24 votes

The harmful ableist language you unknowingly use

57 comments

  1. [17]
    Amarok
    Link
    I've been using 'derp' heavily in place of words like crazy or idiot or stupid and it fits far better than their suggestions. Rather than saying 'that guy's an idiot' I'll say 'the derp is strong...
    • Exemplary

    I've been using 'derp' heavily in place of words like crazy or idiot or stupid and it fits far better than their suggestions. Rather than saying 'that guy's an idiot' I'll say 'the derp is strong with that one.' I also love using 'closed mind' rather than 'deaf ears' as that at least more accurately describes the real problem I have when people aren't listening.

    I do wonder, however, how much the people who come up with these lists actually understand about language. Have you ever noticed that the shortest syllable words almost always win out over the ones with more syllables in casual conversation? At the same time, everyone wants to use the longer phrases when communicating in written style - perhaps to sound smart or pad their article length or tick the right search terms. Either way, the forces governing those two types of conversations are very different. I feel like on some level these problems are also about the evolution and use of language in the internet age. A pub is not a town hall is not a college symposium is not a scientific conference is not a battlefield is not an internet forum. Is it reasonable to expect the same standard of language to be used in all of those places?

    Let's say you've got someone from Deliverance-town Mississippi who is using all the wrong words. Is it simply not possible for people to accept that this person has their own disability - stemming from their upbringing, lack of education, racist parenting, backwards corner of society etc? Is it hard to accept that they simply don't know any better? Why is malice always assumed when so much of these language issues stem from upbringing and education? Are we being unfair to those people by demanding that they adhere to linguistic standards that are utterly out of context for them? Do we need to send everyone to remedial education before they are allowed to speak in public? How about the person who is 80? Are we going to demand neuroplasticity from people who haven't got any left and still literally use words from a bygone era?

    Let's say you even educate those people out of it. That education is going to go right out the window the instant they get genuinely worked up over something and their mental bandwidth gets cut down to 10% by emotions overriding conscious thought. The slip-ups and faux-pas aren't going away. Do we start shutting people down for having a strong feeling or one too many drinks at that point?

    This problem is a hell of a lot more complicated than 'assholes using asshole language to be mean'. I guess I resent the unspoken implication that all of this is somehow intentional, rather than just a mess. In fact it may not even be solvable - good luck getting the entirety of humanity to ever agree on anything approaching a common language, let alone common terms and meanings of words within the same language. English won because it beat up all the other languages and stole their terms for itself - and no matter how smart or well read you are, in your lifetime you will never see even half of the words present in that dictionary used anywhere.

    When was the last time you looked into a dictionary - and were you ever surprised to learn that you got a word partly or even completely wrong from hearing it used in context? There is no such thing as having every human being on the same page all the time. It can't be done with language. We'd need something like a shared collective memory or global consciousness to get that far.

    At what point do all of these nitpicks about language become unreasonable, or even detrimental?

    These are the questions floating through my head when I see articles like this. Making some effort to clean up your language is indeed laudable, but frankly, is anyone even going to bother if the standards are constantly evolving and impossible to meet? I know I'll see lists like this five years from now, and ten years from now - with different words and terms being demonized or suggested. In fact I fully expect all of these replacement terms being suggested now to end up demonized with their own replacements in the future, because this really isn't about the words we're using in the first place. The words themselves are mere placeholders.

    Where's my sense of a non-zero outcome for this mess? What course can be charted to resolve this issue?

    36 votes
    1. [8]
      kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Hey Amarok, The last time we talked about this you were very charitable with my comment. I'm going to have to ask you and everyone else reading for the same favor again, as I do think what I'm...
      • Exemplary

      Hey Amarok,

      The last time we talked about this you were very charitable with my comment. I'm going to have to ask you and everyone else reading for the same favor again, as I do think what I'm about to say might be hard to hear. I think it's my responsibility to communicate it as best as I can, but I also know tone is hard in text, so let me affirm, like I did last time, that everything I say comes from a place of fondness for you and your membership in our community. The last thing I want you to feel is put off or shot down. Hopefully I can say this right and achieve that.


      You've expressed something here that I think is deeply resonant for many people. It's common for conversations like this to make people feel like they're being put on the spot, critiqued, or belittled for something minor and inconsequential. It can feel like people are being made to be monsters, when they're very clearly not. You phrase it this way:

      I guess I resent the unspoken implication that all of this is somehow intentional, rather than just a mess.

      I think that is a genuine feeling, deeply felt by you and by many. I don't want to take that from you at all. But I do want to contextualize it a bit, because I think you've actually given us the key to bridge the divide this topic always seems to highlight.

      Let's look at the article for a moment. In talking about ableism in language, the article title uses "unknowingly". The article includes multiple phrases like "aren’t intending" and "no idea" and "unconscious" throughout. It specifically goes out of its way to highlight a lack of malice and intention.

      The easy snipe here would be to point out the difference between the article's explicitly stated purpose and theses and your feelings, and call the case closed. Your feelings are wrong because the article didn't say that is the language of that snipe.

      I am not here for that snipe. It is not valuable in the slightest. If I stop there, you and everyone else likely walks away pissed, nobody's gained anything, and the cycle of this conversation will simply continue on the next time ableism comes up on the site.

      Instead, I want to honor your feelings of frustration, because you specifically identify that there is an "unspoken implication" behind the idea that people might be causing harm intentionally. Plus, that feeling isn't just coming from this article but from your grappling with this topic at large. This piece doesn't exist in isolation for you -- this isn't the first time you've encountered these ideas. There is a history here for you with this topic.

      I said earlier that you highlighted the key to bridge the divide, and it's this: that frustration you're feeling is an empathy tool. It's the idea the unspoken implications of value regarding this topic are significant enough that they cause you genuine frustration and potentially impact your experience online or even your quality of life.

      That hopefully sounds familiar, because that's precisely what this article identifies. This article and this topic at large come from the voices of people for whom this topic produces genuine frustration. They're not saying it because they're being hypersensitive or because they're tilting at windmills or because they're trying to find problems where none exist or because they're trying to win woke points or whatever else. They're saying it because they are genuinely frustrated. It's a feeling that's as real and true and deeply felt as yours.

      Also, consider how they might feel similarly bothered when people dive in and shut down the conversation by saying your feelings are wrong because the person didn't say that. If we're allowed to be bothered by unspoken implications in language and cultural contexts, then I think it's fair that people with disabilities are also allowed to be bothered by unspoken implications in language and cultural contexts.

      We are encouraged to look at your frustrations and their frustrations in opposition. We are encouraged to think that there are sides here, and that one is right and the other is wrong. More than anything else, however, we are encouraged to think that I can overcome my own frustration by creating it for someone else, inelegantly expressed as: "this feeling sucks, so fuck them".

      The empathy tool I've talked about is changing that last statement to this: "this feeling sucks, so holy shit I now realize first-hand how much it sucks for them too".

      I've been open before about my interest in removing ableism from language. People often assume that comes from some sort of utopian brainwashing or censorious threat. That isn't true in the slightest. I try to avoid ableism in my language because I don't want people to feel that frustration. Why? Because I know how much it sucks to feel that way. When I want other people to not use those words it's not because I want to mandate how they talk -- it's because I want them to have that same sense -- to not want to be the source of someone else's shittiness.

      I also want people to understand and appreciate the weight and power that their words do have. The internet likes to trend towards linguistic nihilism, and I feel like I'm constantly rowing against the current, trying to convey to people that words can be rich and interesting and wonderful and powerful. I think most people intuitively believe this to be true but divorce themselves from it intellectually. I believe that what you wrote here you wrote because you believe in your words. I believe in them too, which is why I think it is so very valuable for us to be so thoughtful about what we say in the first place. Too often this sort of thing gets characterized as a sanitizing of language instead of an enrichment of it. I'm not limiting my self expression by avoiding those terms -- I'm improving it. That's not just because I'm potentially avoiding harm for others, but I've learned that by avoiding ableist language I often have to force myself to be more precise with my words. I often have to think about what I really mean to say, instead of the idiom my brain reflexively goes to. I often have to think of a more novel or interesting way to say something, rather than reaching for a hackneyed cliche.

      This is not always an easy thing to do, and you're right that there will be shifts. Some of today's language will be out of date soon, and that's okay. Like you said, this is messy, and it will continue to be messy, but I think even if the words change, the ideals that undergird them remain timeless to me. I will always think it is valuable to reduce the harm I do to others. I will always think it is valuable to show respect to and honor others' experiences, feelings, and interpretations. And I will always think it is valuable to try to do better than before, even if that better isn't perfect.

      22 votes
      1. [7]
        Amarok
        Link Parent
        That last exchange evolved my thinking on the topic considerably, but I'm not sure my overall conclusion has changed even now. I'll try to give you a sense of my mindset having thought about this...
        • Exemplary

        That last exchange evolved my thinking on the topic considerably, but I'm not sure my overall conclusion has changed even now. I'll try to give you a sense of my mindset having thought about this more than the last time. I think I have a better grasp of where this is coming from now.

        I'm an engineer at heart, so every problem is something to be solved, not managed. Managing problems is to me something that is only done when nobody can think of a proper solution - the lesser answer, a surrender rather than a victory, never ever good enough. That's why I tend to take an aggressive tact when looking at any problem - there is an answer in there somewhere, and I will find it, or I will find the precise point where it all breaks down into (ugh) something to be managed. I'll remember that lack of victory forever and come back to it if I think of a solution. That made me into a damn good sysadmin. I will worry a root cause analysis like a dog with an entire bison leg bone.

        I've also been called 'too rational' over the years by several people who don't even know each other - to my face, so take that for what it's worth. :P

        It seems like right now, we always snatch the worst interpretations of every person in every situation and run with those as the truth, and yet we all know that view is always wrong. There is never even a hint of forgiveness present, just two people demonizing each other. It becomes two groups playing humanity's favorite hard-wired unthinking game - tribes - rather than two people attempting to understand each other better.

        That game exists in our biology for one simple reason - to make it easier to kill one another guilt-free with glee over scarce resources. It's the game that really needs to go. There is exactly one, and only one, tribe - not humans, life. Anything else is handicapping one's thinking, at least in my view. I don't expect everyone else to see it that way, but it may help explain why some problems, like language itself, make me laugh and shake my head.

        That is what really ticks me off about this mess. We're not even allowed to exist as individuals outside of a group any longer - everyone will put us instantly into whatever groups serve their purpose or their prejudice despite these 'groups' being little more then figments of our imagination amplified by artifacts of language. These groups do not exist in physical reality. They are unreal, like the concept of a 'nothing' or imaginary numbers or borders on maps.

        It's all in our heads, and we didn't put it there - society did, and evolution before that, because when life is hard, tribes is a winning strategy. We'll be right back there the day after a meteor cracks one of our continents in half, too. On that day people will learn the true meaning of privilege, and I'll bet not one survivor will give a damn about words. They'll have more pressing matters to think about, and kicking someone out of their 'tribe' for a poor word choice will diminish them as much as losing a limb.

        I've been called plenty of hateful things in my day, and bullied. I've even accidentally found myself to be the bully from time to time, which was enlightening as to how the bullies I resented ended up in their situations feeling like they needed to take something out on me. Apologies solve those issues the instant they leave lips - well, not anymore, sadly. Now we want a pound of flesh and destitution for every faux-pas. We refuse to accept healing words and yet we readily fixate on the harmful ones.

        I'm at least half-convinced that this fixation on 'harmful' words is itself the problem. I choose to not allow words to bother me, and it's a learned, but ultimately easy, choice to make. Words elicit no feelings in me because I have decided to make it so, simple as that. I used to think that was called 'growing up' or 'getting over it' or 'moving on.' One can in fact opt out of this absurdity, in heart and in mind. Here's something I learned in psychology class: Only you can make you angry. That's the science here.

        All I had to do was stop projecting my expectations on to other people and take them as they are, rather than what I expect or want them to be. They aren't thinking about their word choice when they make it, so why should I be concerned with their word choice? They are trying to get an idea across, and that idea is more important than the vagaries of language. If that idea is racist for example, that's the time to become concerned - not the words, the idea itself. Some words certainly do have a proximity to bad ideas, but take the time to make sure you heard what you actually heard, rather than what you project.

        When I start a conversation with a stranger, there is quite literally nothing they can say to offend me. That would require a physical attack such as a punch to the face. I've heard it all before, and I'm not concerned with the words being used because I know the words are imperfect, fluid things. I may make some small judgements about that person based on their choice of words, but that's telling me more about where they grew up and what circles they hang around in and their current mood than it is about what's really going on inside their heads. Any choice of words is less informative or useful than a five minute conversation getting to know that person.

        We don't want to have those conversations. We don't want to talk, we want to complain about words as a way to avoid talking. We want to jam people into one box or another so we can stop thinking and use lazy generalizations, write them off and discount what they say or put them on a pedestal. In fact the same quote of a person speaking puts them on pedestals in some tribes and on the inquisitor's rack in other tribes. If you ever wanted proof of the absurdity of language, let that be it.

        Not one living human can claim to know what groups exist and what words will affect which groups in which way, yet we are magically to know all of that before we open our mouths to speak. This is, frankly, a double standard, and that's why political correctness is unpopular in some circles and historically fails as a movement. We've been here before a hundred times, we'll be here again. Really, there's a monty python sketch about this that rather brutally illustrates the absurdity.

        The best I can say is that PC at its finest moves a couple of words out of the lexicon - but at the cost of destroying many people's lives. Is the war actually worth it? How does one even calculate that? Then the language shifts, and new words become evil, and we do it all again. The bottom line is that some people are just assholes, and they will find a way to wound you to the core with any and every word - if they can't find one that gets the job done, they'll invent it.

        If one makes the choice to get past words, those people have no weapons. They are just assholes, rather than ten years of depression because of something they offhandedly said on the subway. The assholes still live here, they still get a vote, and one has to live with them, even as neighbors.

        Some people will use succinct and accurate language. Others couldn't even if they tried. One cannot expect everyone to adhere to a single standard. No human being has the right in any sense to demand that all other human beings adhere to their standards. No tribe of human beings has the right in any sense to demand that all other tribes follow their own tribe's rules. That's a simple fact. Anyone who has a problem with that is living wrong, and reality is going to depress them until they come to grips with the fact that the world is, in fact, not about them. Reminds me of one of my favorite poems.

        One can raise awareness of the issues and put better sense out into the world, but at the same time, that will generate angst and mockery among people with allergic reactions to the words being used to convey those ideas. That's about the best we can hope for - and that awareness will have to survive in a universe of memes that are more powerful than any dictionary has ever been, where words are used as weapons more often than a means of communicating ideas.

        In fact, in this new world, any idea no matter how reckless or absurd seems to have the superpower of summoning itself an instant army of humans to form its own tribe. At what point did we decide to sell ourselves out as mere mechanism for the reproduction and refinement of memes? People are literally dying for memes. You don't see that discussed on the news.

        I think the long slog will continue until we get past language. There is no 'closer' to the 'end', there is just the next chapter. Language tomorrow is the same as language today or yesterday, they only look different because our collective context is changing. The tool is not equal to the task, so we await a better tool.

        Odds are pretty good that any problems the new tool solves will be replaced by new problems we never saw coming. What if truly understanding each other beyond words makes things worse rather than better? Perhaps when Neuralink becomes reality we'll gain some insight into this problem space.

        One can't change other people, but one can change oneself. Patching up one's dicey vocabulary is a fine way to pass the time we usually spend clucking at memes on the subway ride and I commend anyone who has the level of self awareness necessary to even consider doing it. That said, it's not a solution. It is at least self-improvement, just like learning to let go of hateful people so they can no longer impact your own life.

        That one kinda got away from me a bit, but hopefully you can get a bit of insight into where my head is from it all. Another quip from psychology I found useful was, "You're not responsible for how you are, but you are responsible for changing it." I think a lot more progress can be made working on oneself than can ever be made trying to reprogram other people. They are simply out of anyone's control but their own, like all of us.

        I made that choice. Maybe that's why I have this irk - it's that simple, at least in my eyes. Make the choice to stop focusing on the words and opt out of it all. I don't have superpowers - if I can make that choice, anyone can. I say that as someone who has a few choice triggers from way back that don't trigger me at all now. That doesn't make up for crap that happened to me, but it does let me forget about it.

        16 votes
        1. [4]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          Now THIS is the good shit, Amarok. :) Remember when I said I value your presence here and that your words have power? This is a perfect example of what I was talking about! I'm thrilled that you...
          • Exemplary

          Now THIS is the good shit, Amarok. :)

          Remember when I said I value your presence here and that your words have power? This is a perfect example of what I was talking about! I'm thrilled that you took the time to write this out and share your perspective so clearly, and I'm excited to respond.

          I think we're more in alignment on a lot of this than you probably think. After reading your post for the first time (of several), I read this article which I think probably speaks to a lot of your frustrations about tribalism, which I also share. Like you, I'm exhausted and burnt out and frustrated by a lot of the shit that passes as discourse these days, especially because so much of it is so transparently "us vs. them" conflict and so much of it is spite-driven or a celebration of others' suffering.

          There's a lot of this I don't share online, for the reasons identified in that article, but maybe I need to start being more honest about some of that. I think even on the topic of ableist language there are things I disagree with, because I think a lot of people use it in a coercive, demeaning, or inflammatory way. I'm someone who believes in inclusive language as a paradigm, but it makes me angry when I see people using inclusive language as a proxy for exerting moral superiority or supremacy over someone else. It makes me mad when they use it as a cover for harassment or bullying. Social justice is something I believe in wholeheartedly, but it turns my stomach when people contort the ideals of social justice to justify their bad behavior.

          If I had to guess, that sort of thing is probably what you and many others who are fatigued by this topic are responding to. And I get it. I'm tired of much of it too.

          You also identified how arbitrary our tribes are -- how they're entirely unnecessary divisions.

          I, surprisingly, agree with this as well. I think when people talk about identity groups, some people see it as drawing hard lines and borders between different segments of society, and certainly there are some people that treat it this way.

          For me, however, I think there is a pre-existing border -- a line around which we draw the boundary for prototypical "humanity".

          For example, for a long time, being straight was inside the boundary. That was assumed to be the default, normal, natural, and desirable way to be human -- especially if you were male. Being gay was a deliberately excluded island, with borders drawn specifically to keep my kind out of common understandings of humanity. When I was acknowledged, it wasn't because I was offered space on the main map -- it was because I was a contrast to the main map itself. I was a cautionary tale or a warning or a morality play or a mistake, but I wasn't someone who people believed deserved to be inside the boundary.

          Things have changed though, and I'm now included -- happily on the mainland (by most). I feel that now I am generally understood to be part of natural human diversity rather than some strange or abhorrent abberation. People expanded that boundary and let me in, and I'm very happy to be here. This comes with lots of amazing and significant upsides (I'm not widely hated by everyone I know -- hooray!) and also lots of little, nearly inconsequential but still meaningful ones (people don't automatically assume I have a wife -- hooray!).

          Right now, I look out, and I see plenty of people still outside that boundary, and I think they deserve to be in here too, on the mainland with us. People with disabilities in particular are still relegated to their own space where we look at them and judge and see them as errors of life rather than as a part of life itself, worth living in their own right and not as mere contrast to our own. And I think one of the ways we see that is that when people with disabilities say "hey, this hurts me" the all too common response is "no it doesn't" or "well it shouldn't". The quickest way to show someone that they're standing on the other side of the boundary is to not let them have even their own self-disclosure.

          My view of inclusivity isn't one of drawing bright lines between groups but of acknowledging groups that have long been kept on the other side of the boundary and taking the necessary steps to bring them over to stand alongside us.

          Again, there definitely are people who do simply divide us for the purposes of in-fighting, and I would like to go on the record and say I fucking hate how much that sort of thing is encouraged by pretty much every modern media platform in existence. I think that is a niche position that gains outsize attention due to its ability to start conflict, but on Twitter it's practically all you'll ever see. Same for reddit, which has somehow become mostly screenshots of Twitter? The hell?

          Getting back to what you were saying, however, I do think your ideal regarding the arbitrariness of divisions is sound. I think it's important for us to understand that these divisions are arbitrary, and I think the absence of importance placed on them is something to work towards. I've talked before about how I look forward to a time where being gay is treated like left-handedness -- a difference, sure, but not something that's terribly noteworthy. Left-handed people are on the mainland. We don't exclude them or discriminate against them and we don't bury our heads in the sand and pretend they aren't different. We just know that some people are left-handed and that's fine.

          In order to get to that place though, a lot of progress has to be made, and I think that progress comes from identifying and organizing within that group. If we fast forward to the dissolution of gay people as an identity or group, we lose our power to combat the pre-existing prejudices of the world -- the things that keep us on the other side of the boundary. While I consider myself on the mainland in my current context, if I were to move back to my home state, you can bet I'd be back on the other side, looking in at people ready and willing to try to keep me out. The only way to get in on my own would be to leave behind everyone else like me ("I'm not one of those gays, I'm a safe gay!"), and that's not helping anyone, least of all myself. It's an achievable manipulation of the situation but, like you've been saying -- it's not a solution.

          I think your ideal is something to strive towards but it's not the mechanism by which we can get there, if that makes sense. I see identity solidarity as a lot like unionization. As a single, solitary gay, I'm pretty useless. When I team up with like-minded people, however, we have the ability to effect change.

          I also think this ties into our larger conversation, because I think you probably see something different in my advocacy than I'm intending (and that's my fault for not articulating it well).

          You identify that changing language isn't a solution to discrimination, and in that I wholeheartedly agree. I don't think if we get rid of ableist language we'll magically get rid of ableism. In fact, I think there's a reverse cause here: the predominance of ableism as a phenomenon is what makes the language worth considering in the first place. If disabled people didn't face widespread discrimination then it would be of little importance to examine our language in the first place, as it would have far less of an impact. Someone using ableist language would be an isolated asshole, rather than a reinforcement for much larger issues. It's the larger issues that are the problem, certainly, and some of my want to focus on language is that it's something I can actually control. I can't fix prejudice and discrimination at large! That's fucking HUGE! But hey, I can do this little thing and know that it'll actually matter. That's worth it, right?

          And, like I was talking about earlier, I think teaming up is important. I want people with disabilities to be able to say "hey, that guy stands with us! We've got him on our team!". I want to stand with them as a way of helping increase their power in effecting change.

          Based on what you've shared, it's clear your own resilience and development are central to this issue. That's something I definitely want to honor, because I think resilience often comes from intense personal difficulty and distress, as it's clear yours has. Also, like you, I think that resilience is a beneficial quality anyone can develop.

          I think that there's a self-defeating quality to the imposition of this, however, much in the same way you get frustrated with what you see as an imposition for inclusive language. This is basically what I first got at with my original response to your first comment way back when. It's the idea that if personal toughness and resilience is the solution to this social friction, then I have every right to impose that on you for the social friction you've identified. My response to your comment could read something like the following (this is me speaking as a Shitty Internet Person and not kfwyre, for the record):

          • You're bothered by having to change your language? It's just a word or two. Fucking suck it up.
          • There are millions of words in the English language and you're seriously making a big deal out of not being able to say 10 of the shittiest ones. Why does this matter so much to you?
          • Why should everyone else have to deal with your inability to think before you speak? That's on you.
          • You don't like having to change your words? Tough shit. Deal with it like the rest of us.

          Again, I don't actually believe these, but I feel like these are logical products of the "toughen up" argument that I commonly see in response to discussions on inclusive language. Either feelings on this topic are genuine and should be considered, or we're discarding them which also means we can ignore the feelings of people who are bothered by discussions about inclusivity in the first place.

          You talk about how, when the meteor hits, we'll learn a whole lot about privilege, and you're absolutely right there too. I'll admit that I'll be the first to go. Pacifist me can't even handle potentially being mean to someone on the internet -- you think I can even come close to doing what I need to in order to survive in a hostile environment like that? Not a chance.

          But I also think that highlights the importance of our society. We provide for things so we don't have to be at each others' throats, and we specialize so that not everyone has to be survival-focused. That's what lets people take their mind off keeping watch for predators and, instead, study microbiology and try to find cures for cancer or write cool books that other people like reading in the downtime they have because they're not out tending to the farm from sunup 'til sundown.

          I think a benchmark of a moral society is how it treats is weakest and most vulnerable populations, because a society fundamentally acknowledges that we are not limited to our basest impulses and that incredible things can happen when we are afforded the freedom and ability to pursue meaning rather than simply survival. We look at those who don't stand a shot at living outside of society (and to be clear, I'm talking about my queer hippie pacifist ass) and say to them "hey, no worries - we got you".

          And that's where I ultimately land on this. I think a lot of people are ready to say "fuck you" or, at the very least, "fuck off" whenever we have these conversations. I instead want people to see and feel the value in "we got you" as a response instead. It's universal. Support is something that's both beloved and needed by all. It's why I go so far out of my way to make it clear that I value you, Amarok, because I genuinely do. I got you. And I want you to see the value in doing the same for others. Not because I'll shame you if you don't (I won't), and not because I'm trying to win points with some crowd (I'm not), but because how fucking cool is it that we don't have to fight one another and instead can afford to choose support instead? Like you identified -- it shouldn't be that way, according to all sorts of forces out there.

          But it somehow, miraculously, is. And we make it that way.

          And that's fucking badass.

          13 votes
          1. Amarok
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Oh, snap. I'm putting Descartes before the horse, you're dead on point. I sailed right past that one grumping about the language. I'm in the 'right to do what you want with your body' camp - up to...
            • Exemplary

            In fact, I think there's a reverse cause here: the predominance of ableism as a phenomenon is what makes the language worth considering in the first place. If disabled people didn't face widespread discrimination then it would be of little importance to examine our language in the first place, as it would have far less of an impact.

            Oh, snap. I'm putting Descartes before the horse, you're dead on point. I sailed right past that one grumping about the language.

            I'm in the 'right to do what you want with your body' camp - up to and including assisted suicide, gender changes, biological augmentation - you do you, I'll do me. That's just as obvious as the color blue. That border you mention, the in vs out, has always bothered me, because I can't even begin to see the point of it. I'm impatient for it to simply go away, and I resent that it even existed in the first place. I also resent the outsized mindshare it occupies in every discussion, but suddenly that looks like an incoming cure rather than a symptom thanks to your insight. Good, let's get it over with. It'll bother me less now. <3

            You may have changed some of my furrowed brows when I see this stuff into something more like a shit eating grin. That's a pretty rare thing. I can see my non-zero outcome.

            10 votes
          2. [2]
            entangledamplitude
            Link Parent
            I wonder whether this strategy of targeting the symptom precludes the possibility of having much impact on the root cause. To paraphrase Goodhart’s law, what gets measured will get managed, but...

            the predominance of ableism as a phenomenon is what makes the language worth considering in the first place. If disabled people didn't face widespread discrimination then it would be of little importance to examine our language in the first place, as it would have far less of an impact.

            I wonder whether this strategy of targeting the symptom precludes the possibility of having much impact on the root cause. To paraphrase Goodhart’s law, what gets measured will get managed, but that could be very very different from actually moving the underlying factors in the desired direction. In fact, directly treating symptoms is very often counterproductive, because all that happens is that you’ve lost your old symptoms as a signal without solving the underlying problem. So you now come up with new symptoms... which you then attempt to manage directly, and the cycle continues, with very little to show for all the effort.

            10 votes
            1. kfwyre
              Link Parent
              Yeah, I agree that changing language isn’t going to solve the issue. I see it more a matter of courtesy than I do a meaningful lever for social change. I think it can play a role in that, but...

              Yeah, I agree that changing language isn’t going to solve the issue. I see it more a matter of courtesy than I do a meaningful lever for social change. I think it can play a role in that, but we’ll never get there through inclusive language alone.

              4 votes
        2. [2]
          Gaywallet
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I find myself struggling with your sentiment on this website with certain folks offline. There are a lot of individuals here which I believe highly value rationalism. I think it comes hand in hand...

          I find myself struggling with your sentiment on this website with certain folks offline. There are a lot of individuals here which I believe highly value rationalism. I think it comes hand in hand with science - the elevation of science in the past two centuries has rightfully shown that there are times in which removing the human is beneficial to understanding the world. This works exceptionally well when we are talking about concepts such as gravity - it's a force which exists whether humans do or not, and removing the human from the equation is perhaps the best way to ascribe a value to it.

          However, rationalism breaks down when we talk about human problems. The subreddit /r/thanksimcured is a perfect example of this. Of course the solution to being overweight is to stop eating and for depression is to stop being sad and for high anxiety the person should just chill out. Without pointing out why this isn't productive, I believe we can all understand why these solutions don't work and even when we identify a solution it doesn't mean that implementing the solution is as simple as just doing the thing. Solutions aren't universal because we don't all have the same tool set and even when we do share tools, your tools may be sharper or blunter or stronger or weaker or more refined than the tools that someone else has. In short, solutions are not universal - they are human specific. The solution for one person is not the solution for another.

          It's not just solutions that are not and cannot be universal, but problems too. What bothers you may not bother another. I think we all can identify with that statement and can easily understand it. But where I think everything tends to fall apart is the combination of problems and solutions. We have problems that affect some and not others and we have solutions that won't work for some but will for others - so how do we identify what's important and what's not?

          You can't. You read that right, you cannot identify what is important and what's not. When I say you, I'm referring to you, the person reading this comment right now. Alone, this is an impossible task. You see, what's problematic to you is not what's problematic to everyone else. And what will work for you also will not work for everyone else. Logic cannot solve this paradox. Luckily, however, it doesn't have to. Human diversity caused this problem, but thankfully it is also the solution! In the same way that you've chosen a different career than I have, our diversity allows for us all to simultaneously attack different problems with different levels of engagement and enthusiasm. This wonderful little quirk is part of the reason why I love human diversity so much! I will never produce art as beautiful as the artists I follow and I will never be as technically competent as some of the wonderful users on this website but I also don't have to feel bad about the fact that I won't because someone is also looking at me in awe of what I've accomplished and celebrating it or at least benefitting from what it brings to the table.

          In the same way that I don't make judgements on others for pursuing arts or tech or literature or teaching, I strive not to make judgements on others for what they consider are important problems. In fact, I would argue that I often rely on them to do so. I need environmental scientists whom I trust telling me that we are destroying the world and really putting it into terms that I can fully grasp. Their passion for this problem is how I learn how this is important to other humans. In this case, it happens to be important to me too, because I don't want to see the suffering it is bound to bring to this planet. However, this is a situation in which the problem affects all humans. It also happens to affect certain humans more - some because they live in climate zones more vulnerable to climate change and others because they value this problem more than other humans. However, there are also many humans who have decided that this is not a problem worthy of their time.

          I think this is okay and I think more people need to be okay with this. When enough people care about something, they will be naturally drawn to it. They will give up their resources (time, money, etc.) to create a solution to the problem. We celebrate when they solve problems we had in the past, and this is good. But we should not waste time trying to ascribe an absolute value to whether this is good or not expressly for the purpose of making a judgement on how another person spends their time except when the other person is actively harming others with the problem they are attempting to solve (such as bigotry based violence). We shouldn't do this for the same reason that I don't judge you for going into tech or arts and I don't judge you for choosing to spend your time on problems that may be invisible to me.

          I take solace knowing that you're working on problems I cannot see or may not feel are important to me. I look to you to explain to me what these problems are in terms I can understand, and I hope for your forgiveness when I cannot see how these problems affect me or are important. The same follows for solutions - I also may not understand why your solution solves the problem (especially if it's not a problem to me) or ascribe the same values to cost and outcome as you do. What I'm asking from you is to do the same for this author. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that you were able to change yourself for the better and that this language doesn't pierce your thick hide. I wish I could say the same for myself, but my tools aren't as good as yours and it's painful when it feels like you are implying that I should be able to build the beautiful armor you've constructed for yourself. Looking at my tools I can't help but feel inadequate, upset that mine were not made with the same care and built with the same quality as yours. I can't seem to find the way to opt-out like you have and I'm struggling to help others understand that its painful when I'm judged as in if it was my choice.

          You see, I didn't choose to be born how I was and I didn't get to choose where I grew up or what language I spoke or the cultural norms I was surrounded with. I'm merely left to navigate the waters of my existence with other humans who have their own problems and I'd rather do it alongside them than in opposition. If we are to work together I think it's better to focus on what we all do best and let everyone work on the problems they want to and present the solutions they find. When another human speaks up to tell you about a problem they experience or a solution they have found, I want everyone's first reaction to be to listen and to learn. What I'm seeing on this website, however, is not listening and learning - I'm seeing value judgements. People are coming into this thread and sharing that they don't think this problem is worth their time or that the solution is asking too much. It's absolutely okay and normal to feel this way, in fact, it's a necessary part of human diversity. But it's equally upsetting to hear you tell a person which is deeply affected by this problem that it isn't a problem or that their solution is unnecessary or that you won't implement it without sharing why it might be difficult for you to do so. This kind of speech invalidates their experience and it's a judgement for what they spend their time on. I'd like to see us move on from making these kinds of judgements on the experiences of others, just like we have moved on from making judgements about what kind of a job or career someone goes into (or finds themselves in).

          8 votes
          1. Amarok
            Link Parent
            I agree with all of this, much as it might surprise you. What works for one of us does not work for all of us. There are people whose circumstances are impossible for anyone to fathom who hasn't...

            I agree with all of this, much as it might surprise you. What works for one of us does not work for all of us. There are people whose circumstances are impossible for anyone to fathom who hasn't gone through the same thing. I'm also not dismissing these problems. I've made an effort to improve my own lexicon and you'll note I still just used the word 'handicapped' without even realizing it until rereading my last post. I'll leave that in just to illustrate that its presence is hardly any kind of intentional slight or dig on anyone. It's just the word that fell out while I was focused on other ideas.

            Of course the solution to being overweight is to stop eating and for depression is to stop being sad and for high anxiety the person should just chill out.

            Actually, what worked for me wasn't any of that - it was hanging around with other people and not just talking to them, but actually listening. My armor took some real work to build, but it can be built, and I think that goes for anyone. Friends, co-workers, family, others to commiserate with is a critical part of a healthy mind. There was a time I wouldn't set foot in a pub or ever even approach strangers. Now I'm the guy talking everyone up at the bar and being cheerful on the street corner with strangers. It's just plain practice in social situations. I had to do it until it becomes natural.

            I had plenty of nerves while getting started too, more than a few times I'd pop outside for some air just to get less people in my space and five minutes to think my own thoughts. That's part of why I picked up smoking, in fact. I'm no stranger to panic attacks. It's never easy, but it's important to make the effort, and that effort will pay off eventually, even though it feels like a Sisyphean task in the beginning.

            I just don't expect these problems with language to ever be solved. Everyone seems to think there's a finish line out there somewhere, and I have a very hard time seeing it.

            9 votes
    2. [2]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      You've put in the words an undescribable feeling that I have every time this discussion comes up. Because in my core I feel like it's a good thing to talk about, and yet I feel like it simply goes...

      These are the questions floating through my head when I see articles like this. Making some effort to clean up your language is indeed laudable, but frankly, is anyone even going to bother if the standards are constantly evolving and impossible to meet? I know I'll see lists like this five years from now, and ten years from now - with different words and terms being demonized or suggested. In fact I fully expect all of these replacement terms being suggested now to end up demonized with their own replacements in the future, because this really isn't about the words we're using in the first place. The words themselves are mere placeholders.

      You've put in the words an undescribable feeling that I have every time this discussion comes up. Because in my core I feel like it's a good thing to talk about, and yet I feel like it simply goes too far. It's utopian to think that a group of humans larger than some specific number n (I'm sure some smart person calculated it) is going to ever agree 100% on a single thing. It's just impossible because while people are social animals, we are not a hive mind.

      The last time we discussed this topic I did add my 2 cents to the discussion and it seemed that my opinion echoed well with a lot of people. But it is obviously an extremely heated discussion, and it's difficult to say what's right because there are plenty of people on the other side of the equation who either scream about micro-agressions or say that they don't care. I don't know what's right anymore and I can't be bothered to talk about it, especially because I'm a very foul-mouthed person, and I'm still part of a group of friends who are all pretty diverse (oh gods, I am using the black friend defense, am I not?) and we happily insult each other. It's all pretty tangetial, but honestly why should I care if the words are gonna change next semester anyway, when all the great thinkers start thinking at university again, and ultimately, if the people who it might insult and I interact with on a daily basis, don't care either?

      15 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Your question about your friends is a very valuable one, as it highlights something I often think is lost in this discussion: audience. When you are talking with your friends, you have a LOT of...

        Your question about your friends is a very valuable one, as it highlights something I often think is lost in this discussion: audience.

        When you are talking with your friends, you have a LOT of knowledge about the audience your words are finding: you know who they are, you know your relationships with them, you know how they're likely to respond, etc. There's a whole history of direct interactions there, as well as the smoothing over of social frictions that friendship and fondness bring to the table.

        When you are talking in other contexts, however, you don't have that same level of information. Online, you don't even know the size of your audience! Your comment here might have been read by 8, 80, or 800 people. You don't have intimate knowledge of those people, nor do they have intimate knowledge of you. As such, I think erring on the side of caution goes a long way in contexts like that, because the potential for harm or friction is much greater.

        I think the internet often gives us a false intimacy where we forget that we are communicating via a broadcast medium. Choosing to change our messaging in response to that isn't capitulating to censorship -- it's making our communication smarter and more effective.

        7 votes
    3. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I'm gonna toss this out there for any unaware the history of the term: The first known use of derp was courtesy of Matt/Trey Parker, in the intro to Basketball and later various points of...

      I've been using 'derp' heavily in place of words like crazy or idiot or stupid and it fits far better than their suggestions.

      I'm gonna toss this out there for any unaware the history of the term: The first known use of derp was courtesy of Matt/Trey Parker, in the intro to Basketball and later various points of Southpark. While not precisely using "derp," here's an episode that had aired shortly before becoming widely popular via memes from 4chan's /b/: Cartman joining special olympics.

      That term is just as loaded as any on the list. I've certainly witnessed people straight-up mocking mentally handicapped to their face using it. And that's part of the reason that I personally find the ableist language crusade a bit of a futile one, but I'm not gonna dig my heels in any further on that.

      14 votes
      1. [2]
        Parliament
        Link Parent
        It doesn’t fit in all contexts, but I’ve been using “wild” or “ridiculous” instead of dumb/stupid/crazy/insane. “Derp” is too juvenile for me. Just my $0.02.

        It doesn’t fit in all contexts, but I’ve been using “wild” or “ridiculous” instead of dumb/stupid/crazy/insane. “Derp” is too juvenile for me. Just my $0.02.

        8 votes
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          That's interesting. I picked it precisely because it is so juvenile, and I usually use it in response to childish behavior which seems all too common in adults for my comfort.

          That's interesting. I picked it precisely because it is so juvenile, and I usually use it in response to childish behavior which seems all too common in adults for my comfort.

          3 votes
      2. Amarok
        Link Parent
        I imagine that if I used the word 'nuts' that someone would be offended on behalf of all cashews. :/

        I imagine that if I used the word 'nuts' that someone would be offended on behalf of all cashews. :/

        7 votes
    4. eladnarra
      Link Parent
      I don't really have the energy to reply to the majority of your post, but I'd like to point out that none of these things — especially racism — are disabilities or caused by disabilities. If...

      Let's say you've got someone from Deliverance-town Mississippi who is using all the wrong words. Is it simply not possible for people to accept that this person has their own disability - stemming from their upbringing, lack of education, racist parenting, backwards corner of society etc?

      I don't really have the energy to reply to the majority of your post, but I'd like to point out that none of these things — especially racism — are disabilities or caused by disabilities. If someone doesn't know that a word hurts other people, that doesn't make them evil or malicious for using it (nor does it make them disabled). But if someone then tells them "this hurts me and many people like me," and they continue to use the word with no attempt to stop, then yeah — barring any actual disability that makes it hard for them to remember or change their language consistently — that's not good, and worthy of judgement.

      9 votes
    5. Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      Why must we deal in absolutes? I think it's okay to acknowledge some of what you've brought up, such as the fact that we should not expect someone from rural Mississippi to be fully educated,...

      Why must we deal in absolutes? I think it's okay to acknowledge some of what you've brought up, such as the fact that we should not expect someone from rural Mississippi to be fully educated, while still simultaneously acknowledging that a desirable state would be to accommodate minorities for which this language can feel oppressive. It's okay to acknowledge that we should do better without a perfect plan of action which will ultimately solve this once and for all. The point of this article is to educate because the author isn't omniscient and doesn't know how to solve all the gray areas and problems you outline.

      At the end of the day I can't, nor do I want to control how you interact with the world. I can't tell you that the time you spend absorbing articles like this serves an ultimate good. I can, however, share these articles in the hopes that it speaks to you emotionally enough to at the very least reconsider your own lexicon and how you might accommodate others by modifying it. This isn't a zero sum game, and I think the article from the late 1800s linked is a perfect example of why it's important to think about this because the author takes offense at people trying to redefine 'Deaf and Dumb' to just 'Deaf' (If you didn't click through to it, here it is linked again) - in retrospect it's easy to see why we needed these conversations and I hope, as you mentioned, in five, ten, fifty, or a hundred years from now we'll look back at this and wonder why people thought it was okay to use the terms we do today and we'll be at a much better linguistic state... but we can't get there if we don't keep pushing and just because we might demonize a replacement in the future doesn't mean we will always do so or that the replacement isn't just less worse rather than ideal. It's a long slog to get to a point where our language is succinct and accurate but also accommodating and not exclusionary or oppressive, but I think it's an ultimate good we can and should proceed towards.

      7 votes
  2. [3]
    meme
    Link
    The fundamental thesis of this article is very Sapir-Whorf-y, aka "linguistic determinism", which in its strongest form has been entirely discredited and in it's milder form is still hotly...

    The fundamental thesis of this article is very Sapir-Whorf-y, aka "linguistic determinism", which in its strongest form has been entirely discredited and in it's milder form is still hotly debated. The central thesis is that if a word's origin is related to discrimination against a group of disabled people, then the usage of that word is creating an environment which is hostile to those disabled people by subtly influencing our thoughts.

    This argument is built on sand in my eyes. Very few people are aware of "dumb"'s origin as a diagnosis. Words like "stupid", "moron", and "imbecile" are similarly obscure to the average english speaker. How can we possibly be subconsciously influenced if the vast majority of people are not even aware of these origins?

    The word "gay" means happy, yet when I was growing up that did not stop it from becoming a disparaging term, used to deride both things that seemed LGBT, or things that the speaker merely didn't like. (Gonna miss soccer practice because you have detention? Ugh, that's gay, sorry bro). Its origin as meaning "happy", theoretically, should have made it subconsciously influence people to associate gayness with happiness. This clearly did not happen. Gay people pushed for acceptance, and only then did the colloquial usage of "gay" follow, becoming positive again.

    There is also a bent of argument that if one was truly empathetic, compassionate, and concerned about disabled people's needs, they would come around to the idea that we must excise "ableist language" from English. It's a gentler form of "If you do not agree with me, I have superior morality".

    I've touched on this before, but I am not a fully able-minded person, and I experience discrimination, shame, and guilt because of that. On a base level, we view a human being's value as being intrinsically tied towards their usefulness in productive labor and their conformity to social norms. That is why I face difficulties and stigma from my mental illness, because we assign morality towards ones ability to do work. Probably the most common accusation lobbied at a person with my type of depression is that we are "lazy". Would banning the word "lazy" cause people to have a sea-change in attitude towards the mentally ill? No. Would banning the word "lazy" create a social and legal system which does not punish depressed people for being less productive or functional? No.

    The treatment of disabled people is an issue that has deep meaning to me, and for mental illness, personal meaning. I'm very much in agreement that disabled people are othered, discriminated against, and overlooked, and a compassionate society would seek to put an end to that. So I'm united with the author in wanting the same outcome, but strongly disagree that making more words taboo would ever get us there.

    24 votes
    1. [2]
      onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      Thank you for bringing a linguistically informed perspective. I think lots of people have extremely uninformed opinions about natural language, and I’ve noticed that identity politics gravitates...

      Thank you for bringing a linguistically informed perspective. I think lots of people have extremely uninformed opinions about natural language, and I’ve noticed that identity politics gravitates toward “bad linguistics” whenever linguists are absent.

      You mentioned the term gay, which is fascinating to me as during my lifetime in speech communities I’m directly a part of or have observed, it has gone through veritable semantic gymnastics! From the original sense of being a synonym of happy, to a slur, and now I think in some speech communities to meaning homosexual with an exaltative connotation, it has certainly undergone significant diachronic change. To appropriately interpret the term gay demands careful consideration of social, sexual, and linguistic context.

      I think word choice is something that people focus on because it is something that no one can argue isn’t under the control of the utterer/writer, precluding tic disorders and associated coprolalia. Coprolalia is actually an interesting case where we do not take offense nor attribute intention to utterers of profanities, obscenities, racial slurs, etc. (Or at least we don’t if we are not ignorant of the disorder that is the underlying cause of the phenomenon.)

      We’re not all etymologists nor lexicographers, so we can’t always identify the precise sense distinctions of the words we choose. We choose words because they help us to express our thoughts, but there is no 1:1 mapping of thoughts to lexemes, and lexical ambiguity introduces further complication. Beyond dialectal variation in lexical ambiguity, we also have the fractal nature of individual idiolects. We have to pick from the sparse palette of the subset of the lexicon that we are familiar with, and then attempt to paint meaningful forms through syntactic composition. But our lexicons are a product of our culture—even if each token we utter is a personal choice, it is part of the language that we’ve inherited.

      I have no qualms with consciously attempting to curate one’s own idiolect. However, I am a staunch opponent of language policing, which I see is rampant within identity politics. Even if well-intentioned, I strongly agree with you that language policing is not a solution to any problem. I think it is incumbent on good faith interlocutors to adhere to the principles of charity, humanity, and overall the cooperative principle. Just as much as word choice is a choice of the speaker, flouting of these principles and assuming the most pessimistic interpretations one can imagine is a choice of the listener.

      14 votes
      1. meme
        Link Parent
        hah, I will say you're much more linguistically informed than me! I was an art student so all my humanities knowledge comes from stuff I read for fun, and most of what I know about linguistics was...

        hah, I will say you're much more linguistically informed than me! I was an art student so all my humanities knowledge comes from stuff I read for fun, and most of what I know about linguistics was learned when I was trying to understand post-structuralism and post-modernism in philosophy.

        "gay" has special meaning for me too, because I was that kid in middle school calling stuff "gay" just because I didn't like it, or calling things "gay" if I associated those things with the Liberal Plague Known as Homosexuality. I've been an out and proud lesbian for a few years and it's now a term I apply with love to myself and my community.

        There's some degree of language policing I will agree to - like, the f slur for gay men is not a thing I should be using or trying to reclaim. I have removed "retarded" from my common speech as it became a taboo thing to say in polite company. Because once a word was already made taboo, a deliberate choice to use it is the speaker's signal that they do not care for politeness and social norms. (Or even a signal the speaker gets active enjoyment from making other people uncomfortable).

        But all this is a reminder to me that if a certain portion of disabled people are asking to make more words taboo, that probably speaks to unmet needs in regards to how respected and included they feel. I could certainly be doing better at advocating for the large-scale changes that would improve disabled people's lives, whether it's handicap access, universal healthcare, and de-stigmatization of intellectual and mental health disabilities.

        13 votes
  3. [4]
    nothis
    Link
    I've been wondering why this has been passing by for so long. I've been trying to avoid words like "crazy" in recent years. But I must admit, I can't find a good replacement for "acting...

    I've been wondering why this has been passing by for so long. I've been trying to avoid words like "crazy" in recent years. But I must admit, I can't find a good replacement for "acting excessively unreasonable". And then there's stuff like "stupid" or "dumb", which I simply do not think refers to a mental disability, except perhaps in a historic context. There's got to be a word for "acting below your abilities and making mistakes, out of laziness".

    I looked at their list of synonyms and while some are easy and obvious, others leave a hole in language that will need to be filled in casual conversation. "Uninformed" simply isn't the same as "idiotic". We need insults for people acting dangerously out of line. I'm afraid the only real distinction is intentional vs unintentional and whatever word we invent might swap over.

    Still, this is all very easy to commit to and absolutely worth it.

    16 votes
    1. [3]
      TheRtRevKaiser
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Something that is surprising to me about this is how many terms that are intended to be PC/euphemistic are included in this list. I'm not that surprised about something like "handicapable", which...

      Something that is surprising to me about this is how many terms that are intended to be PC/euphemistic are included in this list. I'm not that surprised about something like "handicapable", which has always seemed pretty condescending, but "differently able" was a surprise to me. I've never used it because it seemed silly when something like "disabled person" requires less linguistic contortionism but I always thought terms like that were preferred by some. I guess that shows how little homework I've done in this area.

      I was also surprised by "fat" being preferred to "obese". I would have assumed the opposite, fat seems very much the derisive term whereas obese is an actual clinical term. I say that as a person who is, at least by medical definitions, a bit of a fatass.

      Edit: I'm also quite surprised by the inclusion of "phobic" used in the context of "homophobic" or "Islamophobic" being included here as an ableist term. Gonna have to think about that one.

      15 votes
      1. kfwyre
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        An important thing to remember is that people with disabilities are not a monolith. There is also disagreement about terminology between people with disabilities! Plus, some of the terms have...

        I've never used it because it seemed silly when something like "disabled person" requires less linguistic contortionism but I always thought terms like that were preferred by some.

        An important thing to remember is that people with disabilities are not a monolith. There is also disagreement about terminology between people with disabilities!

        Plus, some of the terms have cultural/communal aspects that play out at a local level and aren't always universifiable. I worked in a setting where "differently abled" was the preferred terminology and was widely affirmed, but if I were to use it in my current work setting it would be seen as patronizing. These differences can make it hard to identify any one universal best practice. I've used "people first" language for a long time now to the point that it's nearly fully natural for me, but there are some people that resent "people first" language. I always try to accommodate for individual preference, but when I'm commenting to a wide audience on the internet, it's hard to know what the best fit is. That said, I still think making the effort is worth it, even if I'm not perfect at it.

        Also, as for "-phobic", I also never thought of it as ableist (though I can definitely see it now that it's been pointed out). I'm honestly fine with ditching that as a cultural construction though. As a gay guy I've never liked "homophobic" as a term because I feel like it misattributes to fear what is better ascribed to hatred, malice, or even at times passive discrimination. I've known many people who were not fearful of gays in the slightest but were wildly "homophobic" in their views. I've used "anti-gay" as a stand-in for a long time and feel it does a better job of conveying what it's supposed to.

        8 votes
      2. WendigoTulpa
        Link Parent
        I think with fat there's no indication how fat they are, but obese is extremely fat.

        I think with fat there's no indication how fat they are, but obese is extremely fat.

        3 votes
  4. [5]
    ImmobileVoyager
    Link
    As a certified cripple, I find the word "ableist" to be a highly toxic neologism.

    As a certified cripple, I find the word "ableist" to be a highly toxic neologism.

    15 votes
    1. [4]
      an_angry_tiger
      Link Parent
      I would be very interested in hearing you expand your thoughts on it.

      I would be very interested in hearing you expand your thoughts on it.

      9 votes
      1. joplin
        Link Parent
        Me as well. My spouse developed a chronic condition about 10 years ago and has deeply felt some of the problems in this article, and she finds the word ableist very useful and helpful as it helps...

        Me as well. My spouse developed a chronic condition about 10 years ago and has deeply felt some of the problems in this article, and she finds the word ableist very useful and helpful as it helps convey the problem in a way that someone doing it can understand why it's problematic.

        10 votes
      2. [2]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        And also good replacements. My immediate guess for one would be anti-disabled or disablility-phobic/misic if you like to separate fear and hate.

        And also good replacements. My immediate guess for one would be anti-disabled or disablility-phobic/misic if you like to separate fear and hate.

        3 votes
        1. eladnarra
          Link Parent
          Some folks use "disableist" or "disablist" I think. But personally I like ableism just fine. Whatever the word, it's helpful to be able to describe things that are discriminatory or disparaging to...

          Some folks use "disableist" or "disablist" I think. But personally I like ableism just fine. Whatever the word, it's helpful to be able to describe things that are discriminatory or disparaging to disabled folks.

          4 votes
  5. Cycloneblaze
    Link
    Good article. I found it an easy read and I appreciated the lack of any accusatory tone. This part was a good illustration of the point: I hope that we can find other ways to colour our language...

    Good article. I found it an easy read and I appreciated the lack of any accusatory tone. This part was a good illustration of the point:

    “Beauty standards are a good comparison, in terms of language’s psychological power,” she says. “As a parent, if I say, ‘wow, that’s beautiful’ or ‘that’s ugly’, my children see that and internalise it… This can have a profound impact, particularly if they examine themselves and feel like they don’t match the standard… The same goes for ability.”

    I hope that we can find other ways to colour our language without unintentionally colouring other people along the way.

    11 votes
  6. [6]
    streblo
    Link
    While I agree that langauge is powerful and that in a perfect world this wouldn't be the case, unlike other -ist language there isn't a recent history of malice behind these terms so I just don't...

    While I agree that langauge is powerful and that in a perfect world this wouldn't be the case, unlike other -ist language there isn't a recent history of malice behind these terms so I just don't see this gaining any traction in the general public. All this hand-wringing does in my opinion is drive anti-woke engagement and polarization while pushing people away from affiliating with other popular left-leaning causes.

    10 votes
    1. [5]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      I think the whole point is that while it's not a direct kind of malice, it causes people to internalize malice whether they wish to or not, because it's a signal from the society that they are...

      I think the whole point is that while it's not a direct kind of malice, it causes people to internalize malice whether they wish to or not, because it's a signal from the society that they are less than rather than just different. I'm a bit confused, however, about why you think this is hand-wringing - do these individuals not have the right to help educate others as to how it makes them feel?

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        streblo
        Link Parent
        For something like autism that's true but if you were born with only one arm or no vision unfortunately you are less-abled than the average person. Of course that doesn't imply lesser value but...

        because it's a signal from the society that they are less than rather than just different

        For something like autism that's true but if you were born with only one arm or no vision unfortunately you are less-abled than the average person. Of course that doesn't imply lesser value but the phrase "falls on deaf ears" does not have a value statement about deaf people-- just deaf ears.

        do these individuals not have the right to help educate others as to how it makes them feel?

        Of course. I have no problem with people sharing how they personally feel. Hand wringing is the wrong word but in general I think discussing these articles is unproductive -- in today's political climate you generate as many or more people in vehement opposition as you do support and between economic inequality, systemic racism, etc. etc. there is less and less political oxygen to support something that is seemingly quite contrived in comparison.

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          Why are you drawing the line where you are? Can I not make the same argument about someone who is terrible at math or who struggles to empathize with others - at what point does it stop being...

          For something like autism that's true but if you were born with only one arm or no vision unfortunately you are less-abled than the average person.

          Why are you drawing the line where you are? Can I not make the same argument about someone who is terrible at math or who struggles to empathize with others - at what point does it stop being human diversity and at what point does it become a value judgement on the person?

          Of course that doesn't imply lesser value but the phrase "falls on deaf ears" does not have a value statement about deaf people-- just deaf ears.

          I'm confused... this very article points out precisely how falling on deaf ears does have an intrinsic value statement - one that is projected by society and internalized by people who live within it and one which is most likely to both affect and be consciously noticeable among people who are othered by it.

          I think discussing these articles is unproductive

          I think perhaps we are both approaching this article in different ways? For me this was educational and helped me to understand how other people felt. It was a call to action of which I wish to incorporate to at least some extent in my pursuit to always be a better person.

          I think there is good discussion to be had interacting with other individuals and how they internalize language or how they are affected by day to day language.

          I don't think there's a lot to be discussed in whether or not this is an absolute good or whether people should change their behavior - I think that's a moral and ethical consideration that only the reader can make for themselves on account of the narrative presented by the author and the moral calculus of whether they feel it's enough to change their own behavior. In general I am not interested in discussions of moral calculus because they seemingly always devolve into people attacking each other.

          7 votes
          1. streblo
            Link Parent
            Not being good at math or struggling to empathize with others (lol) is a complex product of genes/upbringing/culture/exposure/history/etc. It's pretty easy to draw lines where they exist. They...

            Why are you drawing the line where you are?

            Not being good at math or struggling to empathize with others (lol) is a complex product of genes/upbringing/culture/exposure/history/etc. It's pretty easy to draw lines where they exist.

            I'm confused... this very article points out precisely how falling on deaf ears does have an intrinsic value statement - one that is projected by society and internalized by people who live within it and one which is most likely to both affect and be consciously noticeable among people who are othered by it.

            They offered their opinion which I disagree with:

            However, for disabled people like me, these common words can be micro-assaults. For instance, “falling on deaf ears” provides evidence that most people associate deafness with wilful ignorance (even if they consciously may not).

            I'm not sure what evidence it is they are alluding to here -- willful ignorance as a metaphor to sound on deaf ears says nothing intrinsic about deaf people. The author may view this as a "micro assault" but to me that's a them problem rather than an us problem.

            I think perhaps we are both approaching this article in different ways? For me this was educational and helped me to understand how other people felt. It was a call to action of which I wish to incorporate to at least some extent in my pursuit to always be a better person.

            To me this is a call to action that in the broader context of social politics is the exact reason left-leaning politics in Western society haven't made far more progress than they ought to have. Trying to police the word "dumb" when it hasn't been used in an ableist context in a hundred years is, quite frankly, dumb.

            10 votes
          2. post_below
            Link Parent
            Isn't it more reasonable to assume that whatever value judgements society makes about deaf people, and deaf people about themselves, are because of perspectives about deafness itself rather than...

            this very article points out precisely how falling on deaf ears does have an intrinsic value statement - one that is projected by society and internalized by people who live within it and one which is most likely to both affect and be consciously noticeable among people who are othered by it.

            Isn't it more reasonable to assume that whatever value judgements society makes about deaf people, and deaf people about themselves, are because of perspectives about deafness itself rather than arising from vocabulary?

            You might be able to nudge the needle through vocabulary awareness, but you'll never meanfully move it that way.

            5 votes
  7. [6]
    Gaywallet
    Link
    While I believe this article is a fantastic piece on how we can all do a better job with language, I believe they could have spent more time focused on internalization. When we say something falls...

    While I believe this article is a fantastic piece on how we can all do a better job with language, I believe they could have spent more time focused on internalization. When we say something falls on 'deaf ears' as the article highlights, we are making a judgement on people who are deaf. Even if the intent is simply to say that they are ignoring and we don't make the direct connection to actual deaf people and treating it as a negative, we're causing everyone to internalize these values. We're not countering it with positive language towards deaf people and while this may not seem like much, imagine how it might feel if your very life were defined by a word always treated negatively? How do you think it would effect your self-esteem? Your sense of self worth? Whether or not you had anxiety speaking up because you thought others wouldn't listen?

    I think a negative internalization of societal values through the medium of language can have a strong affect on people's mental health and it's in all of our best interests to work on adapting language to be better.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      petrichor
      Link Parent
      I'm a little bit confused by this, because aren't disabilities always negative, by definition? That judgement on people who are deaf is fair and true, despite it being sucky - disabilities are a...

      I'm a little bit confused by this, because aren't disabilities always negative, by definition? That judgement on people who are deaf is fair and true, despite it being sucky - disabilities are a lack of some ability, and our use of language isn't going to change that.

      It seems to me that effort spent sanitizing descriptive language would be better purposed emphasizing and talking about the unique aspects that having a disability can bring - like strengthened perception of other senses, or wheelchair sports, or the kindness of people with Williams syndrome (they're just about the only group of people to not have unconscious racial biases). Many disabilities have some unique upside - but I never to rarely hear about them. Maybe that's a personal issue, and I'm not looking in the right places...

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        eladnarra
        Link Parent
        Told myself I wouldn't comment on this article, but here I am. :D Because you mentioned deafness in particular, I wanted to mention there are a lot of d/Deaf people (especially those connected to...
        • Exemplary

        Told myself I wouldn't comment on this article, but here I am. :D

        Because you mentioned deafness in particular, I wanted to mention there are a lot of d/Deaf people (especially those connected to Deaf culture) who don't consider it bad at all. It's a part of who they are, and many folks are proud of it (and their culture and language). So yeah, having people use a part of who they are to mean "bad" isn't great.

        More broadly, I don't think abled folks realize how much a disability can be a part of someone. Disabilities affect our lives in myriad ways; they often form the basis of community, and they impact how we interact with and perceive the world. Yes, there are bad parts — but there are bad parts to any type of diversity. White people deal with increased skin cancer risk*, short people deal with much of the designed world not fitting them properly, people with periods can get bad cramps. But we don't say equate race, height, or gender/sex with being evil or ignorant or bad... At least we don't as long as we're not racist, sexist, etc.

        And on your second point, I think a lot of disabled people would actually prefer not focusing on unique upsides. It's a little hard to explain, but that type of thinking can be harmful in several ways. Firstly, it runs into the issue of the "super crip" — abled people often praise disabled people who do amazing things against all odds, which kind of throws the rest of us who are average people under the bus. "If so and so can play sports in a wheelchair, why can't you manage a trip out to the shops?"

        Secondly, not all of us have a specific upside to our disability, and this type of framing ignores the real issues all disabled people can face. (This might seem like a contradiction; I don't want people to associate disability with bad things, but I don't want people to ignore the challenges in my life. But hopefully you can see the distinction. An overly positive view of disability means loss of accomodations and blame when we can't do something. And "disability=bad" and "disability=special abilities" both erase who I am as a person and how I experience being disabled.)

        Finally, it's kinda just... A bit patronizing? Definitely not all disabled people will feel this way, but I just... I don't want people to only think positively about disabled people because they're happy, or they do a cool thing, or they've learned a unique skill in order to navigate the world. We shouldn't have to always have a positive outward appearance for people to stop using our lives as metaphors for "thing bad."


        *I specifically used white people here because there's an easy trap to fall into when discussing disability — comparing things to how Black folks experience racism in the US. There's definitely some overlap in certain areas, but in making comparisons like that, disabled POC who experience both ableism and racism often get left out of the conversation. Disabled Is Not a Bad Word. It’s Also Definitely Not the N-word

        22 votes
        1. Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          I'm glad you decided to comment on this post because you did a fantastic job outlining why this is problematic - a much better job than I would have been able to. If someone who read your post is...

          I'm glad you decided to comment on this post because you did a fantastic job outlining why this is problematic - a much better job than I would have been able to.

          If someone who read your post is having trouble empathizing or doesn't understand the value of what has been posted yet - they may have thoughts such as "this doesn't seem like such a big deal" or "well that sounds good but I don't want to modify my language", I stumbled upon this twitter thread during the semi-recent Dr. Seuss cancelling from someone with a truly unique upbringing in which their parents went to great lengths to orchestrate. I cannot possibly summarize it in a way that would accurately reflect the authors intent, but I assure you it will have you thinking twice about the downstream effects of not only language, but how people can be othered by language and how it affects us.

          12 votes
      2. Cycloneblaze
        Link Parent
        This was addressed a little in the article: Someone who is deaf, for example, is obviously limited in relation to a hearing person, but they won't be comparing themselves to a hearing person. They...

        That judgement on people who are deaf is fair and true, despite it being sucky - disabilities are a lack of some ability,

        This was addressed a little in the article:

        First, these words give an inaccurate picture of what being disabled actually means. “To describe someone as ‘crippled by’ something is to say that they are 'limited' [or] 'trapped', perhaps,” says Hale. “But those aren't how I experience my being.”

        Someone who is deaf, for example, is obviously limited in relation to a hearing person, but they won't be comparing themselves to a hearing person. They may not consider themselves to be limited at all if being deaf is all they know - for them it's just the way things are (I presume).

        Unless, that is, they are reminded by a hearing person's careless use of language. They can sure be made to feel like they are limited in their abilities, but it doesn't feel like that would be awfully useful to them.

        7 votes
      3. psi
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        These aren't mutually exclusive endeavors, though. In fact, I'm not sure that it makes sense to think of the latter as a replacement for the former. It would be awkward, from a conversational...

        It seems to me that effort spent sanitizing descriptive language would be better purposed emphasizing and talking about the unique aspects that having a disability can bring

        These aren't mutually exclusive endeavors, though. In fact, I'm not sure that it makes sense to think of the latter as a replacement for the former. It would be awkward, from a conversational standpoint, if someone used an off-kilter phrase like "fell on deaf ears" then interrupted themselves to talk about the unique challenges but also upsides to deafness. It's better to try to avoid such phrases altogether.

        But, to be more blunt, I also don't think the principle you're espousing holds more generally. To give an example that you'd no doubt find problematic, if you reformulated the principle with respect to race, it would be a bit like saying "Rather than try to eliminate racist language from our vernacular, we should try to acknowledge the advantages of particular races." Yikes!

        7 votes
  8. [5]
    Tardigrade
    (edited )
    Link
    Not the direct point of the article but the statistic they included at the end shocked me. 2/3 of British people feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people! That's sad. Edit: phrasing

    Not the direct point of the article but the statistic they included at the end shocked me. 2/3 of British people feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people! That's horrifying sad.

    Edit: phrasing

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      petrichor
      Link Parent
      I dunno, I guess I'd probably lump myself in with that. If I'm meeting someone who's say, blind, for the first time, I definitely unconsciously try to self-censor to not talk about something they...

      I dunno, I guess I'd probably lump myself in with that. If I'm meeting someone who's say, blind, for the first time, I definitely unconsciously try to self-censor to not talk about something they can't experience, and feel uncomfortable as a result of that. I also don't know immediately whether to avoid talking about their disability altogether (and risk seeming like I'm minimizing their disability) or ask them questions about it if they come up in conversation (because it's an interesting and fairly unique part of their life) - but that's less of a problem, more so the former.

      13 votes
      1. Tardigrade
        Link Parent
        I guess I'd forgotten that side of things having not spoken to many people at all over the last year. I wonder if like me people would forget that side of things when asked the question and the...

        I guess I'd forgotten that side of things having not spoken to many people at all over the last year. I wonder if like me people would forget that side of things when asked the question and the 2/3 should be higher?

        4 votes
    2. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      In general if I’m talking with someone and communication is difficult I’m very uncomfortable. I get uncomfortable when face masks get in the way of transactional speech. Sometimes I’ve spoken with...

      In general if I’m talking with someone and communication is difficult I’m very uncomfortable. I get uncomfortable when face masks get in the way of transactional speech. Sometimes I’ve spoken with a disabled person and it’s very difficult to either convey or understand speech. Obviously there are many disabilities that don’t affect my ability to communicate, so those aren’t an issue here.

      I’m not big on nonverbal communication. I’m not big on implicit social understandings. So if I can’t easily talk with someone I would rather not interact with them.

      9 votes
      1. Tardigrade
        Link Parent
        Yeah I completely get that. It's extra friction in what is desired to be a smooth thing.

        Yeah I completely get that. It's extra friction in what is desired to be a smooth thing.

        4 votes
  9. [9]
    elcuello
    Link
    God dammit! You people with your sympathy and empathy. Stop making me think! Stop making me question unintended consequences of my vocabulary. Stop enlightening me with other people experiences...

    God dammit! You people with your sympathy and empathy. Stop making me think! Stop making me question unintended consequences of my vocabulary. Stop enlightening me with other people experiences that I could easily better if I just put an effort to it. It's really difficult!

    8 votes
    1. [8]
      Amarok
      Link Parent
      I do have another perspective on this problem, and you reminded me of it. Let's say we're all collecting $75k a year for simply existing. You don't have to get out of bed to receive it. What would...

      I do have another perspective on this problem, and you reminded me of it.

      Let's say we're all collecting $75k a year for simply existing. You don't have to get out of bed to receive it.

      What would that do to all of this anger and miscommunication?

      What would your lifestyle look like? How would you spend it?

      How many neighbors do you have that would stop being troublesome if they had it?

      Would the hateful become less hateful?

      Sometimes I wonder if we have a hangover from capitalism to deal with, and perhaps the lack of financial equality is a major driving force in our inability to get along. Usually when a bully rolls up on you, and speaks the words you will remember for the rest of your life (as if you were struck when hearing them), it's not really about you. It's about the fact that his dad or brother beats him up twice a week, or some other problem he can't handle. I know this because I've had this conversation with the person who used to bully me, many years after it happened in high school. We were at the same local college, and he was a different person once he got out of that mess. His dad was the kind of guy who was so cross-wired he couldn't hold down a job.

      9 votes
      1. vord
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        One hotly contested phenomenon is the relationships between poverty, crime, and happiness. It shouldn't be, because most counter-arguments certainly feel like "tobacco companies paying for...

        Sometimes I wonder if we have a hangover from capitalism to deal with, and perhaps the lack of financial equality is a major driving force in our inability to get along

        One hotly contested phenomenon is the relationships between poverty, crime, and happiness. It shouldn't be, because most counter-arguments certainly feel like "tobacco companies paying for research to find benefits of smoking in order to justify implementing and keeping bad policy".

        Reasoning from first principles would tell you that poverty is the root cause. It's hard to be happy if you can't afford to eat or have leisure time. Happy people wouldn't risk their happy lives to become criminals, but it's probably worth robbing a liquor store if you have nothing left to lose and everything to gain. There's more ways to dice that, but I think that's sufficient. There's a virtuous cycle at play by reducing poverty, as it reduces crime and unhappiness. That crime reduction than further reduces unhappiness and poverty, because (in USA at least) criminals are often pushed deeper into poverty, and crime makes everyone unhappy. I also recall that this has generally been confirmed by mountains of real-world data, but that's beyond the scope of this post.

        The followup relationship between poverty, education, and wages flows much the same way. Eliminating poverty by increasing wages and safety nets creates that virtuous cycle as well. Higher wages equates to more tax income, resulting in more funding for safety nets and education. Increasing funding for education means higher wages for teachers, better education for students, and higher wages. Wealthier families have more time and resources to help their children. Trying the reverse, using education to resolve poverty, doesn't create that same virtuous cycle because many/most jobs with low wages (particularly in impoverished areas) still need done, but don't need an education.

        Best ways to increase wages? Full unionization, decoupling social safety nets from employers, mandatory sick and vacation time, shorter workweeks, and increasing minimum wages. Well, that and seizing the means of production, but that gets a little too socialist for most.

        13 votes
      2. [6]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        If this were the case I would expect wealthy people or pensioners to be kinder, gentler, more tolerant, etc. but in practice we observe the opposite. In fact, it is those most heavily advantaged...

        Sometimes I wonder if we have a hangover from capitalism to deal with, and perhaps the lack of financial equality is a major driving force in our inability to get along.

        If this were the case I would expect wealthy people or pensioners to be kinder, gentler, more tolerant, etc. but in practice we observe the opposite. In fact, it is those most heavily advantaged by inequality who tend to be least empathetic or compassionate.

        We would also expect words to be less hurtful to wealthy minority groups compared to poorer ones, but again I don't think that's borne out.

        Social status doesn't necessarily have much to do with wealth. Part of what makes capitalism what it is comes from the fact that wealth and status do become so intertwined, but if the wealth wasn't the main thing something else would be and people would still bully each other to jockey for status.

        There is a correlation between inequality and some of what you're talking about in the literature, but the intermediate variable there tends to be something we call "social trust" or "cohesion." What inequality does is raises the stakes of every status interaction so it makes everyone most conscious of their position and more jealous about guarding it within the context of whatever space they're in. And this doesn't even necessarily need to manifest as material wealth. Even something as petty as status within your community or status in terms of made-up internet points can count. When people are wired to be acquisitive and jockey for rank they're going to find whatever frameworks they can to jockey for rank. In Evangelical communities, for instance, that jockeying takes the form of being performatively pious. In activist spaces it can take the form of being performatively 'woke.'

        7 votes
        1. [5]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          This is a jump in logic. Privilege in practice can and does isolate. Rich people move to rich neighborhoods and go to rich schools and run in rich circles. They reduce diversity in their lives by...
          • Exemplary

          If this were the case I would expect wealthy people or pensioners to be kinder, gentler, more tolerant, etc. but in practice we observe the opposite. In fact, it is those most heavily advantaged by inequality who tend to be least empathetic or compassionate.

          This is a jump in logic. Privilege in practice can and does isolate. Rich people move to rich neighborhoods and go to rich schools and run in rich circles. They reduce diversity in their lives by insulating into a mostly homogeneous culture.

          Now there is an argument to be made about the direct influence of money on tolerance as some early studies in the field of behavioral economics have attempted to do - they had participants imagine they were rich and asked them questions or had them make judgements with money they were given or given authority over, but these are flawed because they work on our internal modeling of how people should act and do act in practice - a reflection of our internalization about society. In addition, these studies work on imagination and decisions in a lab, and do not necessarily reflect how someone would act in society or their real life.

          However, we can look at studies in which people who are in poverty are given money and lifted out of poverty (UBI experiments and what-not) and in general we do find the quality of life and happiness of life go up. So whether this makes people more tolerant or more likely to be charitable to others is somewhat up in the air (I have yet to see a UBI experiment where this specific outcome is measured), but I would say it's still a plausible theory based on what we know about how people act in response to stress and struggling to make ends meet is absolutely a stressor.

          6 votes
          1. [4]
            NaraVara
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            This isn't universal enough to hold across the board. Incomes do tend to be higher in urban areas and urban areas are naturally much more diverse, both economically and culturally. There's a large...

            Rich people move to rich neighborhoods and go to rich schools and run in rich circles. They reduce diversity in their lives by insulating into a mostly homogeneous culture.

            This isn't universal enough to hold across the board. Incomes do tend to be higher in urban areas and urban areas are naturally much more diverse, both economically and culturally. There's a large swathe of people who are objectively rich but living in big cities where they're still riding transit and living across the hallway from people qualifying for affordable housing. I haven't seen anything to suggest the pattern doesn't hold across contexts.

            It doesn't even need to be rich people either. I specifically mentioned pensioners for a reason. They're not necessarily rich, but working class people used to retire with pensions and not be in any kind of financial precarity after retirement. In fact, the most ardent supporters of discriminatory policies have tended to be middle or upper-middle class. Moreover, in many contexts poverty can also isolate through discrimination, ghettoization, and lack of resources to relocate.

            In regards to study methodologies, there have been many studies and methodologies to study it. There have been things based on generic survey responses that controlled for income and educational attainment, comparative studies across countries that do things like compare survey responses against GINI coefficients (a measure of income inequality), and even stuff where they literally give people varying amounts of money under different conditions (like a random gift versus a prize they 'win') and watch how they react to a homeless person on the street later. (IIRC in that last case they found that people who had the cash framed as a "gift" were more generous but the ones who "won" the cash in a game that was rigged in their favor were less so.)

            So whether this makes people more tolerant or more likely to be charitable to others is somewhat up in the air (I have yet to see a UBI experiment where this specific outcome is measured), but I would say it's still a plausible theory based on what we know about how people act in response to stress and struggling to make ends meet is absolutely a stressor.

            I don't now if I'd have any confidence in that conclusion. Even pure anecdata from traveling through the developing world would indicate that people living in pretty extreme poverty can still be remarkably generous, despite living in subsistence conditions. In fact some of the literature about immigrant communities has suggested part of the challenges with capital accumulation people have is that they can't hold onto money because family/friends will oblige them to share the wealth if they ever get a windfall. So no individual can get the critical mass of money to actually move up the ladder unless an intervention uplifts the community as a whole. That definitely suggests that, for these communities (I believe this specific study was Polish immigrants in Chicago), the community bonds necessary to make ends meet in poverty socialized them into a sort of generosity that they wouldn't have gotten if they weren't struggling.

            5 votes
            1. Gaywallet
              Link Parent
              Don't have too much to contribute here as I feel like we're getting a bit off topic on the fascinating behavioral economics of wealth, but I did want to touch on your final idea I think this is...

              Don't have too much to contribute here as I feel like we're getting a bit off topic on the fascinating behavioral economics of wealth, but I did want to touch on your final idea

              That definitely suggests that, for these communities (I believe this specific study was Polish immigrants in Chicago), the community bonds necessary to make ends meet in poverty socialized them into a sort of generosity that they wouldn't have gotten if they weren't struggling.

              I think this is absolutely a fair conclusion as well. Realistically I believe it's incredibly complicated to try and deduce all the different factors that go into making someone generous and likely these factors matter at differing amplitudes depending on the person, but social structures and norms go a very long way for most humans as we are social animals and are probably the most important part of determining someone's generosity when reviewed at a population level (as I mentioned with rich people isolating themselves).

              3 votes
            2. [2]
              vord
              Link Parent
              FWIW, in my experience many of those higher income jobs largely result in that income being exported to cul-de-sac suburbs and gated communities, which are generally not diverse, especially not...

              Incomes do tend to be higher in urban areas and urban areas are naturally much more diverse, both economically and culturally.

              FWIW, in my experience many of those higher income jobs largely result in that income being exported to cul-de-sac suburbs and gated communities, which are generally not diverse, especially not economically.

              I've tried taking people to good restraunts and been declined because "it's in a dangerous neighboorhood." Which usually is synonomous with "impoverished black neighboorhood," but people don't like being reminded of that.

              3 votes
              1. NaraVara
                Link Parent
                I mean, someone is buying these $700k+ condos and houses in downtown cities.

                I mean, someone is buying these $700k+ condos and houses in downtown cities.

                1 vote
  10. Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    I had a few questions about 'ableist language' and I feel this convo I had with @Gaywallet to answer tham might be useful, since he's basically the one here arguing for all of this. (I assume...

    I had a few questions about 'ableist language' and I feel this convo I had with @Gaywallet to answer tham might be useful, since he's basically the one here arguing for all of this.

    One of the things I wonder about is that often, 'we' (most people) don't picture [insert disability] when we say crazy, dumb, bonkers, etc, I know I didn't know those words have any connotation with disability, and the vast majority of people don't know the etymology of any of those to know that, and those examples in specific aren't based on a clinical descriptor like insane.

    So the immediate interpretation of saying "don't say dumb because it's ableist" is "I shouldn't be using that word because the etymology of word is based on disability even though I've never pictured a disabled person while saying dumb"

    Yes and that's a failure of empathy - they literally cannot imagine someone drawing that connection because they never have, or they do not understand the implications of drawing that connection in daily language and how the internalization of these social values affect things like self-worth and happiness

    I was gonna ask how would a disabled person know that etymology more than anyone else, before realizing that in the case of intellectual disability, those people would basically be called that for most/all of their life.

    But that leads to my second question, which is that, while people calling intellectually disabled people dumb (among many other words) is obviously bad, those words used to refer solely to disabled people, even if you know your etymology. I feel putting the same weight on "[person with Down's syndrome] is dumb" and "[political opinion] is dumb" and "[software bug] is dumb" needs some explaining.

    It’s about the internalizing of dumb = bad. Yes some instances are worse than others, but all are bad.

    Alright, so it's about disabled people not being excited to unlearn a connotation that makes them a lesser, even if 'we' could unlearn that connotation for them?

    I mean, it's unfair to ask someone to unlearn what we are teaching them, until we are not using that language in normal conversation, we are teaching it [to them.]

    (I assume 'teaching' is forcing that connotation onto disabled people but I'm not sure.)

    Theoretically we could do that, I'm decently confident "don't call people with intellectual disabilities dumb" would fly with most left-of-center people.

    (This one is still unanswered.)

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