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>I’m going off the rails on an [ableist slur redacted] train. Also: Cat poll!

>

Well, discussions about my second Scott Adams piece over on Feministe (which was basically identical to my post here) have now been completely derailed by a number of commenters who’ve decided I’m “ableist” because I used the word … “idiot.”  That word, they have decided, is offensive to the “cognitively impaired.” If you want to wade into the mess, here’s the comment that, while polite in itself, started the long slide down this particular rabbit hole. You can see my responses in blue further down in the comments.
I consider this kind of language policing to the EXTREME! to be bad for feminism (and frankly insulting to people with disabilities), and I’m glad a number of others have stood up against it in the comments there.  I don’t think that the language police are in the majority at Feministe, much less in feminism at large. But these debates are so frustrating that many feminists who disagree with the language police end up biting their tongues and/or just walking away. At some point I may post more about this fraught topic here.
In the meantime, I’m am conducting a little poll about cats. Please click the appropriate button in the graphic above. Clicking it won’t actually do anything, but I’m pretty sure what the results are going to be anyway. Go kitties!
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makomk
11 years ago

>That's some nasty language policing, yeah. Especially because as David correctly pointed out, the dictionary definition is "showing complete lack of thought or common sense : foolish" and this is also both the common usage and the original meaning of the word. Sure, it was used in ways that were ablist some years ago, but so were all the other synonyms that could've been used instead, and for the exact same reason: ablism meant that society didn't really distinguish between acting in a way that lacked thought or common sense and having a mental disability until relatively recently. Which says a lot about ablism and justifies not using words like "idiot" to describe the cognitively impaired, but makes the language policing a bit much.This kind of language policing leaves us with no clear, short way to express the idea that someone's acting in a thoughtless manner. That's starting to get outright Orwellian.

Nahida
11 years ago

>I like cats. One of my friend's friends has a black cat with green eyes that was supposed to be mine, but I couldn't take him in. (The cat, not the friend.) He's grown up now and looks slick like a panther. He also doesn't shut up. It's awesome. I sneak him food when no one's looking.

DarkSideCat
11 years ago

>@makomk (and those that have expressed similar ideas), I do not use "crazy" or "retarded" and try my hardest to avoid intelligence/intellect based terms and manage to insult and namecall just fine. "This kind of language policing leaves us with no clear, short way to express the idea that someone's acting in a thoughtless manner. " How about "acting thoughtless" or using "thoughtless" as an adjective? We also have terms like "rude", "uncaring", "unthinking", "callous", "foolish", "silly", "absurd", "ridiculous", etc. My neice loved to call things "silly" when she was barely two. These words are not inacessible or too advanced, the problem is that we are raised in a culture where it is acceptable and habitual to use ablist (as well as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) language automatically and without consideration.@NWO "I'm sure you'll want to keep misogynist, woman hater, has a small dick, can't get laid, rape apologist, deadbeat(unemployed)dad, loser, white privilege, has mommy issues, man up, manchild, ect. ect. ect. in your arsenol of goodies." I do not use all of those terms (man up, man child, mommy issues, can't get laid, small dick), but those I do use I use with the specific intent and knowledge that I am using them with negative moral judgement. When I call someone a rape apologist, I am saying that I believe they are a literal rape apologist and that this is bad (the same with misogynist, woman hater, and white privilege). It is not a metaphor or an insult by association, it is a direct and literal statement of a negative behavior.

Sam
Sam
11 years ago

>@Darksidecat See, the trouble is, with the possible exception of callous, those are by and large some toothless insults. Part of what makes invective effective is that it IS by design hurtful, and much like a weapon, a particularly devastating word choice WILL have some collateral damage. By way of example, "Rude" is something your mom might tell you you're being at the dinner table eating with your elbows up; I doubt she would call you classless, trailer trash or human garbage. That is because these terms are much more loaded and, therefore, more judgemental. They're also WAY more classist. The point is, if you want to use language to be offensive, you will have to offend people.Of course, if you don't WANT to be offensive, well where's the fun in that?

Marissa
11 years ago

>Bee said:My idea about terminology (which is somewhat separate from my use of such–I try not to use possibly offensive terms in places I'm not sure about) is a kind of balancing test. What is the usefulness of the word? How likely is it to offend? I might be tempted to say, "Boehner is such a moron!" or "The war on uteri drives me crazy!" but, even if the likelihood that those terms will offend is pretty low, the words I've used aren't as accurate as they might be. What I really mean is: "Boehner is an evil asshole," and "I am enraged over the war on uteri." Much better on two counts.This this this, so much.

Captain Bathrobe
11 years ago

>nicko81m said… "privilege deniers" ROFL. Me as the average male, I don't feel one tiny winy little bit of privilege over women. Feminists are highly delusional laughable nitwits But but but male privilege and patriarchy is everywhere I tell ya. Even that there’s no logic explanation or real evidence, it’s everywhere because delusional feminazitards say soI think we can safely say that this post has removed all doubt as to whether nicko is a spambot. Seriously, nicko, would you like some dressing on that word-salad?

cboye
11 years ago

>Sam:I don't think in a good discussion you should be shooting to offend the OP or anyone else, but you should be shooting to express exactly how pissed you are, and that's why words like "rude" just aren't going to cut it. That suggests that you're moderately annoyed at the OP, when in fact you're completely pissed off.It's also worth pointing out that "foolish" and "silly" have both referred to mentally handicapped people in times past.-katz

Kave
11 years ago

>I don't worry much about offending people. I say what I say and frankly if someone is going to have a panic attack because of a word they read on the internet that is very much their problem, not mine or society in general. I've read through David's blog pretty much from start to finish, often the comments are as amusing as the posts themselves. This is the first time feminists have come out looking like idiots. It could be said that feminists can't leave the house or they would be rendered helpless from overhearing a word that upset them. Not the feminists I know, but on a blog dedicated to mocking the crazy in the mra it's interesting to have a post that really does point out the crazy in the feminists.(if that set upon you a panic attack… I recommend you seek medical attention)

triplanetary
11 years ago

>I don't worry much about offending people. I say what I say and frankly if someone is going to have a panic attack because of a word they read on the internet that is very much their problem, not mine or society in general.Ooh, a declaration of edginess and political incorrectness. That's not trite at all.Nobody's impressed, trust me.

Kave
11 years ago

>Why would I trust you Trip? I have no doubt not everyone would agree with me, but I also wouldn't have the audacity to say that no one would agree. What I will say is I will not censor myself because someone somewhere might be upset.

triplanetary
11 years ago

>What I will say is I will not censor myself because someone somewhere might be upset.A reasonable position. But when someone actually is upset and expresses that, I think it's a little inconsiderate to just brush them off. You can choose to do something about their offense or do nothing, but at least consider it. I just don't see the value in making a sweeping declaration that you're not going to worry about offending people.

triplanetary
11 years ago

>Oh, and to answer your other question (why you should trust me), because I'm sexy.

Pam
Pam
11 years ago

>It could be said that feminists can't leave the house or they would be rendered helpless from overhearing a word that upset them.Yes, Kave, and wasn't that one of the many tactics that have been employed over the centuries in an effort to keep women confined to a narrow sphere? Y'know, how women needed protection from the harsh realities of the outside world that would do undue harm to their delicate sensibilities. Let's call bullshit on that, and then set about to display how the harsh realities of the outside world do indeed harm our delicate sensibilities.

Pam
Pam
11 years ago

>But when someone actually is upset and expresses that, I think it's a little inconsiderate to just brush them off.Yes, that would be inconsiderate. But the world outside of the Feministe blog doesn't come complete with "Trigger Warnings" for everything that might trigger a panic attack or offend someone…. are feminists not equipped to handle that?

DarkSideCat
11 years ago

>@Sam, there remains profanity as well. Fuckwad, asshole, shitstain. Besides, have you stopped for a second to ask yourself why a word like "idiot" is considered so much harsher than a word like "silly"? The reason is precisely because it invokes that social hierarchy in associating a person with someone with intellectual disability, which is seen as a horrible and terrible thing. The same principle applies to invoking classism with use of terms like "trailer trash" or "classless". If you think that being associated with group X is terrible and horrible and so you use it as an insult, it is fair to say that you are, in fact, making a statement that you know is degrading and negative about group X.

triplanetary
11 years ago

>DSC's got a point there. "Shitstain" does get the point across rather effectively, and it doesn't marginalize any group of people.Of course, some may consider "shitstain" overly vulgar, but perhaps we should reflect on why our society is uncomfortable with a word like that but completely comfortable with words that marginalize and demean swaths of people.

Sam
Sam
11 years ago

>@Darksidecat Well if we agree, why are we arguing? We seem to have the same points, but are approaching them from differing language > people/ language < people perspectives.

Tit for Tat
11 years ago

>Context is usually everything. I remember years ago having a discussion with a female colleague and I referenced something about my "girlfriend". She stopped me and said, "You mean your ladyfriend". Pardon me? "Girl means prepubescent"."No, Girlfriend is a term of endearment". I think it pretty obvious when words are used to hurt. Do we really need language police, I think not.

kat
kat
11 years ago

>As a person with irritable bowel syndrome, I'm higly offended by your use of the term "shitstain".

Amnesia
11 years ago

>You know, so many of these disputes could just be resolved with the immortal words of Inigo Montoya:"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Johnny Pez
11 years ago

>Offtopically speaking . . .Inspired by David's and triplanetary's monumental fact check of the "Mean Feminist Manhate Quote List" (see sidebar under "Further Reading"), I have taken it upon myself to rearrange the quotes on the list in chronological order, to see if any patterns suggest themselves. Results can be found on my blog here.

jenny
11 years ago

>God, the language police. Has anyone used the term "idiot" in a clinical sense in the past two hundred years or so? Same with lame. No reasonable person would hear you referring to a television program as "lame" and think you're talking about a show that features lots of people with physical impairments. Language changes over time, and lots of the words we use have sexist, ableist, or otherwise sad histories. "Sucks" as a pejorative is pretty sexist, when you think about it, but most people don't use it that way. The language police and excessive trigger warning stuff is what keeps me away from Feministe and Shakesville, honestly. I don't like being regarded as someone who's going to collapse into a pile of sobs if I'm offended.

Sam
Sam
11 years ago

>I think a good benchmark for using "trigger warning" in a post is to ask yourself, "is this more or less upsetting than a spoiler alert?"

Captain Bathrobe
11 years ago

>This issue, like so many, is complicated. There are people who are genuinely offended by what they consider to be ableist language and/or contemptuous of those who use it. There is definitely a value to examining the words we use. It is naive, however, to suggest that the motivations of everyone who calls out other people's language are pure as the driven snow. There are very definitely those in the left/liberal/feminist movement who engage in oneupmanship (sorry, no gender neutral term came to mind) for its own sake. Often, these are people who are fairly privileged themselves and, feeling insecure about it, take it upon themselves to pile on anyone perceived as being more privileged any chance they get as a way of burnishing their street cred. Thus, we get the 200+ post pile-ons we saw on Feministe. It's a difficult issue, because, as a supposedly grass-roots movement dedicated to empowering the disempowered, we should probably err on the side of deferring to those who object to certain terms. On the other hand, this sort of thing easily gets out of hand, especially on the internet, to the point where meaningful discussion can be easily derailed. It would be really helpful if there were a universally accepted protocol for dealing with these issues as they come up–a kind of Robert's Rules of Order for internet discussions on the left. It would be nice if David could have simply invoked a rule that says: "I hear your concerns and I respectfully disagree; let's discuss this at another place/time"–and that would be the end of the issue on that particular thread. Others who wish to discuss the language issue would then be free to hash it out in a designated sub-thread, while everyone else could continue to discuss the original post in the original thread. I know this solution would be far from ideal, but it's a starting place. This sort of this has been an issue in leftist/feminist circles for a long, long time, and it has derailed many, many discussions and has driven many sincere people away from activism. If anyone has any ideas about this, I'd be happy to hear them.

Raoul
11 years ago

>@CAPT Bathrobe: "This sort of this has been an issue in leftist/feminist circles for a long, long time, and it has derailed many, many discussions and has driven many sincere people away from activism. If anyone has any ideas about this, I'd be happy to hear them."Uh…………….Did I mention I like cats? Honestly, asking how we might stop derailing discussions and driving sincere people away reminds me of that old joke that ends: "And God begins to cry."

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