Watching TV

Apr. 4th, 2010 09:16 am
hazelk: (Default)
I tried to record Dr Who but the new PVR kept giving me too many automatic options so I ending up doing it by hand and screwing up the timing so all we got was 70 minute more of sodding boat race than I ever want to see.

Thank God for the iPlayer. )

In other TV news probably re-watching Boys from the Black Stuff is not the best idea when in the middle of finally claiming DLA (Disability Living Allowance). A letter came from the DWP asking for additional information. It could be a trick. Although times have changed and we really should have claimed from the beginning. You have to get people’s names on the books, get them into the system or no one will believe them when they do need to claim. I know why we didn’t. When they were diagnosed it didn’t feel as if money was the main problem and the form is a 50 page behemoth on which every question is an invitation to betray your children by explaining what a burden they are. I wasn’t ready for that then.
hazelk: (Default)
There’s a post I’ve thought about making several times but my thoughts on the issues always start out chaotic and unfocused and by the time I’ve thought them into line the moment has passed. It’s a post about ablism/disablism and language, about the rights and wrongs of using words like blind and deaf and retarded and lame and autistic (the one I have a personal stake in) and crazy and crippled for anything other than as value-neutral descriptions of the literal condition.

Obviously using these words as playground taunts is wrong. It’s all too easy when first coming across the issue to feel spuriously virtuous that one would never dream of using ‘retard’ or ‘cripple’ as personal insults. One is too nice for that. Equally spuriously, some of the words are part of other people’s vernacular. I wouldn’t say something was lame without major irony tags because I’m not an American teenager. Which I suppose brings up one of the reasons there is resistance to being made to reconsider the use of such words. Vernaculars are part of how people, particularly marginalized people, define themselves and being told to redefine yourself never goes well.

But it’s not only the young or the less privileged who cling to their vernaculars. Metaphorical language, which can act as a vernacular of erudition, includes formulations such as “He was blind to the consequences and deaf to protesting voices.” Or “the economy is crippled, the situation is crazy, Gordon Brown’s behaviour is quasi-autistic.” The argument is that these metaphors and comparisons are intended as pejoratives and, particularly to someone with the non-metaphorical condition, carry the strong implication that the condition itself is a sign of moral failing. I get that and also that these phrases are clichés, used to give an impression of style but not specific enough to add anything meaningful to the description. I get it. But then I get confused by my actual response to the one example that ought to trouble me personally.

“Gordon Brown’s behaviour is quasi-autistic” is annoying but not because it feels like my children are being insulted. Possibly because despite his failings as a party leader I still have a fondness for Brown (for not being Blair), it might be different if I’d seen the description applied to Bush. Also because I find it hard to think of “autistic” as an insult. Autistic is a word for my children and the other children at their school, it’s a word that conjures faces. It’s not a bogeyman word or a “there but for the grace of god” word but something familiar and embraced. And if anyone uses it as insult in their hearing, I will kill them with my brain.

No, Gordon Brown’s alleged autism is annoying because it’s obviously inaccurate and betrays a basic ignorance of the condition on the part of the alleger. It comes back to the niceness thing in a way. I don’t want journalists to stop calling politicians autistic or bipolar or schizophrenic because they don’t want to hurt my feelings or other people’s feelings (although I can’t really speak for other people, not even for my own children). I want them to stop casually throwing out such labels because they recognize that they’re misleading. I want those words to have faces. When it comes down to it, I think it’s a very good thing to make people think about language but I think it’s a means to an end and not an end in itself.

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hazelk

May 2012

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