The Salem witch trials, famous for being so ridiculous that it’s infuriating to read and learn about.
The red scare and McCarthyism. That was more modern age with politics and s nation wide (as opposed to a village in Salem). Horrible and very infuriating.
We now have another one of these. Not quite as identifiable. There isn’t really one person doing it. Instead, it’s among the people. This is the cancel culture and ism movement. Not all of it is bad, at face value it seems righteous. Giving power to the people and a final push for equality and integration towards a greater society.
BUT unfortunately when people get power, they use it and only think of themselves.
In particular, what I want to address is how I feel about ableism. Even that term existing is odd to me. I get it, but from a high level view, and also from my perspective (this whole thing is from my perspective) it seems to me that this is the era where every type of group starts coalescing to form an ‘ism’ and start going around shouting and stomping wherever they can to be heard and make some change.
Not all these changes are bad, but it seems like everyone is walking on egg shells here. If one company does something, all of them have to do it, otherwise they’ll get singled out and dumped on.
With regards to ableism, I think it’s a bad implementation of something that could be good.
It’s worth noting before I go any further that all this I’m about to say is from my perspective as someone who uses a wheelchair, and without a majority of the common struggles. Also, I haven’t done any research on this, it’s just my perspective with how I’ve ‘interacted’ with the ableism movement, which I think could reflect the average person who isn’t seeking out any information (as most people probably don’t do for all the ‘ism’ movements).
When I go to a group of women friends and say “hey guys how’s it going” but it turns out that one is a scream-rage-in-your-face feminist (the ones that give feminists a bad wrap) and in that unbecoming fashion tells me how I MUST stop saying “guys” to refer to a group of people. I’m scared, what happened to sticks, stones, and words not hurting people? I didn’t mean anything bad, I think of myself as a feminist, I support women. But that right there just ended any future conversation. All these movements make people afraid to talk less they get cancelled. Words are important, but the intent is much more important. The meaning of words change. Just think of all the words that used to be innocent and now are profane and banned from TV.
What if “guys” in the way I use it to refer to a group of people were contextually asexual? A murder of crows is not the same as a murder when someone dies. Can’t we change the meaning of words? Or can we have things go both ways? Where we stop cancelling people when everyone knows the words were taken out of context and meant no harm. Can we start with ourselves and not let words control us?
There’s an article I saw that ended the conversation on ableism for me. It was an article where Beyoncé was forced (social pressure, cancel culture, etc. ) to change a word in her song. The word was “spaz.”
I’m can understand that the ableism movement is trying to remove words from mainstream so that they aren’t considered acceptable. Like the word retarded, or saying something is gay. And that makes sense, calling taxes (no one really likes paying taxes) gay, can lead to “gay” having a negative connotation across the board.
But did society really just make Beyoncé change a lyric? Does anyone know how many songs have offensive lyrics? Is this fair to put Beyoncé up on the guillotine for all to see as a warning? Is it just (justice) to single out someone without using the same logic on all songs being listened to and make the lyrics change otherwise take the song down?
People are already cautious to talk to me about being in a wheelchair. Who knows if I’m a veteran with ptsd and even someone asking how I got injured will cause me to have an issue.
Whenever people ask me about stuff pertaining to the wheelchair, they are very polite. I don’t want them to never talk to me because they’re afraid I’ll go ‘ism’ on them and accuse them of some type of harassment or something for using the wrong words. I use the words walk. I almost never say “roll” to refer to my movements. I walk into a room, and I prefer to talk like that. Maybe that’s because I’m clinging onto my life before I used a wheelchair, and likewise hanging on for the future where I walk again. Maybe I just want to talk to people using their language so they get an image in their head that I’m more like them than not. I don’t want people to have to change the whole way they talk just to ask if I want to go for a walk at a park.
From my perspective, the worst thing about it is the feeling I get that everyone has this mindset of “I deserve.” The world owes me nothing. I can push for equality and inclusion, but how much of a burden will I be on the whole? In America the culture is very focused on the individual whereas my focus is on the whole. It’s up to me to earn respect and make things work for me. If I get help, that’s good, but I won’t ever go anywhere demanding something just because I decided to go somewhere and maybe I’m the only ever person in a wheelchair to have ever been there. The view that everyone is equal sounds good, but has long term negative consequences. We are not equal. Maybe you can say we’re equal in what rights we have, and yeah I won’t try to argue that. But no one is created equal, otherwise we’d all be the same. Recognizing that we each have a duty to contribute to the whole in our unique way means that not everything will be equal across the board. For example, would Stephen Hawking be in the ableist movement? Perhaps. But it’s more about giving the right support and opportunities for him to contribute rather than change a word in a song. Does he need equality in all aspects? Or just to be treated as anyone else in the specific contexts that pertain to him the most?
A final disclaimer: I’ve never been discriminated against that I know of, so of course I’m writing this as a soldier see who’s never seen battle, so to speak. I think everything I said is still valid, but of course I would. If you didn’t like my words, you can’t make me change them, but you can ignore them or be stoic and not let them affect you.