not hothead (not_hothead_yet) wrote,
not hothead
not_hothead_yet

words....

Recently, a friend pointed me to a blog by someone she really likes. Unfortunately, the entry I started reading was about using a word that the author does not like.
I liked her writing. I did not agree with her plea at all. Being as I am unfamiliar with that writer, I didn't feel "right" about leaving a comment disagreeing. So I'll talk about it here.

The word she is opposed to is "crazy"

From the bulk of the entry, I surmise she is someone who is psychiatric care. Like me. And my husband. And my son. And most likely eventually my daughter. Then there's all my friends and some family.
As we all know, its not that our society has gotten more crazy, its that our understanding of brain disorders has widened and deepened and many disorders are treatable now that weren't even seen as brain dysfunctions before. When I was a teen, depression was something you talked about with a counsellor. THere were anti-depressants but they were based on amphetamine and they were being phased out for myriad reasons. Brain science was very much in its infancy. Sociology was barely talked about. Cultural anthropology and evolutionary biology weren't really on the radar. Certain conditions were considered "crazy" if you had to be medicated. Because generally, back then being medicated meant you were probably incarcerated. (except for the upper-middle class who had drug dealers called doctors and everything was all about anxiety)
So when I was younger, "Crazy" when used to describe a person wasn't so much perjurative as it was damnedably descriptive: a crazy person was someone out of control and probably locked up, or SHOULD be locked up.

Now we're in an age of science that's just dazzling. The things we understand (and the things we know we don't understand and are looking for) are just astounding to me. They've proven that depression can be chemical. They've proven that Tourettes is a brain dysfunction, not a rebellious nature. They know the difference between someone with epilepsy and someone with dissociative disorder. It is amazing to me the things we've "discovered" in the last thirty years.
So to me, "crazy" has never really meant "someone who needs meds". When using it to describe a person, "crazy" means psychotic, chaotic, uncontrollable, dangerous, incomprehensible... etc you get the picture. But a person who takes zoloft? or Paxil? Or anxiety meds? that's not "crazy" that's just someone with a brain dysfunction.

So reading her essay about how hearing the word "crazy" makes her cringe and she finds it "ablist" rather bothers me. Not in an annoyed way but in a sad way. As I see it, the problem is in her point of view. SHE identifies as "crazy" but feels that "crazy" is a perjurative. But from what I read, she's not in need of incarceration or sedation or restraints. She's not "crazy" she's just got some brain disorder.
As many people pointed out, the word "crazy" is a very contextual word. Its useful to describe all sorts of chaotic situations and incomprehensible objects. I do agree that our society has gotten a tad lazy at times and "crazy" is overused. It's not a light word or it shouldn't be. "silly" isn't "crazy" "amusing" isn't "crazy" "mixed up" isn't "crazy"
But that's just English and slang for you; some words get favored for a while and come to mean all sorts of shades that it never covered before. So it was with "dynamite" and so it is with "crazy" (and the next word I'll talk about) I could go on for years about words that fell into favor and got completely overblown until the next word (I had a particular loathing for the all-purpose word "tight") came along. But "crazy" isn't really one of them. It's always been used in many contexts. It's a very all-purpose descriptive. Chaotic, stressful, untenable, degenerative, destructive, insane, disordered, uncontrollable, not to mention it can replace good ole "very"
That's how our language works sometimes. "crazy" was never a medical term or a technical term. It has always covered many shades of meaning. So to pull out one aspect of it and say "because it has this meaning to me I don't like people using it in ANY context.
I just don't agree. You can't dictate that to all of society. Not when its a word that has always had a wide basis.
If you think one word is perjurative, I can get behind that. Calling someone "crazy" directly can be a serious insult. It can also be a term of affection. It can also be a flippant comment. It can also be a strengthener of a more important notion. But to think that every time someone uses it it somehow belittles you because it CAN be a perjurative... I have a hard time with that.
I'd feel the same way if the term discussed was "Dark"
There is a difference between the word "dark" and "darkie"
If someone tried to tell me I can't say "its a dark night" because they are too reminded of the term "darkie" I'd have to respectfully say "sorry, no can do"
So I'll say things like "I had a crazy day" and if that makes some odd person somehow cringe, then I am sorry their self-image is so skewered.

Then there's the "R" word.
Let me be frank: I use the "R" word when referring to objects or situations. I am totally okay with that.

I do not use that word about people unless I am being flippant and assuredly private. It is not acceptable to use that word as a descriptive term and I agree.

No, The "R" word used to be a technical/medical term and thus has many more applications than just people, but of course it evolved in slang and came to mean one thing: "irrevocably stupid"

Mentally disabled people are not irrevocably stupid. The new meaning of the "R" word is incorrect historically and technically but it is too late. Furthermore, our ability to diagnose and label the forms of intellectual impairment have widened dramatically since the "R" word was first used and in some sense, it no longer applies anyway. Thus it can no longer be used in its original form to describe a medical condition any more than "crazy" can be used to describe someone with a brain dysfunction. It simply isn't accurate. The difference is that the definition of "crazy" has not changed in either general use or slang use. Because it has MANY definitions. The "R" word has only ever had one definition. Originally it meant "slow growth" It doesn't mean that anymore and everyone knows it. So we cannot justify using that term on people anymore. Perhaps in private conversation when referring to someone everyone agrees is in fact "irrevocably stupid" it will get used, I'm sure, but I think/hope its use is dying off. I like to think society is coming around to the understanding that just about no one is irrevocably stupid. I like to be naive like that sometimes.

The last word is "gey"
I don't think I really have to get too into it here to outline why I just won't use that word and I hate it and I will call out anyone who uses it. IN light of everything I've said about "crazy" and the "R" word, I should think everyone can grasp why "ghey" (I don't give a shit how you spell it, we KNOW what you mean) is just wrong.
Tags: dramalama, political rant, what do you have to say?
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  • announcement

    it's been a long time so I cleaned up my friends list. If I took you off and you think I shouldn't have, then comment here. I probably took you off…

  • yeah just no

    I keep an LJ alive and running because I want to keep up with my friends and post more private kind of things. I have a Facebook to feel a more…

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    Its no great secret there's a few people I've fallen out with in a big way. People who continue to be friends with other friends of mine. I'm totally…