Ableist language

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
Locked
User avatar
Fishnut
Snowbonk
Posts: 552
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 pm

Ableist language

Post by Fishnut » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:36 am

secret squirrel wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:08 am
Fishnut wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:04 am
Could we stop with the "idiots" usage please. It's ableist (and therefore against forum rule 3) and lazy. Just because you don't agree with someone doesn't make them an idiot.
I will not, and it is not.
"Idiot" is widely recognised as ableist. From Australia, to the US and here in the UK.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance's guide "Tackling disablist language based bullying in school: A Teacher’s Guide" has this comment from a year 6 student.
“Idiot is a rude word from years ago, when people with learning difficulties were locked away from everyone else. Everyone’s brains work differently. Don’t call anyone idiot.” Tomi

User avatar
Woodchopper
After Pie
Posts: 1767
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: Ableist language

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:12 pm

Post moved here from the Starmer - Long Bailey thread as this discussion appears to deserve its own space.

User avatar
Gentleman Jim
Catbabel
Posts: 617
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:38 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by Gentleman Jim » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:16 pm

If you have an unusual surname, which people have made jokes about all your life, is that "Nameist"?
Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.

User avatar
Woodchopper
After Pie
Posts: 1767
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: Ableist language

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:17 pm

Gentleman Jim wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:16 pm
If you have an unusual surname, which people have made jokes about all your life, is that "Nameist"?
I have no idea. But that seems to be a different topic.

User avatar
lpm
After Pie
Posts: 1619
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm
Location: IMPEACH AND EXTERMINATE

Re: Ableist language

Post by lpm » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:30 pm

What should we call idiots then, if it's naughty to call them idiots? Or are we to pretend idiots no longer exist?

Covidiots is such a good portmanteau word. Would be a shame to scrap it just because morons think it's ableist.
I'll miss him after he's died in the pandemic

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3454
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: nadir of brie

Re: Ableist language

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:38 pm

Speaking for only myself, I'm not sure 'idiot' is generally ableist - the medical usage of the word post-dates its use as a general insult and is now considered obsolete:
Noun

idiot (plural idiots)
  • (derogatory) A person of low general intelligence.
  • (derogatory) A person who makes stupid decisions; a fool.
  • (obsolete, medicine, psychology) A person of the lowest intellectual standing, a person who lacks the capacity to develop beyond the mental age of a normal four-year-old; a person with an IQ below 30.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/idiot

In context it was clearly being used in the second sense, criticising/insulting people for their decisions.

It would be another matter to call a particular group of lower-intelligence people idiots, of course.
Born at 356.32 ppm CO2 #ShowYourStripes

User avatar
Fishnut
Snowbonk
Posts: 552
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by Fishnut » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:39 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:30 pm
What should we call idiots then, if it's naughty to call them idiots? Or are we to pretend idiots no longer exist?

Covidiots is such a good portmanteau word. Would be a shame to scrap it just because morons think it's ableist.
'Moron' is also ableist. Both 'idiot' and 'moron' are words that have been used to describe people with intellectual disabilities. The people you are talking about are not intellectually disabled and even if they were using the terms are offensive. Alternatives, which have the benefit of being more accurate, include 'uninformed', 'reckless', 'impulsive' and 'ignorant'.

User avatar
lpm
After Pie
Posts: 1619
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm
Location: IMPEACH AND EXTERMINATE

Re: Ableist language

Post by lpm » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:46 pm

Your own link says:

Idiot
ORIGIN: The word dates from the 13th century and comes from the Latin word idiota, meaning ‘ignorant person’.

Moron(ic)
ORIGIN: Moron, Greek, meaning ‘foolish, dull, sluggish’

You argue we mustn't say idiot, which literally comes from 'ignorant person', and we should say 'ignorant person' instead.

This is stupid.
I'll miss him after he's died in the pandemic

User avatar
Fishnut
Snowbonk
Posts: 552
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by Fishnut » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:58 pm

lpm wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:46 pm
Your own link says:

Idiot
ORIGIN: The word dates from the 13th century and comes from the Latin word idiota, meaning ‘ignorant person’.

Moron(ic)
ORIGIN: Moron, Greek, meaning ‘foolish, dull, sluggish’

You argue we mustn't say idiot, which literally comes from 'ignorant person', and we should say 'ignorant person' instead.

This is stupid.
I am saying that disability rights organisations and activists around the English-speaking world recognise that 'idiot' and 'moron' and all the other words used to imply that people are lesser simply for lacking intellectual capacity are hurtful and insulting and can be replaced with words are not. If you can't see the benefit of that then fine. But I've seen my sister hurt again and again by people throwing these terms at her for cheap digs at something she can't do anything about. She's been hurt by ignorant people: not 'stupid' people, not 'morons'. People who should and can know better but chose not to.

Bewildered
Stargoon
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by Bewildered » Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:39 pm

I have never been sure about this so it’s a good thing to discuss, though I hope it doesn’t turn it to a complete mess as these threads have a tendency to do.

Sorry if this is a silly question, but I would like to understand the exact nature of people’s objections because I think there a couple of distinct positions that can be argued against these words. All of fishnuts alternatives imply something different from what I think idiot and moron mean. LPM found a definition which says otherwise, but I would say they are both moron and idiot are essentially synonyms of stupid, rather than ignorant. So is it just historical baggage of the other terms and that was kind of accidental, so stupid is ok assuming it doesn’t have the historical baggage as well ( I have a vague feeling it does, but can’t recall, so treat this as a hypothetical)? Which I guess would mean the distinction is insulting someone’s capacity to reason within the normal range is ok so long as you are not using a word that have been used to reference disabilities, ie belittle a specific vulnerable group?

Or is the problem wider than that because you feel that insults based on intelligence automatically imply negative things about people with those disabilities and their use will quite reasonably be upsetting to them?

in the latter case, given that you included ignorant in the alternatives, it seems I can infer that you think it’s right to insult someone for a lack of knowledge, but not ok to insult them for impaired reasoning or learning. I ask partly because regarding ignorant vs stupid, some people have intellectual impairments that affect their reasoning and ability to learn, while some people have impairments that affect their retention of knowledge. So is ignorant really so different and better than stupid?

Tbh (rightly or wrongly) I always felt the opposite, disliking the use of ignorant as an insult. I feel like we all only know a tiny fraction of all human knowledge (and all human knowledge is pretty piddling as well) and so we are all ignorant of many things, and even things we have known in the past we may forget. So if ignorance is really the complaint, instead of berating them for ignorance you could just try to rectify the problem and inform them. Yet it is repeatedly used when the problem seems to me to not be one of knowledge, but poor reasoning and I found that annoying just because I thought it was incorrect and (again perhaps wrongly) wanted them to use stupid instead.

User avatar
sTeamTraen
Catbabel
Posts: 749
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:24 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by sTeamTraen » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:03 pm

I seem to remember that on the BS forum there was a thread about this topic, although I don't remember many of the details except for an ironic suggestion that it might be OK to refer to someone as "totally Upminster" (a station on the District line that is "beyond Barking").

The thing is, almost everybody uses a little bit of hyperbole to express their anger and frustration from time to time. But most of the words or phrases that people will use to react to, say, a government policy that they believe is not in the country's best interests, or almost any tweet by Nadine Dorries, are likely to be ableist, in that the same term will surely at some point have been used in a derogatory fashion towards someone with an intellectual disability. Indeed, were a word or phrase that was free of such associations to be found (let's imagine it was agreed that henceforth calling someone "a complete Nadine Dorries(*)" was OK), the history of euphemistic language tells us that it would immediately be used in a derogatory fashion anyway (e.g., by schoolkids to mock the less able members of their class), at which point you'd have to start again.

ISTM that the difficulty is not with the language per se, but with the tendency (which I suspect most of us have to some degree or other) to assimilate behaviours that we disapprove of with those of someone who has an intellectual disability. I'm not sure that this is going to be easy to educate out of people. Certainly when a car pulls out from a side road in front of me when I'm on my bike, the first thing to come out of my mouth is likely to be some aspersion on the driver's logical reasoning capacity, and I can't promise that this is likely to improve very much. I'm not proud of that, but some habits are hard to unlearn. At least I can try to exercise more self-control when writing.

The forum's search feature might be an interesting place to start to find out how much one uses ableist terms. In my case it reveals that in just over 500 posts I have made zero mentions of "idiot" or "moron", but two of "stupid". One of those was directed at what I considered to be an ill-judged use of bleach in a public place and the other was directed at myself for making a basic error that led to a minor injury, but presumably that's no less severe, if the issue is the implication of comparisons with the intellectually disabled.


(*) Not an actual suggestion
Careering along in my creosote car

User avatar
Opti
Snowbonk
Posts: 476
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:21 pm
Location: Nearly got a proper home.

Re: Ableist language

Post by Opti » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:33 pm

I may well be castigated for this, but when I use the word "idiot" it is invariably prefaced with the word "f.cking". When someone has done something less than being a "f.cking c.nt" but more than "well that wasn't very clever".

When I were 'nobbut a lad there were epithets thrown around the playground referring not just to intellectual disability, but physical disability too. We have moved on. But some everyday expressions are going to be extremely hard to eradicate.
Or maybe I'm an idiot.
He cannot be killed by conventional weapons. True. He and Mrs Opti are wicked cool.

bmforre
Fuzzable
Posts: 303
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Ableist language

Post by bmforre » Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:49 pm

Tonight European time:
Co-founder of ReOpen Maryland says he has tested positive for coronavirus, won’t cooperate with contact tracing,

A Maryland man who organized rallies to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan to lift the state’s stay-home order says he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and does not plan to provide names of people with whom he had contact to public health officials for contact tracing.
At first
he had urged anyone who came in contact with him over the past two weeks to seek medical attention if they have symptoms. He said he expected to receive a call from county health officials for information about his contacts but added: “I will not share anybody’s information with the government. I will not do it.”
If I were to call this "obstinately endangering other people" would that be OK as not-ableist?

User avatar
Boustrophedon
Dorkwood
Posts: 1341
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:58 pm
Location: Lincolnshire Wolds

Re: Ableist language

Post by Boustrophedon » Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:56 am

Ah, the old euphemism treadmill.
Lets recycle a few old ones shall we? Nincompoop, Asshead, Clodpate, hebetudinous.
We're marchin' for freedom today ... hey!
Turn on your headlights and sound your horn
If people get in the way

User avatar
Boustrophedon
Dorkwood
Posts: 1341
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:58 pm
Location: Lincolnshire Wolds

Re: Ableist language

Post by Boustrophedon » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:39 am

To be clear, I am not one given to gratuitous insulting of people's abilities, but I feel quite free to insult their behaviour, as in: "That's a stupid argument."

Politicians and world leaders are fair game though.
We're marchin' for freedom today ... hey!
Turn on your headlights and sound your horn
If people get in the way

User avatar
discovolante
After Pie
Posts: 1657
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:10 pm

Re: Ableist language

Post by discovolante » Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:31 am

Locking this topic for now pending further discussion.
don't get any big ideas, they're not gonna happen

Locked