You know the feeling. Someone has used the 'R word' or has used 'tard' as in combination along with another word and you, because you promised yourself you would, know you have to speak up. A feeling of 'oh shit' I'm about to be tagged as 'over sensitive' or 'insensitive' or as the 'word police' or as 'against free speech'. I'm about to be told 'I didn't mean it that way,' or 'I wasn't referring to people with disabilities' or 'you are taking it the wrong way.' And, of course, I expected to be 'defriended' virtually or 'unfriended' socially. But, that's the shit that goes with the territory.
So, in response to someone's comment using a combo word, on the topic of gay price, I wrote this:
work with people who have intellectual disabilities, who until very
recently have had their sexuality monitored, their relationships
destroyed, their bodies subjected to surgery without consent to
eliminate the possibility of parentage, lemon juice shot into their
mouths - or contingent electric shock to stop them from even
masturbating. The use of the word 'tard' in part or the longer 'R*tard'
continues the idea that this is a group that it is acceptable to hurt,
harm and disparage. I would suggest that if we want it to 'get better'
for those in our community subjected to bigotry or bias we may want to
act in ways that communicate we respect and support others also
struggling to find acceptance and safety within society at large.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find that I wasn't unfriended. In fact the person whose facebook page this happened on called me a 'lovely person.' I almost fell over dead at that reaction. I expected, and am used to, some kind of debate wherein I'd face a shitstorm of reaction.
Imagine my further surprise when the person who wrote the comment to which I responded. Flat out apologized and said:
Dave: you're absolutely correct. I apologize for my poor choice of language and insensitivity. I should know better.
Who ARE these people??
I can say, definitively, that in all my years of challenging the use of disability disparaging dialogue that I've never, once, had this reaction.
But ... I liked it.
It has always seemed obvious to me, as a person who grew up being called a 'gear box' (I never understood that one) or a 'pansy' or a 'sissy' or any number of names that calling someone a name or using someone's identity as a put down was simply wrong. Obvious. Yet, I'm used to having to defend my defence of something indefensible.
Not this time.
I immediately liked the person, who I do not know, who apologized. They are obviously very cool if they can react calmly with apology when called on something. I immediately respected the person whose page this happened on who immediately supported me and my expression of opposition.
Who ARE these people?
The only answer can be - decent, thoughtful souls.