With a national boycott being called this week for the movie Tropic Thunder and protests brewing all over the U.S., a lot of conversations have been popping up around the r-word [retard], “political correctness,” and the line that exists between satire/humor and excuses for spitting out whatever shit you wanna say and not being accountable for it. (Another example of this being The New Yorker’s recent magazine cover of Obama).
Tera and Ophelia both talk about how humor doesn’t happen in a vacuum and that the execution of a joke is most important. Cody points out that there wasn’t a character in the movie to call out the ableism out and make it ridiculous. Other bloggers call the r-word hate speech and explain why this language hurts people. Nondisabled mainstream bloggers have responded with their own words— most focusing on the idea that disabled people have taken political correctness too far and that our community just doesn’t get the joke.
Though the definition and nature of Political Correctness has changed over the last 30 years, the claim is commonly used by people with privilege as a defense when naming and defining others’ existence in relation to them. Why should they have to think about the way they talk? It’s too much work, we’re asking too much! Why should they have to think about the way their language excludes others? Y’know they’re just words after all….
When are some other times you’ve heard this?
Words set the tone for a dialogue. They frame the way we communicate, the space we are interacting in, and what will be the assumed standard values for our community (i.e. if you always read the sentence “So and so suffers from X disability”, you are automatically prone to think that disability is a horrible painful experience). Words are about power and the battle has only just begun.
Below is a captioned public service announcement put out by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), this week: