The other “S word”

[CN: Discussion of ableist language]

In our house, we have two “S words”. The first one is shit. I’m allowed to say shit. My son is not. He will get cursing privileges when he’s older. The other “S word” is stupid. Neither my son nor I say that word in our house.

But, stupid is a commonplace word and I see it and hear it all the time everywhere. When I see it or hear it, and I know the person who has used it, I will point out that it is an ableist slur. Sometimes, people go “Oh, ok, I never knew that” and then they stop using the word.

Other times, it’s more interesting: They get defensive, they claim that there are so many offensive words that they don’t know about, so how can they be expected to be aware of all these things. They’ll say things like “If only there was a list of these words that I could refer to”. Well, there are. There are multiple lists. A simple google search using the words “list of ableist terms” will provide dozens of these lists. Here is one compiled by Autistic Hoya.

Sometimes, people will play the victim – seriously, read that again: they play the victim. They claim that they’ll never be able to learn these things and that they’ll always end up offending someone and – boo hoo – poor them because they’ll never fit in anywhere.

You do not get to play the victim when you have been told that something that you have said is offensive. You just don’t. You learn from it, and you try not do that offensive thing again.

This is not political correctness. This is about being a decent human being who shows equal respect to all other human beings.

Just because a word is commonly used, that doesn’t mean that you can keep using it or that it is not that offensive. All -ist slurs have been in common usage at different points in time. But, we learn the offensive nature of our words and we stop using those words.

So, next time, someone points out that a word you have used is offensive, stop using the word, and try to be better!