#thread on ableist language: I’ve seen a lot of Madison folks using ableist language to talk about the #pandemic protesters & I want to talk briefly about why this language is harmful on multiple levels to disabled ppl & to the cause of collective liberation. CW: ableist language
The most common thing I see is folks referring to protesters as crazy, insane, mental, nutjobs, etc. This language suggests all the protesters (yesterday 1.5k in Madison) have psychiatric disabilities & often imply that as a result they’re dangerous or not worth taking seriously.
This discursive approach is ableist bc it suggests that people with psych disabilities are inherently dangerous, dismissible, disposable, etc. It adds to the oppression of folks with psych disabilities, relies on this oppression to be effective.
As I discuss in my book, the language of able-mindedness or lack thereof has long been used to oppress Black ppl (& women & queer folks) via association with disability. Mental disability (real or projected) is used to justify violence & marginalization.
By adapting this tactic once used against us to now deploy against those we disagree with, we aren’t moving toward collective liberation, we are continuing to allow disability to be a justification for ignoring & dehumanizing others.
This is also reflected in the language of covidiot (idiot), stupid, backward, etc that I’ve also seen used in regard to protesters. This discursive approach again uses intellectual disability as justification for ignoring, dismissing or harming a person.
Now of course I disagree with the protesters & I believe they are doing a lot of harm but the language I use to talk about it isn’t rooted in ableism, in a belief that people with mental disabilities do not deserve to be included, listened to, respected, loved.
When I talk about the protesters I try to focus on my own emotions (fuck them, this is horrifying, etc) or the harm I see them doing. I don’t have to like them but I will not use ableism to dismiss them. There are plenty of other ways to be critical.
Call them dangerous (& name the danger), ridiculous, cruel, selfish, racist, sexist, xenophobic, uninformed/misinformed (which focuses on the information not intellect), but not crazy or dumb.
Let’s point out the flaws in their arguments & logic without suggesting that having flawed & harmful arguments & logic is the same as having a mental disability. Let’s not perpetuate one harm in the name of resisting another. We can do better, friends. Let’s do better.
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