity of blind eyes.
MV wrote:Americans never really referred to people with cerebral palsy as "spastics" ...
No, but the colloquial use of the word seems to come from an association of clumsiness with motor function disorders.
Maybe this will make things clearer: I think the US use of 'spastic' is perhaps akin to the way we use 'mental'. We're always saying things went 'mental', or someone is acting 'mental', to mean excitable or enraged, and the reason we use the word in that way, I would postulate, is because of the stereotype of mental patients as crazy people.
Now, I say 'mental' in that way every now and then. I probably also say 'spastic' sometimes. Heck, I say most words that I probably shouldn't say. But that doesn't mean it's not worth questioning why we use these words in the way we do and what prejudices are enforced by them. How much do we really have to forget before 'mental' and 'spastic' can take on their gentler meanings without any shadow of the things they used to refer to?