Hi! Ra here, and although I'm still getting over the trauma of having my computer hacked (after only the first week of the Cant project, even), I'm going to skip over my bitterness and anger and hop into the column I had already written for this week. Perhaps I'll serve up some rich, succulent invective for next time!
So, I was observing that some people may worry about our (that is, us here at Cant, not the royal we. Though we are certainly entitled to use the royal we, oh yes we are) sacrificing of humor value to the fearsome gods of politcal correctness. And I felt that I should address this issue as soon as possible, to wipe away any lingering fear or doubt that you, gentle reader, may have about any potential hesitancy on our part to discourse on any topic that some may view as sensitive, emotionally charged, or even tasteless.
This column is about cripples.
Okay, perhaps not about cripples exactly. What I wanted to discuss, using the handicapped as an example, was the inherent stupidity in politically correct terminology. Sure, mocking politically correct language is basically shooting fish in a barrel, but hell, you haven't heard what I have to say about it, have you? No. I thought not.
I'm not going to rail about the move from the word "crippled" to the word "handicapped", and that's for one simple reason. I like the word "handicapped". It makes being crippled (and we here at Cant are not, at least not physically, so you are 100% correct in asserting that we don't have any fucking idea what it must be like, and if you feel that way please help yourself to a big, warm serving of righteousness, and go away) (where was I?) ah, yes - the use of the word "Handicapped" makes being crippled seem somehow, well, sporting.
"Yes, Carruthers, I may have lost the use of my arms, but, frankly, I needed to do that to make it fair on the rest of you."
"How very thoughtful of you, sir."
It strikes me as stemming from the sort of world view that I wish more people, including myself, had - the "big ass silver lining" world view. Sure, you can't see, but when Saint Peter is tallying up your score, he knows that you are only even near the rest of the population because of that handicap, and otherwise you'd pretty much have topped the charts.
"Physically Challenged", though, is just stupid. Sure, "crippled" has negative connotations, but that's because being crippled is bad. That's the whole point. Simply moving to a new term is not going to change the reality behind the vocabulary. I say that I am emotionally crippled from suffering through The Thin Red Line because I want to indicate that it was a bad thing. No matter what you call it, the reality behind the word(s) will bleed through.
I do volunteer work with elementary school children, under the aegis of the business school I am attending. (Points: +5 for helping kids, -75 for attending business school.) Recently, I observed several of them taunting another, and one of the terms they used was "special". Now, I figured it was sarcasm, but they went on to say that said tauntee would belong at the "special olympics".
At my elementary school, we called each other "retarded". (And note that that is itself a kind term ("behind") compared to its predecessors such as "Mongoloid".) Thus, basically, all that we are doing by shifting terms is changing the schoolyard argot. So, as far as being "physically challenged" goes, I say we stick with "handicapped".
Not to mention the fact that in the quest for new, more insipid terms, we (and that "we" means all of you idiots and not me) have also really gotten overly generic. "Physically challenged" could just as easily mean unable to reach the light to change the bulb. I myself am constantly "physically challenged" to get my hand out of the jar while still holding on to the cookie. And I always fail.
So, in summary, let's stop this linguistic retrenching. It's not the words that have the power - it's the reality they describe. Being crippled is bad. Being a cripple, however, in no way makes a person bad. Hell, crippled people are significantly better than I am - they even had to take a handicap.
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