I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but there was an instance a few days ago that really set me off
A document someone was working on was reviewed by some activists.
In this doc was something along the lines of: “We were blinded by [something] and failed to see the ramifications of it.”
Their comment was that this was an ableist statement since it could offend blind people.
It’s around this time I basically blew up.
– = –
So let’s take a step back.
Shit, you can’t take steps because you may set off folks who can’t walk.
Oh boy, the constipated are now feeling less than.
Boys?! Misogyny! Feminists left and right are duly pissed off.
Now I’m making the incontinent invisible. The dark clouds of this conversation are rolling in off the horizon.
Dark?! Why is everything dark bad?! Fuck you! Now POC are on my tail.
Fuck? The asexuals need you to stop god damn it.
God?! Now I’ve got to look at the faces of both the atheists as well as the God-fearing.
Faces? As someone who suffers from prosopagnosia, I’m deeply offended that I’m dismissed out of hand.
Hands? Some people don’t have hands — listen to them!
Great… now the deaf are on my case.
– = –
I’ll stop now with the absurdity; I think the point that anything said or written can be taken offense to if you try hard enough.
When you look at the origins of the concept of “ableist” you quickly get to the canonical example: “retarded.” When you call something you find less-than-ideal “retarded” you’re implicitly calling people who are mentally retarded just as “less-than.”
Side note: in interviews, I’ve read, people who are mentally retarded tend to prefer that term over others. This is an individual thing, of course, but since the majority prefer it when being used in the correct context, I’m using it here.
So, please try to not use that word in a way that inadvertently disparages. More broadly, try not to disparage groups like that.
But the problem with trying to find offense with everything is telling. It’s plain and simply trying to silence people and control the conversation. Of course, they are exempt when they say “talk less, listen more.” (Speech deficiency, deafness) They are controlling the conversation by forcibly suppressing the opposition and dictating what you are and are not allowed to say or even think.
Sounds a bit like fascism to me.
The point of language is communication. The point is not to simply not offend anyone. No matter what you say, someone is going to be offended. So what? They can speak up and make their point known. Of course, you can still ignore them after thinking about it. Just because you told me your opinion, no matter how loud you were in the process of that, doesn’t mean I have to kowtow to whatever demands you happen to make.