[personal profile] zstrass
My small group of 16 has a well-used email list, on which someone referred to herself as "lame" for skipping our group dinner tonight to do laundry. I replied saying that I wasn't a big fan of the word "lame" to refer to something generically negative, and got some pushback from other students who don't feel it's pejorative or ableist.
I know they're wrong, but I really don't have time to look up good links. Anyone know of something I can send them? The more professional/official looking, the better---these are slightly snobby (though generally nice) law students, after all.
thank you!

Date: 2009-11-19 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaygigi.livejournal.com
If you need some resources, lemme introduce you to left fist and right fist (though I think you and righty are already well acquainted, hehehe).

Google University pulled up this nice blog post, one of the few that was a) not written by a disabled person hirself and b) was not written in patronizing language about how people with disabilities are people first, disabled somewhere in the background lets pretend it doesn't exist and celebrate the peopleness of everyone! whee!

(also, its a generally good blog, not on my reader but I've clicked links to it before)

Date: 2009-11-20 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] girlziplocked.livejournal.com
I think while it's ok to tell the student one-on-one that you are not comfortable with that usage, I think the tactic of calling people out for these kind of things in public is humiliating and counter-intuitive. I know of course you mean well, but it's probably better to let this one go. People who are going to be changed by what you said will find this information out on their own, but otherwise the PCness might alienate the rest.

Date: 2009-11-20 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] girlziplocked.livejournal.com

Date: 2009-11-20 05:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaygigi.livejournal.com
I completely disagree. If you don't call out people publically, how can you create a new social norm? Shame, according to Scheff, is the experience of the broken social bond, it is THE emotion of deviance and the affective experience of social exclusion. While hurtful to the individual temporarily, it is productive to society for some to experience shame. That whole affective process is essential to internalizaion of deviance from the basic of Becker to the post-modern of Foucault.

It is not being overly PC to say "that language is offensive." To call the policing of hurtful language mere "PC" talk is to mitigate the damage experience by marginalized groups through langauage-based oppression systems. Calling someone out on the use of the n-word or the f-word, or calling out youngsters on their ubiquitous use of "gay" to signify "that which is bad, especially that which doesn't conform to gendered expectations," isn't mere PC to most folks, so why should calling out of disability language be any different? In fact, should a person use the n word or the f word or gay in a negative context, the expected reaction ISN"T a personal conversation, the expected reaction IS a public calling out. Why should the disabled get the short shift?

I think Zach is completely right to call someone out on it. It encourages moments of teaching without using a materially disabled body as a martyred example of how not to behave. I think its grand that we physically abled allies can do this teaching in alliance with those who are physically disabled, just as many in those communities are allies in the developmentally/intellectually/cognitively disabled's fight against the word "retarded" and like language.

Date: 2009-11-21 08:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] activist85.livejournal.com
I wish there were more official looking things I knew of about this, but I have only seen this sort of issue dealt with well in workshop handouts and on blogs (along with many concise resources/explanations for lots of stuff, like why white folks who have dreadlocks is problematic/offensive/cultural appropriation or why Hawaiian themed parties are cultural appropriation, and so on and so forth).

I second the amptoons.com blog post kaygigi posted. Not the best political analysis, but pretty easily digestible and explained and that seems more important for emailed conversations/resources. There's more stuff out there on retarded (and even some stuff on crazy, spaz, and more), but most folks don't connect those with lame, so these are lame-specific.


Good luck.

Date: 2009-11-22 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strauss.livejournal.com
Thanks for the links. The style guide is particularly useful in my life that involves constant citation-checking.
As Kate and I (and now some of my classmates) have been discussing, and as some of these links demonstrate, there's this connection between being a feminist and for the most part, being careful with language. One success of feminism has been to change the language that's used for women. So one of the disabled feminist projects has been changing the language around disability.

We've been reading a lot of disparate impact/ disparate treatment cases in my contitutional law class, and from there one guy asked how to distinguish when people are using the word lame as coming from the horse sense, and thus not a disparate treatment/intentional harm framework, and when ppl are using the word in an ableist sense. This specific guy is really nice, really interesting--but insists that he has always thought of lame in the horse sense and didn't know it applied to people until I brought it up. I really don't care where people think they're getting the word; it's still the same word and hurts the same people whether or not the intention is to hurt. Of course, I'm also a fan of analyzing state or corporate actions based on their disparate impact on suspect classes, so that already makes me too liberal for some of the group. I haven't found a good argument yet that reaches the disparate treatment folks.

I'm not sure this comment will make sense to anyone who isn't currently in my constitutional law class, but paige, you and kate have both read a lot of law and are maybe following me on this.



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