Posted by HereSince1628 in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 17th 2010, 12:39 PM
Do you and I mean to insult and discourage the mentally ill when we refer to our opponents as having one or more aspects of mental illness? Very probably not. It's just that the behavior we see is so bizarre, so ridiculous, so extreme compared to what we see as normative that it's easy, and acceptable, to apply the words crazy, daft, deranged nuts, looney (and looney tunes), neurotic, out of their minds, psychotic, wacko etc, to our posts and replies.
In American vernacular speech, it is common to use such adjectives to paint those with whom we differ. Just think of the myriad of derisively applied adjectives juxtaposed on DU to the name Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck or George W. Bush. Most of DU dislikes these people. But this _is_ DU and in our souls we know we are intellectually better than this. We needn't fall into the overused rhetorical tool and logical fallacy of pathologizing our opponents. We ARE sensitive.
On DU, we don't say that b word about women, even Michelle Bachman. We don't use the n word about blacks, even Steele. We recognize it's wrong to say 'that's so gay.' But we still use references to mental illness as a disparaging appellation. Even Keith Olbermann (bless his heart) talks about the republican party choosing the mental hospital as it's headquarters. But we, and Keith and Maher, NEVER actually _intend_ these terms to hurt our DU friends, right? We are just so used to saying words that are disparaging that we can't help ourselves. Then again... not realizing when something IS wrong may be the diagnostic symptom of the pervasiveness of bigotry. And we all will realize that a cobblestone unintentionally dropped on someone's toe still hurts regardless of intention.
So, I'm realistic, but optimistic. I know people hate to be told how to behave, and I know that this situation on DU is probably not going to change dramatically. So, I make the following modest proposal and you can make your own choices about it ...
Just before your press 'submit' as you are looking for spelling errors etc, ask yourself if you chose the right word wherever you used crazy, daft, neurotic, etc. Below, I've provided a brief list of possible alternatives. I think you'll find these words are colorful, expressive, and perhaps will give your post/reply even more precise meaning than things such as: mentally deranged, psychotic, wacko, etc.