I was recently absent from school for a couple of months. When I got back, people asked me where I’d been. “The psychiatric ward,” I’d answer.
“Because I’m fucking nuts.”
This is an easy way of saying that I have a vast number of polysyllabic conditions that suggest I’m unstable. Saying that I’m fucking nuts is easier and less pretentious than listing off diagnoses. Simply saying that I went to the hospital because I’m nuts robs psychopathology of its credit, which is yet another reason to ignore the diagnoses and simply cut it down to “I’m crazy.”
Of course, this isn’t what the anti-ableist would say. Just as, “He isn’t black, he is a man who is black”—as if the use of the word “he” does not already explain that he is a man—someone is not supposed to say, “He’s crazy,” but rather, “He is a man who is crazy.” What? No? That’s not correct?
The word “Negro” went out of fashion a long time ago. It’s no mystery why. What reason is there to use the Spanish word for black when we have, uh, “black”? Similarly, “retarded” only means “slow.”
So now, instead of saying something is “stupid” or “dumb” or “retarded,” we are supposed to say things such as “I’m not sure I understand how what you are saying pertains to this discussion” or “Can we think this through more thoroughly?”
There’s nothing wrong with trying to clarify what you’re saying. There are definitely better ways of saying you disagree with someone. Instead of calling them a “retarded fucking cunt,” it’s probably better to say, “Can we think this through more thoroughly?”
I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but since I am relatively scrawny and have often had my physique compared to that of a Birkenau prisoner, there’s something unattractive to me about making an effort to castrate someone else during a disagreement. There may be more biting ways of disagreeing with someone than a one-word pejorative, of course. If possible, it is worth the time to structure the most wounding sentence. But this is not the anti-ableists’ problem. They would prefer that you preface your speech with so many, “In my opinions” and “It could be argueds” that you appear to the other person as a quavering, guilty wimp who’s ashamed of his own thoughts. While this may work for the average Christian, Jew, or Muslim, I actually enjoy driving home a point. The reason that all arguments (thank Christ) do not solely consist of “No, fuck you” is to make others unsure of their own opinions with actual proof, not to appear unsure of your own argument. Empty politeness in a debate is just as bad as a hollow insult. Either way, your argument is hollow. The only difference is between bravery and fear. But in high school, there’s nothing as cool as either apologizing for other people’s sins or swearing carelessly.