megwrites: Beast, from Beauty & The Beast looking coiffed and unhappy. (beauty&thebeast)
[personal profile] megwrites
I had to remove somebody from my f-list (not that they'd notice/care) because I really, honestly couldn't take it anymore and it was that or cause a whole lotta drama.

I just want to scream.

I get it, okay. I GET IT. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and a scary percentage of the Republican Party are engaged in some really rancid political tactics based on odious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise bigoted ideologies. I get that they lack compassion and sometimes even Earth logic. I get that they say hurtful, horrible things on the daily and that they are a destructive force in American politics. I'm there with you. Really.

But calling them crazy in every single post in which the topic comes up? That's not only excessive, it's deliberate. That's where I draw my line and decide that your posts stop being worth listening to.

If you can't think of anything better to assault someone's politics besides calling them "crazy", then you're not really writing anything that I need to waste time on. Either get more creative (and more FUCKING AWARE) or GTFO. Or in this case, expect me to stop listening.

Glenn Beck is not crazy. He's a lot of very bad things. For one, he's a total fuckmuppeting asswipe who is currently douchecanoeing his way across America spewing more rancid shit out of his mouth than a geyser under a clogged sewer. He is a no-good, self-serving, bigoted liar and hypocrite. But Glenn Beck is not crazy.

When you call him and his ilk crazy, you're not hurting them. Because in these discussions, nobody is actually, seriously considering that Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or 50% of the Republican Party are suffering from mental illnesses.

You are however, succeeding, in hurting people who live under the stigma of mental illness. Because you're reinforcing that crazy (read: mentally ill) = loud, obnoxious, dangerous, rude, unpleasant. You're reinforcing that the rhetoric of mental illness is just another way to dismiss people we don't like.

And BTW, if you are considering that Glenn Beck has a mental illness, you're also being very inappropriate. I don't care how vile and disgusting a person's politics or beliefs are. Their mental health status? Not your fucking business. Speculating on whether someone is/isn't mentally ill? Not your fucking place.

That's another note, just so we're clear. Speculating on whether someone has a mental illness is very inappropriate and all kinds of ablist. Unless that person comes out and says themselves, "I have [insert thing]", you keep your goddamn speculations to yourself. Because all you're going to do otherwise is reinforce stereotypes. "He's good with computers and bad with people, he's probably autistic!" or "She washes her hands a lot, she must have OCD!"

Because you know what? Maybe that guy at the computer is actually great with people that aren't you and your fellow coworkers. Maybe he's just uncomfortable in an environment where people speculate about such things and thus, doesn't want to engage with those people. Hell, maybe he's just really tired and doesn't have the spoons to hob-knob around the office.

Maybe the woman who washes her hands a lot is just trying not to get the goddamn flu because she's got two kids and doesn't want them to get sick!

You don't know these things, but when you sit around speculating, you just give a big ol' green light to yourself and everyone out there to buy into stereotypes.

And so what if they do or don't? Why do you feel it's your business, why do you feel entitled to know these things? Why is it so important that you know (at least in your own mind) who is and isn't mentally ill? Are you afraid a mentally ill person will stand next to you and you won't know it? Are you scared that you might accidentally treat this person like you would a non-mentally ill person, that you might give them too much respect or trust or affection or honor?

What is it to you whether someone is or isn't?

If someone's behavior is bothering you, you address the behavior in an appropriate manner. But whether that stems from mental illness or rudeness or just plain cluelessness is not your fucking business. And it doesn't matter. Other people's brains are their own, you need to respect that.

So stop it, okay. Just stop. And if you don't, then please don't expect me to stick around to listen to you. And certainly don't expect me to respect you in the morning.

ETA: Something I thought of later.

Date: 2010-03-24 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyecho.livejournal.com
Great rant.

"Douchecanoeing" is now in my vocabulary of favourite words.

Date: 2010-03-24 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
Yes, I borrowed that from a friend and it's been my new favorite insult du jour for a while now. Frankly, it just evokes such imagery and it sort of rhymes. All in all, a great word. :)

Date: 2010-03-24 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tltrent.livejournal.com
Just a thought here, which doesn't at all dispute what you're saying re: people's thoughtlessness, but...

I know that personally when or if I use the word "crazy", I use it not to denote someone who has mental health issues, but someone who is acting badly, irrationally, insensibly, etc., all things which can happen apart from and outside of mental illness. In fact, I don't connect "crazy" with mental illness at all. Maybe a lot of people do (which I find wrong), but I wonder if not everyone does, and so therefore, they don't mean to imply that the Repubs are mentally ill, so much as just *wrong*.

If that makes sense. I totally see what you're saying, though.

Date: 2010-03-24 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyecho.livejournal.com
If you go back to the origin of the term "crazy", it refers to, yes, irrationality and insensibility, which are forms that mental illness can take.

There are other words to use which don't have that association with mental illness, and thus don't lump those who actually do have mental health issues in with these awful people.

Date: 2010-03-24 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tltrent.livejournal.com
Understood. I just don't think everyone else gets this association, though. But I'm sure you know that.

Date: 2010-03-24 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyecho.livejournal.com
I think they do, but in a fuzzy, "they're not really real people" sort of way? It's the sort of thing where you'd tell a friend "well, I'm not talking about YOU, you know that right?" and expect them to understand it.

Date: 2010-03-24 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com

I know that personally when or if I use the word "crazy", I use it not to denote someone who has mental health issues, but someone who is acting badly, irrationally, insensibly, etc., all things which can happen apart from and outside of mental illness.


The thing is? Even if you're not using the word "crazy" to directly refer to people with mental illness, that word stems from the rhetoric of mental illness and the association is still strong that crazy = person who's mind is not working an approved way. It is still a word that's used to discuss unacceptable mental states and thus it is a word that will always remain linked to mental illness. Same way with words like "insane".

I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of using this word in bad ways as well. And I also get that it's a word others might feel is neutral because we use it in other circumstances "it's been a crazy day" or "it's crazy fun" - but it really isn't a neutral word.

The reason irrationality, insensibility, and bad behavior are what crazy describes for you is because these are the things associated with that word BECAUSE it was used for/about the mentally ill. We have this word in our vocabulary to describe that which is disorderly because it was meant to describe those who have disorders.

Language is sneaky like that, so I think that's why it's important, at least for me personally, to be very aware and very careful of that.

As for the original case described in this post, it's a person who runs a pretty well known blog and I literally went back and counted. EVERY single mention of bad politics came with a reference to "crazy" or "insane" or "nuts". Literally. Every. Single. One. It came to the point where just seeing the person's name pop up on my f-list made me go, "Oh god, what's he gonna say now?" And that's just not something I need in my life.

Date: 2010-03-24 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tltrent.livejournal.com
Oh, I totally don't think you should force yourself to read a blog that makes you see red! No way. I unfollowed someone b/c I was tired of seeing her make fun of fat people--I get that!

I guess, as I said in speaking w/[livejournal.com profile] fantasyecho, many people I know *really* no longer see the association b/t crazy and mentally ill. It makes me wonder a lot about how language evolves. Can a word be divorced from or evolve from its origins? I should think it has to, esp. when I look at the OED and see how words have changed. Are we still too close to the origin of crazy to use it without negatively stereotyping the mentally ill? I can see where we might be.

While the etymology suggests something that is flawed or has cracks or is diseased, it's interesting to see the word attempting to evolve into something positive, as in the Jazz Age and even now, where one of the accepted, informal meanings of this word is "awesome, wonderful, exciting." (Which I know is not at all what the blogger you're mentioning was trying to do--I don't dispute that this person was using the word in a pejorative sense). I've always liked the term "crazy wisdom" because I think it sees an inherent value in doing something that's beyond the accepted norm.

Anyway, this is a fascinating discussion to me about how we use and view language, how we come to language, how we don't even really realize sometimes how what we say affects other people, and how we all have (as you mention in the previous post) our set points.

For instance, I personally find the use of douche and its cognates offensive on many levels, to the point of sexism. I think it's degrading to women--why is something used by women for purposes of personal hygiene now an (often hilarious) insult? I recognize that the word has become divorced from its original meaning and now just means something similar to asshole, but it still shocks me to see people use it. But, like you, I realize the way other people see language is very different than the way I do, and what affects me doesn't necessarily affect them. :)


From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com

For instance, I personally find the use of douche and its cognates offensive on many levels, to the point of sexism. I think it's degrading to women--why is something used by women for purposes of personal hygiene now an (often hilarious) insult?


That's interesting, and I can see the validity in it now that I think on it.

It didn't immediately strike me as sexist (which does NOT mean it isn't). For me personally, I never previously saw douche as being personal hygiene but as something unnecessary that women were pressed to use because they were being shamed about their bodies and the fact that NOTHING on the human body (whether genitals or morning breath or armpits or hair) smells like roses. So for me, to use "douche" is to associate that word with something unnecessary, rude, invasive, something that is traditionally part of shaming women about the completely natural functions of their bodies. I always sort of saw it as a reclaiming - but I might well feel different if something like "tampon" or "maxipad" became an insult.

But I don't think that invalidates someone who is upset and sees the association with women's genitalia as part of the insult. I'll definitely be keeping your point of view in mind next time I want to whip out "douche" as an insult. Especially if there might be a better word at hand anyway.

After all, I really, really get uncomfortable when people use "cunt" or "pussy" when they're not talking about the literal body part. Especially if "pussy" is used to denote cowardice in a man. That gets me really angry.

Date: 2010-03-24 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] claws-n-stripes.livejournal.com
I hesitate to declare Glenn Beck definitively mentally ill or not because as far as we know he hasn't seen anyone who could give him a diagnosis one way or the other. Your description of him is as close to perfection as possible, I think. :)

Date: 2010-03-24 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
I don't actually care if Glenn Beck is or is not mentally ill or not to be honest. His politics, on their face, are just deplorable and his views are complete and utter piles of steaming crap. I don't care from whence they stem or even what is going on in Glenn Beck's personal life. I honestly don't. It's his views, statements, and actions that piss me off and that's what I'm going to oppose.

Whether he does or doesn't, not my business, my problem, or my concern, yanno? It's the crap he says/does that's the issue.

Merda ipse loquitor. That shit speaks for itself.

Date: 2010-03-24 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithiliana.livejournal.com
Yes. This. Thank you! A perfect model for what to call Beck and Co without insulting a horrendously stigmatized group.

Date: 2010-03-24 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
You're most welcome. It's really sad to see valid criticism get derailed and misdirected through this kind of language, you know? Because discussing why the hate mongering is not acceptable and why we as a society need to guard against it is a really, really valueable conversation. A good one. One that shouldn't come at the expense of those who are already being hurt.

Date: 2010-03-24 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baka-kit.livejournal.com
Thank you for saying this, so I can have something to point to that's more coherent than "please stop comparing that hatemongering stupidhead to my bipolar ass, kthx?"

Date: 2010-03-24 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com
You're welcome, and I'm glad that you liked the post. And yeah. There's no reason to associate a lot of really, really awesome (and innocent) people with bigots like that.

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