Disablist language and deletions

(183 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

BOFtastic Mon 17-Mar-14 01:43:12

Sort of on the back of another thread, I've noticed recent deletions of the word 'moron' as disablist.

I''ve done some googling. It was used among a couple of other older terms, idiot and imbecile, by Henry H. Goddard, a psychologist at the turn of the 19th century to grade people of "low intelligence", and it was taken up to justify eugenics. So distasteful, yes.

Is it just that Goddard actually coined 'moron', and the other terms were pre-existing? Goddard himself disavowed it shortly afterwards, and it hasn't been in use medically for a very long time. I very much doubt that people who use the word are directly referring to learning disability- the word in that sense is long-obsolete. Much like the word 'cretin', which has a similar history.

Language changes, we all know that.

The issue gets more clear-cut, I think, when similarly-originated terms are used as insults separate to their initial meaning. It is NOT ok- regardless of the speaker's meaning and motivation- to, for example, use 'gay' to mean 'pathetic', because it is still primarily used to refer to people's sexual orientation, and making the word an insult is demeaning to them. Also words like 'retard', because alongside its general use, it is still used to abuse and insult people with learning disabilities.

That, in my opinion, should be the rule of thumb: if the initial meaning is long obsolete, fine; if it still gets used in a discriminatory sense about actually-existing groups of marginalised and oppressed people, not fine.

So after thinking about it, I don't think I agree that the word 'moron' should be deleted as disablist language.

So what do people think?

zzzzz Fri 21-Mar-14 22:58:26

You only really get to choose what you say in your own posts. Trying to dictate how an open discussion proceeds is pretty futile.

Most threads have a life of their own.

BOFtastic Fri 21-Mar-14 23:33:00

Sorry to only come back to this now- I've been out since before 5am shock, and haven't had much time to post.

Now I have wine, and am catching up...

Limited, I've disagreed on a couple of terms you've used, for the reasons I posted, but I thnk that apart from that we seem to be on the same page- and I really appreciate people trying to engage with the OP, because. Do think it's a useful debate.

Thanks too to Justine and MNHQ; I think that what you've suggested has just the right amount of clarity, without sacrificing flexibility.

I do like that on mumsnet we can be mindful of the implications of some expressions we use, and I also think that most people appreciate letting conversations flow without being overly prescriptive in situations where there are so many grey areas.

BOFtastic Fri 21-Mar-14 23:34:35

because I do think

I can't tell you how shattered I am grin <glugs wine>

Upandatem Sun 23-Mar-14 11:44:30

I think you can only look at intent and context with some of the words that have no direct or recent disablist meaning. I'd rather people just didn't call others names and discussed the topic instead but I think coming up with a list of unacceptable terms isn't necessarily going to help either.

I don't like the word moron, but I wince at is slightly less than a lot of the others.

Upandatem Sun 23-Mar-14 11:45:58

Actually, thinking about it, is all name-calling deleted as personal attacks if reported?

ImAThrillseekerHoney Sun 23-Mar-14 13:59:15

There are ways to insult people without being banned for personal attack. "You evil bitch OP" is deletable. "Surely only an evil bitch would/say do that OP" is probably OK. But "only a retard would do/say that OP" is just as deletable as "you retard!" despite arguably dodging the personal attack rules.

And remember of course that we're allowed to make personal attacks on third parties otherwise all threads referring to Michael Gove would look like Swiss cheese. But we're not allowed to insult him in ways which make unflattering "accusations" of learning disability.

youarewinning Wed 26-Mar-14 07:41:43

I'm so glad to hear one poster thinks calling the 'socially disabled' a gimp is acceptable. hmm I'll tell my DS to expect name calling in future then rather than tell him it's not acceptable just because his mind thinks differently.

coff33pot Thu 27-Mar-14 21:10:40

Ummm? Wow......haven't been here for a while and what a thread to open up first.....

Reckon I will nip in be brief and nip out again.

Here goes the word used to insult like 'moron' is just as horrid to see in print as to hear. The other words listed (and accepted) by some like cripple and yes rape are equally as disgusting. It doesn't really matter how when why or in what context they are used the question is WHY even use them In the first place.

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