Comments on: Ableist Language in Social Justice Spaces: It’s Not Just About the Words Changing the Cultural Conversation Sat, 02 Nov 2013 14:42:53 +0000 hourly 1 By: David Hoffman Mon, 21 Oct 2013 22:37:13 +0000 I have also spent years struggling to address this issue with other leftists and progressives. It’s flabbergasting to hear people recycle the same rationalizations and evasions, about oppressive language patterns that we first had to endure around race, gender and sexual orientation. It’s not as though I’m immune or innocent. I’ve spent years examining the emotional and cultural roots beneath my own programming of fear, shame and revulsion against disability. People are so oblivious (NOTE: NOT “BLIND” or “STUPID”) but oblivious about why disability epithets carry the emotional and rhetorical force they do.

On a nonconscious level we mistakenly equate the intensity of rage and hostility which accompanies the spewing of disability epithets with strength, defiance and righteous indignation. We experience a false catharsis when we utter such words, which is partly a subconscious fantasy that we are “casting out” something evil.

But those are misconceptions which inaccurately cloak the real impulses which give such words their force. What actually gives them force is the fear and self/other – loathing that we’ve been programmed to attach to disability by our culture.

It will require a concerted campaign, enlisting respected opinion leaders from throughout the Left, to change this. It’s possible we can do that, but it’s also possible that we will always be enduring a massive, unremedied deluge of disability-stigmatizing attitudes and behavior, that remains unresolved no matter what we try. That’s no reason to give up. Just a reality we need to contemplate, to help us survive the pain of perhaps unending, repeated wounding.